Chromecast Ultra Review

Conclusion


It's easy to dismiss the Chromecast Ultra as a one-note accessory: the necessary upgrade you need if you want to use a Chromecast on a 4K TV. And while that's an apt observation – you don't want to waste all those extra pixels on mere full-HD content, do you – there's also a bit more to this package.


The included Ethernet adapter is absolutely going to appeal to a certain type of user. Taking advantage of it streamlined setup, arms the Chromecast Ultra with bandwidth to spare, and protects your streaming session against bouts of unexpected RF interference. If you don't need it, its presence here doesn't hurt things any, but if your home's already wired for Ethernet, it's a fantastic option to have.

As for the faster load times, they're very much a benefit afforded by this new hardware, but it's not like the Chromecast Ultra removes the need to buffer entirely. You'll still be waiting for content to load, but in our experience those load times are significantly reduced compared to older Chromecast models.


So is the Chromecast Ultra for you? Well, like we said: if you've got a 4K, HDR-compatible TV, don't even think about the regular Chromecast – you'd be doing yourself (and your TV) a disservice. But if you're still viewing on a 1080p (or god forbid, 720p) set? Even then, there's still something to be said for this new model.

The Ethernet adapter is normally a $15 add-on, so if you intend to take advantage of it, it's nice to have included here. And those faster load times are also going to be worth a few bucks.

But the Chromecast Ultra costs about $70, compared to $35 (or $30, right now) for the regular second-gen Chromecast. And while those bonuses are nice, they might not add up to $40 worth of nice. As a result, if you don't yet have a 4K TV, maybe think twice about splurging on this higher-end Chromecast option. You will get more for your money, but maybe not as much as you'd like. But if you're thinking about upgrading to a 4K screen in another few months, why not take the plunge on compatible accessories now, and future-proof your living room a little?

Pros

  • Fastest load times of any Chromecast to date
  • Ethernet support out-of-the-box is a nice upgrade over Wi-Fi
  • Support for the latest 4K and HDR-supporting TVs

Cons

  • Software control is still glitchy at times
  • Pricing makes it much less of an impulse buy than non-4K Chromecast
  • Buffering is still a reality of operation (will we ever be happy?)

PhoneArena Rating:

8.5

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13 Comments

1. Metropolis75

Posts: 197; Member since: Aug 28, 2012

How do you post a review this long after the product comes out and aren't able to review it on a 4K TV? Doesn't one of your other editors have a 4K TV? I mean it is the main selling point of the Ultra.

3. LebronJamesFanboy

Posts: 671; Member since: Mar 23, 2013

"Sadly, our Chromecast Ultra review unit didn't arrive with a shiny new 4K HDR-ready television bundled in the box, so we were unable to try out that new support for ourselves." LOL - review fail.

10. sgodsell

Posts: 7514; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The Chromecast ultra came out last year in North America back in August 2016. What gives with PhoneArena doing a review now? Talk about being late.

7. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Yeah, this kinda seems.......odd? to say the least.

2. QWIKSTRIKE

Posts: 1461; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

My og chromecast keeps disconnecting while streaming at times

5. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

unplug it and let it restart. fixes it most of the time. or it might be time to upgrade.

4. Skimshaddy

Posts: 126; Member since: Feb 23, 2016

Amazon FireTV works better.

6. rshanberg unregistered

Next, we need a comparison review with a Fire TV stick.

12. Metropolis75

Posts: 197; Member since: Aug 28, 2012

Only if it's done by Gary Busey.

8. airstream25

Posts: 33; Member since: Jun 18, 2011

Many Samsung smart TVs only support UHD and HDR on HDMI-1 but not on the other HDMI ports. Seems like this would defeat the value of ChromeCast Ultra for anyone that has a service provider set top box plugged into HDMI-1.

9. scarface21173

Posts: 701; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Chromecast brilliant piece of tech.

11. cwilli319

Posts: 10; Member since: Dec 12, 2016

Major fail for not testing it on a 4k tv..... really? You couldn't find one? A quick fb post probably would've produced a volunteer.

13. schinnak

Posts: 116; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

4K Tvs these days have great UIs, smart TV features and all the apps you need to stream 4K HDR contents. Why would anyone buy this today for their 4K sets?

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