Google Chromecast 2 vs Android TV Box Review
This is a product that made me feel like a fool.
You remember the time when you spent money to solve a problem and then realize later that there was already a better solution? And this solution cost less and was much cooler too?
I was on a look out for a new 32 inch TV for the bedroom because my old Philips LCD TV was getting old. So old that it don’t even have HDMI ports and purely work with RCA ports.
This time I want an LED TV as I heard that LEDs are more energy efficient.
And I thought that the stars were shining on me when just about that time when I decided to get a new 32 inch TV, my aunt won a Sharp Aquos 32 inch LED TV (LC-32LE340M) as a second prize for a lucky draw. She has no use of it as she lives in a rental that’s already fully furnished. So she asked around if anyone wanted it.
I was ecstatic and couldn’t believe my luck. But my tail stopped wagging when I checked out the specifications of this particular TV set.
You see… for some stupid reason which I don’t want to talk about, my room doesn’t have a connection point with a TV cable. This means that all these years, I solely relied on free-to-air satellite signals (using an analog antenna) to get my dose of entertainment from the box.
So I vowed that this next TV I was going to get must be one with smart TV functions so that I can finally enjoy my binge like everyone else. This particular Sharp TV model does not have smart functions. So I stupidly turned it down as a voice inside my told me not to be greedy as this TV does not offer what I required.
It was about a week later, after doing more research on which TV to buy, that I realized my mistake.
TV box streaming and media player
I don’t need a smart TV. All I need was a TV box! I’ve been a fool!
You could probably predict that it was too late to reverse my bad decision of politely declining a free TV (which was exactly the screen size that I wanted). My aunt sold it.
A TV box (or maybe a streaming stick) was all that I needed. And it totally solves all my TV issues. And it solves them exactly the way I wanted them to. They stream TV channels wirelessly. And if there’s anything my room is good with, it’s the Wifi signal.
I have no problems getting 5Ghz signals too!
But as I explored which TV box would be of best value to purchase, I learned more and more about this device. From the reviews and feedback I read about them, and the videos I saw, they don’t seem very dependable to an average consumer who doesn’t know Kodi.
In fact, I started to see it as just another Android device. The difference is that this one comes with a HDMI output. This was when Chromecast started to glow in my mind.
Phone to TV casting
I’ve heard about Google Chromecast but never gave it a lot of thought. But the moment when I decided that TV boxes were just Androids with HDMI, I started to see Chromecast in a different light.
It was then I found out that I’m at the right place at the right time. Because Chormecast is now on version 2 which look much more cooler than the first version dongle.
More over, I have an Android phone that is sitting at home all the time. It’s about time my second phone made a bigger contribution to the family.
I bought it and went to work.
The setup of this device is amazingly simple. It might look like an alien device dangling on your TV, but getting it to start casting is deceptively easy.
Just follow the on-screen step-by-step guide and you are done in less than 5 minutes.
Chromecast is integrated with popular internet streaming services like Youtube, Netflix, hulu, etc, This means that you can easily use your Android phone to access these channels and cast them on the giant TV screen.
There is even a 4K version of Chromecast that allows you to cast in 4K.
But the main feature which to me closed the deal was the mirroring function. This wirelessly puts whatever is on the screen of your Android device onto the big TV screen.
If you look at it this way, TV boxes basically obtains video streams from websites online and plays them on the TV. This is the same as using an Android device to access these streams and casting onto your TV.
And these TV boxes can costs over $100. Some even at close to $200. I don’t mind paying these prices if the device add a lot of value. But from what I read about them, they can only add on to your stress.
Disadvantages of TV boxes
You get little tech support. You’d probably know that Android operating system is constantly evolving. And when your device stops working due to incompatible software… do you know how to update both Android and Kodi?
I find it amusing to see vendors pushing and selling TV boxes running on Android 4.1. Try getting that to work at home!
And many of those promoting latest devices running on Android 6 don’t offer after-sales tech support. You can easily see this from the huge number of buyers who go online to voice their disappointment with sellers.
Consumers think that when they buy something like this, they are getting something out-of-the-box and idiot-proof. This is not the case with a TV box.
On the contrary, people with Android phones are probably very familiar with how to operating it. Updating is also a piece of cake.
And what consumers generally don’t know is that the quality of streams depends on what’s available online (same as casting). This effectively means that you can get access to everything from the internet… on your tablets and smart phones…
So why not just use your phone as your TV box? And Chromecast is the leverage you can use to convert your TV into a smart TV.
Types of casting devices
Now of course, Chromecast is not the only casting device available on the market. And if you are going to buy something like this, I strongly suggest that you get one from a credible company that you can depend on for support when needed.
There are 3 in the market:
- Roku streaming stick
- Amazon fire TV stick
- Google Chromecast
There are many more generic dongle-type devices that uses the Miracast wireless display standard. We’ll just leave them out of this discussion.
If you are getting a casting device, do some read up on the 3 devices listed above. They pretty much do the same thing. The key differences is the licensing and availability of channels due to their individual licensing agreements with media companies.
I went with Chromecast because it doesn’t tie you down to any network. Google has kept Android limited to only our imagination. And for the long haul, I suspect this is a better device to have in the house.