Google Chromecast Audio Review: Easy and Affordable Audio Streaming

23 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amazon Fire TV review: simple, fast, 4K and the best TV streaming.

We all knew that evicting Apple and Google from the Amazon marketplace set-top category was going to hurt the two Silicon Valley giants, the question was — how much?Amazon’s new Fire TV, the company’s 4K UHD-capable follow up to its successful streaming media box, beefs up specs but cuts a few small corners in the process.NBC is bringing its smart TV experience to additional devices: The NBC app launched on Microsoft’s Xbox One as well as on legacy Apple TVs Tuesday, and the network is working on bringing the app to Amazon’s Fire TV and Google’s Chromecast next.

As per the definition given on Wikipedia, a dongle is a small piece of hardware that attaches to a computer, TV, or other electronic device in order to enable additional functions, which functions are available just as long as the dongle is attached. The app offers access to full episodes of NBC shows like “The Voice,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Grimm,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Days of Our Lives” and others. You just plug in the dongle, allow Chromecast to access your Wi-Fi on the phone, tablet or laptop you’re using and then press the cast button in Chrome to … well, cast whatever Chromecast supported app you want to the TV. When you’re ready to watch TV, you open a supported app such as Netflix or Hulu, hit the big “Cast” button, choose a video, and watch as it starts streaming on the television a few seconds later.

The remote doesn’t need line-of-sight to the box and is simple to use, with play control buttons, a home button, back button, menu button and a directional pad with a select button. And you can send a whole lotta stuff to your TV from: TV and movie sites like HBO now, to music from Spotify, Pandora and others, to photos and videos like Youtube, all the way up to games and even simple chrome tabs to search what you want. By moving the entire browsing experience to the device in your pocket (or on your lap), Chromecast is unburdened by heavy computational and storage requirements, not to mention the cost of a remote.

Well, following on the success of the first one, the new Chromecast Audio Google dongle recently released, also for 35$, is identical regarding ease of installation and mode of operation to the one above (same supported platforms, same 3 easy steps). On the back of the device is an HDMI port for plugging into your TV, a power port for the included power adapter – no powering via USB here – an ethernet port, a USB port and a microSD card slot for adding more storage.

It predicts growth for online sales of set-top devices, with advertising revenue from these devices an important source of income for its hardware manufacturers. Once connected, the same logic applies as above: you can play whatever you want (from phone, laptop or tablet to your cool audio system) as long it’s supported by Chromecast (and many things are).

This doesn’t mean that consumers can’t still purchase Apple TV and Chromecast devices through other means (nor does it spell the end of either device). It won’t work without an Amazon account, and I’m not quite sure why you would buy it if you were not an Amazon Prime or Amazon Instant video subscriber.

Ty Pendlebury of CNET, points out that according to the tests they made, the maximum for the digital output is 28 bit/48 kHz, despite the fact that Google claims it could go up to 28 bit/96 kHz. The Fire TV has one of the best setup introductory help videos I have seen on a device, which helpfully guides the user through using its various features. Another problem discovered by Chris Davies of SlashGear is that sometimes there was a little syncing delay between the YouTube video on the screen and the sound being played through the speakers. Area vice president, Samir Bhavnani, explained, “The data for the study came from our analysts’ study of 1010data’s eCom Insights panel that consists of millions of online shoppers who allow 1010data to anonymously track their online behavior for market research. This move by Amazon helps its odds of winning the long-term benefit of access to customers televisions, while offering customers the best ‘Amazon Experience.’”

Doing so will drain your device’s battery life quickly, and doesn’t always provide smooth playback, but it’s a fine fallback measure for music and video services that don’t support Chromecast natively. Amazon content is listed in two camps: that included with a Prime subscription, of which most good stuff is and indicated with the Prime sash icon, and that which is not and can be bought or rented for around 99p an episode.

The “What’s On” section suggests videos to watch from any Cast-enabled apps you already have, while the search bar lets you look up movies, TV shows, actors, directors, and genres from across all apps, either by voice or text. You can’t Cast videos directly from this app, and search sometimes fails to list every available video search, but overall the Chromecast app provides a useful starting point when you don’t know exactly what to watch. Those with photos on Amazon’s Cloud drive can access them on the big screen, which is handy for subjecting family and friends to your holiday snaps. It won’t replace a dedicated console, but for a spot of light gaming it works well; better with the optional £40 wireless games controller, but most games can just about be controlled using the remote. Of course, any streaming device lives and dies by its app support, and over the past two years Google has done an admirable job of getting major streaming video and music services on board.

I didn’t have a 4K TV at home with which to thoroughly test it, so cannot attest to its streaming quality in all situations, but I did try it out with a 4K TV in a 15 minute demonstration and it performed well. HD video quality was excellent with Dolby Digital Plus sound for Amazon content and starts very fast indeed if viewing successive TV episodes thanks to Amazon’s predictive pre-caching of content. Apple services such as iTunes and Apple Music are absent, but you can buy movies and TV shows from Google Play or Vudu, and listen to other subscription music services such as Spotify and Rdio. It’s still a love-it-or-hate-it concept, as some people just won’t like the lack of a physical remote control; but for everything Chromecast set out to do, it performs well.

It really only makes sense if you subscribe to Amazon’s Prime service costing £79 a year or buy video content through Amazon’s digital store, but with access to Netflix, UK catchup services and a solid collection of apps and games it makes for a compelling mix.

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "Google Chromecast Audio Review: Easy and Affordable Audio Streaming".

* Required fields
All the reviews are moderated.
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

ICQ: 423360519

About this site