With support for 4K, the best streaming device just got better.
Google's Chromecast dongle has long been the go-to device for streaming video, music and photos to your TV. It's cheap and simple to use and most of the big streaming services like Netflix and Stan support it natively through their mobile apps. Recently, though, the humble device has started to show its age. The standard Chromecast only supports resolutions of up to 1080p, a limitation that's becoming harder to ignore as 4K TVs get cheaper and services like Netflix and Stan lean hard into 4K Ultra HD content.
This is where Chromecast Ultra comes in.
What is Chromecast Ultra and what does it do?
Designed for 4K, Chromecast Ultra delivers all the same streaming functionality as its predecessor along with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) and resolutions of up to 3840x2160. By plugging the Chromecast Ultra into the HDMI port of your TV, you can stream videos, photos and music to it from your computer or mobile device. Effectively, the device you're streaming from acts as a remote for the Chromecast dongle, selecting files on your home network or videos on YouTube or Netflix to play on your TV.
The easiest way to stream to your Chromecast device is through one of the hundreds of supported mobile apps. From YouTube to Spotify, Netflix to ABC iView, all include a simple "cast" option for streaming their content to your Chromecast instead of displaying it on your mobile device. Watching funny cat videos or the latest episode of Game of Thrones on the biggest screen in your house is just the press of a button away.
While streaming through supported apps offers the simplest and smoothest experience, Chromecast devices can also turn your TV into a second screen for your Android phone or tablet through screen mirroring. Using the Google Home app, you can cast everything you see on your mobile screen onto your TV. The Chromecast extension for the Google Chrome web browser brings similar functionality to your computer. It's important to note, however, that screen mirroring is often significantly choppier than casting through supported apps and it should only be used when native app support is unavailable.
What 4K content is available for Chromecast Ultra?
4K content isn't ubiquitous just yet, but the catalogue is growing day by day. Netflix already supports 4K streaming for a number of its most popular TV shows, including Daredevil, House of Cards and The Crown. You can check out the full list in our guide to 4K Netflix streaming.
Stan is getting in on the 4K game, too. Starting in April, it'll be streaming shows like Breaking Bad, Preacher and Wolf Creek in 4K Ultra HD, with more programs set to follow.
Over on Amazon Prime Video, you'll find a sizeable selection of 4K content, from movies like The Martian and The Amazing Spider-Man to shows like Orphan Black and The Man in the High Castle.
If you're looking for free 4K content, YouTube's got you covered. From movie trailers and professional documentaries to music videos and video game footage, YouTube currently boasts the largest library of 4K content on the Internet. Just search for "4K" to see some of the most popular videos on offer.
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What else do I need to stream 4K content to Chromecast Ultra?
To watch 4K content through Chromecast Ultra, you'll first need a 4K-compatible TV. Similarly, to watch HDR content, your TV must explicitly support it.
Streaming 4K video requires a lot of bandwidth and you'll need an Internet connection of at least 25Mbps to handle it smoothly. Your home network also needs to be strong enough to maintain that speed, but if you're Wi-Fi isn't up to snuff, Chromecast Ultra comes with a built-in Ethernet port for wired connections to your modem or router.
Casting to Chromecast Ultra is only supported by compatible devices. These include Android phones and tablets running Android 4.1+, iOS devices running iOS 8.0+, Mac computers on OSX 10.9 or higher and Windows PCs running Windows 7 or higher.
Chromecast Ultra specs
|Video output||Up to 4K Ultra HD over HDMI|
|Power cable||2 metres|
|Device weight||47 grams|
|Adaptor weight||101 grams|
|Networking||802.11ac (2.4GHz/5GHz) Wi-Fi, 10/100 Ethernet|
|Ports||HDMI, Micro-USB for power/data, Ethernet for network connection|
|Supported OS and sevices||Android 4.1+, iOS 8.0+, Mac OSX 10.9+, Windows 7+|
Included in the box:
- Chromecast Ultra
- Power cable (2m)
- Power adaptor with Ethernet port