Chromecast Ultra is dead, long live Chromecast Ultra (and this new Ethernet dongle)
Google’s new $50 “Chromecast with Google TV” has supplanted the Chromecast Ultra in practically every way — so you probably won’t be surprised to hear Google is getting rid of its original 4K streaming device. The Chromecast Ultra is now out of stock at every major US retailer, including the Google Store, where its product page redirects to the new Chromecast.
It’s not formally “discontinued,” mind you: Google says it will still be available at “select retailers,” even though we’re seeing no stock at Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, The Home Depot, Staples, etc., and even though B&H Photo actually lists it as “discontinued” right now.
But there is still one way to buy one — because when Google announced its 2020 Chromecast, the new product seemingly left a couple of gaping holes.
As we reported earlier today, the new Chromecast won’t support Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service until sometime in the first half of next year. What are those buyers to do? They can still purchase the $99.99 Stadia Premiere Edition, which Google confirms will still come with a Chromecast Ultra alongside its Stadia controller.
For some households (and for the best performance with Stadia), the fact that the new Chromecast doesn’t come with an Ethernet adapter like the Chromecast Ultra might also seem like an oversight, but Google has an answer for them too: it quietly launched a $20 Ethernet plus power adapter for the new Chromecast today.
At $50 for the Chromecast and $20 for the new adapter, you’d be paying the same $70 you would for the Ultra previously. Like the Chromecast Ultra adapter, it tops out at a 100Mbps wired connection, but neither Stadia nor today’s streaming video services need more. (You may also be able to use a USB-C to Ethernet hub for your new Chromecast; we found at least one that worked.)
It’s not like Stadia buyers would want a Chromecast Ultra without a Stadia controller anyhow. The original Ultra didn’t have Bluetooth, and Google’s proprietary Wi-Fi based controller is the only way to connect. That’s not a problem with the new Chromecast, as we discovered when we played some sideloaded Stadia with an Xbox gamepad.
9to5Google reports the $30 2018 Chromecast will stick around alongside the new $50 one, by the way. You won’t get a bundled remote control or 4K streaming with that one, though, merely 1080p content you sling from your phone.