The Google Chromecast (3rd generation) is an HD video streaming player from Google that makes any TV smarter and easier to use in an instant. Released in 2018, the third-generation Chromecast plugs directly into the HDMI port on the back of your TV, is powered via the USB port, and then acts as a receiver for streaming video links sent from your smartphone or tablet. The trick happens when you press the Google Cast button, which is built into most streaming video apps.
This sends a link to the Chromecast and streaming starts immediately. It’s an incredibly intuitive system to use, and eliminates the need for a discrete remote. If you’ve seen a Chromecast in the last few years, you probably know what to expect from the Google Chromecast (3rd generation). The streamer is a small disc no more than two inches in diameter that can hide unobtrusively behind your TV.
There’s just a single MicroUSB port on the back of the disc that you’ll need to plug into either your TV’s USB port or the wall with the included power adapter, and a single button that lets you reset the Chromecast to factory settings if you hold it down. It’s simple, but it does the trick. However, the Google Chromecast (3rd generation) takes that simplicity a step further than ever before – it extends the subtlety to the plastic shell of the device: The 2nd generation model was available in bright red, blue, and yellow, while the 3rd generation model was available in a bright red, blue, and yellow.
The subtle color change is nice, but considering the Chromecast spends its entire life behind the TV, it’s probably not that important. The flat HDMI cable that protrudes from the Chromecast is long enough to fit in the port without clashing with other cables, and allows the Chromecast to hang a few inches above the TV. The included USB cable is also 69 inches long and can easily be run to a power outlet if your TV doesn’t have a free USB port. The most important part of the Chromecast design, however, isn’t anything you can see on the outside. Inside, the Chromecast uses an improved 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi antenna, which is likely the source of the 15% performance increase Google is touting.