With Cupertino upping the video streaming competition with their new Apple TV and its tvOS operating system offering a platform for games and apps, Google naturally counters that action with an enhanced Chromecast. As more users take advantage of fast Internet speeds to watch TV shows and movies, the market for video streaming devices continues to grow.

Does the updated Chromecast 2 offer enough new functionality for current owners to upgrade or interested cord cutters to make the leap? Let’s look more closely at its new features.

Cutting the cable cord

The Chromecast Offers an Inexpensive Entry Point into Video Streaming

The best feature of the Google Chromecast is quite possibly its price, assuming your Internet provider offers unlimited bandwidth. (If not it’s always imperitive to watch your data usage when streaming rich media content over the Internet.) At only $35, the Chromecast 2 ranks at the lower end of the price range compared to similar devices, like the Roku or Apple TV.

The Chromecast allows you to “cast” rich media content to your TV at 1080p resolution from your iOS or Android mobile device or your laptop running the Windows, OS X, or Chrome operating systems. The new model supports dual band routers (2.4 and 5 GHz), including Google’s own OnHub. You also have the option to use a wired Ethernet connection for streaming, which is probably only useful if your entertainment center is close to your modem.

To initiate streaming you access an app or browser on another device, but you are then able to use that device for other activity while the Chromecast streams the content uninterrupted. It also offers built-in support for Google Play content, YouTube, a photo browser, and the Chrome web browser. The new Chromecast model sports a small HDMI cable, offering added flexibility when connecting it to your TV or AV receiver.

Chromecast Support on a Wide Array of Apps, Including Sling TV

Many streaming media apps offer support for the Chromecast. In fact, Sling TV just introduced support in early November. The company is even offering a free Chromecast device when subscribing for three months of Sling TV at $20 per month — a deal worth considering if you are new to either product.

The updated Chromecast app provides a neat feature that allows you to download any app that supports casting to the device in one fell swoop. This new app is even available for the original Chromecast, so be sure to update yours if you haven’t yet.  The new cross platform search feature lets you look for content in any compatible app using either text or voice.

Ultimately if you already own a Chromecast you probably don’t need the new model unless you want to take advantage of a dual band router. Support for the routers does ensure a great streaming experience providing your Internet speed is good. But if you are interested in an easy to use and inexpensive video streaming device – music too – the Chromecast needs to be considered. Its compatibility with nearly every mobile and desktop operating system makes it a smart choice for many.