Google’s Chromecast Ultra is a slick and simple way to serve up 4K Ultra HD content, including the addition of HDR in both major formats. The latter feature is a significant upgrade that could pay dividends over 4K streamers without HDR, such as the Amazon Fire TV. And while virtually all HDR TVs come loaded with major apps like YouTube and Netflix, the Ultra is the only device right now that can take advantage of YouTube’s new HDR feature.
Apart from that, Chromecast Ultra will likely most benefit users with older or cheaper 4K TVs that don’t include many streaming apps, especially those without Google’s growing suite of content, including Google Play movies. Though it’s more expensive than the HD Chromecast, the Ultra’s inclusion of 4K support, along with HDR10 and Dolby Vision, should allow it to increase its value as 4K streaming expands.
How long will it last?
With dual band Wi-Fi, Ethernet connection, and all the latest 4K and HDR formats on board, the Ultra is ready to grow with you and your choice of higher-quality 4K Ultra HD TVs for years.
What are the alternatives?
The native apps loaded right into your 4K Ultra HD TV may be the Chromecast Ultra’s biggest competition right now. For third-party streaming devices, alternatives include the $100 Roku Premiere+ (it only supports HDR10, but so do most streaming services), as well as the $130 Roku Ultra, which adds features like an Optical digital audio output for outboard audio connection, and a remote control with a finder function. Both Roku devices also feature a more traditional interface, and better cross platform search than the Ultra, albeit for a higher fee.
Should you buy it?
If you’re looking for a highly affordable streaming add-on to your 4K Ultra HD TV — and you love Google’s casting style — then definitely. You can get a bit more content with a Roku, including Amazon Video, but it will also cost you more. More importantly, for now the Ultra is the only device compatible with HDR videos on YouTube. As more streaming apps come out of the woodwork, the Ultra’s value will only rise.