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Google Chromecast Ultra – Stream up to 4K Ultra HD

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Along with the new improved devices which Google recently presented is the heavily upgraded Google Chromecast Ultra. It lives up to its name, and has become more than just a streaming video player. It hints at the current state of streaming video technology, and the options available for users.

Google as a company has been diversifying since the day it realized it was successful. Usually, news from Google is about something totally new, this time, it released notice of a slew of devices, old and new, with the intent of becoming an al-encompassing presence. The whole intent of this is to create an ecosystem which is available to an individual in every way possible. It is practically like an internet-of-things (IoT) without small internet-connected things talking to one another.

Summary

Google Chromecast Ultra is not just an upgraded streaming video player, it is also a video player in its own right. This is a big improvement over the original Chromecast,which has been recently updated and is now called Chromecast 2. The Chromecast Ultra has a very competitive pricing and should be considered by anyone who wants a streaming video player, as well as a media player.

Small and sleek, it looks precisely like the old Chromecast, except for the small uppercase ‘G’ logo. What is inside is a lot more power than the olde Chromecast, about 1.8 times faster processing power. This amount of processing is required for what the video player can do.

First off, it can still stream video. However, it can now stream 4k videos. The video runs through an HDMI cable from the device to the 4k UHD TV. That is more than 4 times the number of pixel compared to the 1080p HD video standard. If you already have UHD, Chromecast Ultra will take advantage of this capability. Otherwise, it will render at a minimum 1080p.

Another improvement is high dynamic range (HDR). If the TV is capable of HDR, this capability will be used in rendering the video.

Google Chromecast Ultra can be used to play streaming video from Netflix and other content providers. It can also play video files from your collection. This is done through an interface where you can choose the player you want, like RealPlayer Cloud. This gives users the flexibility to run video from different sources.

Pros
• Relatively faster streaming.
• Low price
• LAN port provides a better connection option
Cons
• Newly introduced, minimal selection of apps
• No remote control included

Google Chromecast Ultra Specification

HDR is a technology that acknowledges that video has always been limited by the number of pixels carrying the information to the screen. In most instances, users would not miss standard video, and neither would they really understand high dynamic range. Few people would appreciate what HDR can bring to the screen.

The eye sees the world in high dynamic range, complete shades of gray from black to white, and from red, green and blue. However, when rendering this information onto the computer there is a loss of the depth of color. This is true for still images, as well as for video images. In still images, there is a technique which draws out the most information from highlights, shadows and mid-range. These are overlayed one on top of the other and merged, to create a single image which has the most range of colors. With video this is done in the video processor, during rendering to the screen. The only requirement is that the screen should support HDR video. To make that happen, there is a standard for HDR which TV manufacturers follow, and the HDTV models are certified accordingly.

Without increasing the size of the player, Google was able to bring HDR to its Chromecast Ultra. The new processor is also more powerful by a factor of 1.8, and this allows the player to be able to support both 4K video and HDR at the same time. This means a larger picture, with better color rendition, of darker shadows, lighter highlights, and better looking mid-tones. Overall HDR produced better colors.

Chromecast Ultra has that capability. However, if you do not have compatible hardware, you would not be able to use those features. In the same way, if you don’t have 4K video material, you would only have 1080p video blown up to 4K size, and rendered a little more softly. The crisp contrast and sharp details found in 4K video will not be there to see

Another caveat is that if the TV is not 4K nor HDR compatible, these features will also not be shown. Unlike HDR stills which are not dependent on the screen, HDR video requires a TV which is capable of carrying out the instructions to render in HDR.

The ability to play recorded media allows this device to have more flexibility. The main complaint against streaming video players is the available bandwidth. If the internet connection does not cooperate, or if the bandwidth slows down, you would have lagging video. If you have a slow connection, it will also lag. Chromecast Ultra accesses the internet via wifi. However, if it seems that the connection is too slow, the user has the option to connect the Ultra to the internet via a LAN cable. This is secure and faster than wireless data transmission. Due to the nature of data transmission, it may still encounter the encounter video lag.

 

Verdict

Google Chromecast Ultra is pointing us in a direction which almost everyone has seen. It is wireless, but it has a LAN port, just in case. The use of a newer processor makes this faster than the Chromecast 2. The additional power will come in handy when watching 4k video. The HDR capability is like a feature which is waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.

What is really great about this product is its affordability. It is costs as much as the Chromecast did when it was first introduced.

It is a shame that its best features are not available for everyone. However, this product will find a following in the form of video and film aficionados who appreciate better colors, and a large screen resolution.

Official: Google

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