Rahul is an app enthusiast who loves scouring the web for alternatives to popular apps and websites. Monopoly mustn't prevail!
Chromecast: The Best There Is?
Every so often, you come across an exciting film, song, documentary, and more that is so captivating you just can’t have enough of it. And what if you had to put up with watching it over a mobile device?
Well, Chromecast ensures that you actually don’t have to withstand the torture and keep straining your eyes. While mobile technology has been great, certain forms of entertainment are more entertaining on a larger screen, allowing you to watch, listen, or otherwise follow your interests with more comfort.
With Chromecast, mobile phone users can cast movies, TV shows, and photos from various Cast-enabled apps on Android and iOS smartphones, tablets, iPhones, and iPads. You can also cast entire sites or tabs from your Google Chrome browser on Windows computers, Chromebooks, or Apple Macs and Macbooks.
But Google’s Chromecast doesn’t exist in a vacuum, with complementary, competing, and even alternative products there aplenty.
Best Chromecast Alternatives
So, whenever you decide against using Chromecast, here are the eight best Chromecast alternatives you should consider.
- Roku Streaming Stick+
- Amazon Fire TV Cable
- Xiaomi Mi Box S
- Apple TV 4K
- Nvidia Shield TV
- Samsung AllShare Cast
1. Roku Streaming Stick+
The Roku Streaming Stick+ is simply the most complete 4K HDR streaming device you can get for the price. It is an inexpensive yet perfect streaming solution for your 4K HDR television with a huge selection of compatible apps and a customizable user interface.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ has essentially corrected the shortcomings of its predecessors with minimal but targeted upgrades.
Where prior Roku TV streaming devices seemed stuck in time with regards to the standards of its numerous streaming services offered, Roku Streaming Stick+ is now compatible with more services, charges friendlier prices, and offers a significantly enhanced user experience.
For instance, using the Roku Streaming Stick+ will now save you money compared to any subscription plan from the major streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon Video, Disney Plus, and HBO Max among others. That was not the case four years ago.
While the Roku Streaming Stick+ has a better range than its predecessors and the power to process 4K HDR video, a few niggling issues like slow pop-in time on the home screen and lack of Dolby support keep it from reaching its full potential.
Roku Streaming Stick+ Pros
- An inexpensive option for HDR and 4K streaming
- A wealth of Roku free channels
- Support for Apple AirPlay
- Intuitive user-interface
- Handy remote control
Roku Streaming Stick+ Cons
- No headphone jack in remote
- Casting is a complicated affair
- Lacks Dolby Vision
2. Amazon Fire TV Cube
The second-generation Amazon Fire TV Cube is one of the best TV streaming products on the market and, certainly, the best solution for amazon streaming compared to the 2017 iteration. The streaming device has an upgraded processor and includes the Dolby Vision to great effect, which have both masked its subtle weaknesses and helped it solidify its spot among the best streaming devices presently on the market.
It also has plenty of features. Outside of voice controls, the Fire TV Cube works very well in navigating menus, loading apps, and playing your chosen video. Its 4K HDR video loads over Netflix quickly when using a Wi-Fi connection, same as the 1080p live TV channels on Hulu.
The new Amazon Fire TV Cube is also faster than most streaming devices supports the highest-end AV formats such as Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, has a dedicated YouTube feature, and has integrated Alexa's voice assistant, voice search, and voice commands for easier hands-free voice control of the Cube.
The Fire TV Cube microphone is sensitive enough to pick voice commands from across the room. With about 16GB of storage space for apps, your Fire TV Cube can support all apps and services compatible with the Cube, including both Amazon and third-party apps and services.
However, the Fire TV Cube can feel a little snappy and responsive when jumping between the different apps and the Fire TV menu.
Amazon Fire TV Cube Pros
- Always-on Alexa experience
- Control your TV, cable box, soundbar, and A/V receiver, etc.
- Support for 4K, HDR, and Dolby ATMOS Audio
- Can cast content using AirScreen
Amazon Fire TV Cube Cons
- No Dolby Vision
3. Xiaomi Mi Box S
The Xiaomi Mi Box S is a solid but comparatively limited streaming device that suffers from a lack of catch-up apps, an inability to support dynamic HDR formats, as well as a poor non-immersive audio quality.
However, Xiaomi Mi Box S can still deliver top performances, including the complete Android TV experience with its streaming of content in 4K HDR. The device is crisp and gives a three-dimensional surround sound through both Dolby and DTS, while a Chromecast built-in adds to its functionality.
It is also one of the most complete streaming solutions on the market, incorporating a dedicated Google Assistant button for its remote control to help users launch their favorite movies and TV shows via voice commands.
The Xiaomi Mi Box S is bigger than most of its competitors and sits beside your TV rather than behind it like most streaming devices. It is powered by Android TV and uses a quad-core processor with 2 GB RAM and 8 GB storage, making it an excellent choice for streaming videos and audio over elongated periods.
Xiaomi Mi Box S Pros
- High-quality video and audio
- Unaltered Android TV experience
- The simple remote button layout
- Google Assistant integration
- Streams content in 1080p flawlessly
Xiaomi Mi Box S Cons
- Laggy 4K streaming
- Performance is a little sluggish
- Remote's build quality could be better
- A bit pricey for what it offers
4. Apple TV 4K
The Apple TV 4K is also a second-generation streaming device that’s been upgraded to build upon the success of its predecessor. With a nip here and a tuck there to upgrade the targeted system components and products, Apple has successfully produced another top streaming device that continues to rank among market-leading products around the world.
Consequently, the Apple TV 4K is an elegant and high-functioning streaming device capable of playing 4K videos in both HDR and Dolby Vision. It can also support high-frame-rate HDR to make fast action and sports look smooth and clear, while the revamped Siri remote is a pleasure to use.
