We had a number of streaming devices launched and updated this year, but which one dominated the market and made the biggest impact in people’s living rooms?
The best home entertainment device of 2015 was a straightforward choice, to be honest, despite the fact that we’ve had a number of established players in the market try their best to lock down devices that ‘smartify’ people’s homes.
But when deciding on what would win the top gong, it had to provide the most entertainment for the best price while also being accessible to all.
Best home entertainment device of 2015: Google Chromecast
Yes, the Google Chromecast. It’s largely been a year of improvement for the companies offering products that stream online content, with the newest version of the Apple TV being one of the well-covered examples.
And so it was the case with the Google Chromecast, which took a great idea and gave it a few tweaks.
For those unfamiliar with the Chromecast, the device is connected to a TV through its HDMI port, which is then connected to the internet via the home’s Wi-Fi, which can then stream content remotely through a person’s device.
So, for example, someone with a Netflix account isn’t forced to watch it on their laptop, smartphone or tablet, but rather they click the cast button and it will automatically stream it to the TV screen.
Since it originally launched, the number of websites and apps that have added Chromecast capabilities reaches into the hundreds, with the APK offered openly to developers to tinker around with.
This means that not only can you watch Netflix or YouTube videos on your TV, but listen to digital radio, cast your device screen and even play some relatively basic games.
The beauty of the device is that it works from the get go and is very accessible, even for those who might struggle with other more complex streaming devices.
As I mentioned before, this year marked the second iteration of the device, which was once shaped like a dongle, but is now a rather aesthetically pleasing disc purposefully shaped to fit better connectivity tech than the first model with an upgraded 2.4/5Ghz Wi-Fi antenna that supports 802.11ac.
They also added some new badly needed features like allowing you to cast your videos and photos using the Google Photos app for the first time.
Serious bang for your buck
One other change that improved the service didn’t come with the hardware, but rather the software, with a major revamp of the Chromecast app doing what it had lacked before, that being, act as a single hub for every compatible app on the market.
Bu its pricing at €39 is just excellent bang for your buck given other devices like the new generation of Apple TV cost a minimum of €179 for just a little bit more.
If we’re to look at worthy competitors, then the new Roku 4 should get an honourable mention for a streaming device that is arguably gearing more towards taking away from the Apple TV than the Google Chromecast.
Being priced around the €120 mark, I would definitely have it ahead of the Apple TV, which might have better access to content, but does not support 4K video like the Roku 4.
This is where I would have a minor criticism of the Chromecast, which, like the Apple TV, only supports up to 1080p, but given that you’re paying a third of the price for the device paired with the limited content available in 4K, then it’s no biggy.
So, to recap, for its price, amount of services creating compatible streaming connectivity and its aesthetics, the Chromecast in its second iteration is as close to a must-have home entertainment gadget that there is, unless you’ve already shelled out thousands on a smart TV.