Apple TV 4K also comes with plenty of small but handy features, such as multi-user support and the ability to tweak your TV’s color balance automatically.
Apple TV 4K uses the A12 Bionic processor, an advanced processor compared to the old A10X fusion chip-based model. As a result, the streaming device now offers a more realistic experience in games, more lifelike videos, and a more immersive sound quality than most of its competitors.
While it’s certainly more expensive than its peers, the Apple TV 4K is more than just a way to watch movies and TV shows, as it can also double up as a smart home hub.
Apple TV 4K Pros
- Best support for apps and services from Apple
- Easily mirror content from iPhone, iPad, and other Apple devices
- tvOS interface is simple and clean
Apple TV 4K Cons
- Non-expandable storage
- HDMI cable isn’t included and must be purchased separately
5. Nvidia Shield TV
The Nvidia Shield TV streaming device doesn't come cheap, but the tradeoff is a high-quality product with market-leading capabilities and an exquisite user experience. In fact, its high levels of performance have made Nvidia Shield TV the go-to streaming device for online gamers due to its incredibly powerful streaming capabilities.
The latest iteration was ambitiously upgraded to boost its AI capabilities and better suit the gaming user base. The Nvidia Shield TV device has one of the most user-friendly Google streaming devices with a clear focus on content, much like a refined version of the Android TV box.
Nvidia sought to emphasize excellence over affordability. The spectacular outcome is an Nvidia Shield TV streaming product that is loaded with premium features like Dolby Vision, has AI upscaling similar to high-end smart TVs, and boasts a crazy powerful 4K HDR streaming video player. It can also support both HDR 10 and Dolby Atmos audio.
However, the Nvidia Shield TV streaming device does not come with an HDMI cable for connecting your player to the TV. Users will also not get the Nvidia game controller, while it commands some of the highest prices in the TV streaming industry.
Nvidia Shield TV Pros
- Compact tube design and easy to set up
- Best support for apps and services from Google
- Impressive AI upscaling feature
- Expandable storage
- Built-in Chromecast support
Nvidia Shield TV Cons
- Storage capacity of only 8GB
- No HDMI cable included
6. Samsung Allshare Cast
Samsung AllShare Cast is designed to push audio and video content from a user's Samsung mobile device to their HD televisions without the need for wires. With a nondescript black box and smoothly curved edges, the Samsung AllShare Cast is lightweight at 1.6 ounces but a monstrous product for user experience and quality multimedia performances.
The Samsung AllShare Cast uses a WiFi connection to mirror whatever is displayed on your Samsung device's screen to a compatible HDTV in real-time. While it does not need connecting cables to work, the AllShare Cast is only compatible with select Samsung mobile devices, including the Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note 2, and Galaxy Note 10.1.
The Allshare Cast transmits high-quality video and audio with clean sound and high-resolution images. However, expect to experience a subtle one-second lag between the media playing on your device and the one mirrored to the HDTV display.
Unfortunately, the Samsung Allshare Cast is not a cheap streaming product. It also has one of the most taxing initial device setup processes, especially for first-time users. Further, it does not always work well for high-speed videos. It also tends to hang if you change the total screen often or even disconnect from your phone altogether.
Samsung AllShare Cast Pros
- Simple setup process
- Compact design
- Often pushes phone media to HDTVs without wires
Samsung AllShare Cast Cons
- Only supports Samsung devices
- Lacks an intuitive setup guide
- only supports a few recent Samsung devices
The Airtame is a wireless HDMI display adapter designed for educational and enterprise use. It is helpful if you want to mirror the screen of any device you own or need cloud-based device management.
You’ll also find that the Airtame streaming device is refreshingly easy to use, especially when seeking to manage your meeting room efficiently. Like its contemporaries, Airtame comes with a variety of specialized features that guarantee good quality streaming and a great sound experience.
Airtame is compatible with numerous device operating systems such Linux, Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. It can also cast to a broad selection of devices and HDTV brands. With Airtame, users can also share their device screens in a way Chromecast cannot.
It relies on your local network to cast audio, video, photos, and other multimedia file formats from your device to HDMI screens. However, you can also use the Aircord, a proprietary, multifunctional cord for power, network, and media hookup cable for when the local network is unable to support your cast.
- Supports practically any mobile or computer OS
- Unrivaled security features
- Simple setup process
- Easy to use for presenting to audiences
- Too pricey
- Not built for entertainment
- Only supports 1080p streaming
AllCast is unlike any other streaming device on this list. Much like Google's Chromecast, AllCast is not a standalone device but rather an app with the capability to cast your mobile device screen onto the display of an HDTV.
One advantage that AllCast has over competing products is its enhanced compatibility, with the app able to support Roku, Fire TV, and a litany of several other streaming service providers. It can also cast your mobile screen to virtually any smart HDTV brand and still maintain a high video and audio quality. AllCast is also compatible with multiple mobile operating systems, including Android, iOS, and more.
The AllCast streaming product brings together the essential products and services needed to stream your favorite films and TV shows. This way, it addresses a hitherto common criticism of the oft-fragmented streaming products market.
For instance, while Apple's AirPlay requires users to cast to Apple TV only, AllCast's new support for iOS and iPad devices means you can now cast to any HDTV without compromising the quality of your shows, movies, or audio.
It can also communicate with various media servers like Plex or work as a standalone app to communicate with native iPhone and iPad elements. However, it can also work as a streaming device in the same vein as Chromecast and Samsung AllShare Cast.
- Works with all major devices
- No dongle stick required
- Affordable cost
- Simple, clean user interface
- The free version has advertisements
- Too few supported media sources
- There's no support for a native video app?
Did I miss any Chromecast alternatives? Let me know in the comments section.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Rahul Pandey