Streaming devices are becoming increasingly popular as more users tune out of traditional TV networks and opt to watch content directly from apps and the web.
While in the beginning some argued that you wouldn’t achieve the same quality with a streaming device as you would with a set-top box, products like the Chromecast Ultra (which streams in 4K) prove that this is no longer the case.
The convenience of streaming video and music from your phone, along with the ease of installation, makes the Chromecast Ultra a great option for those wanting to disconnect from traditional set-top boxes.
Add to this the many other things you can do with the device, including screen mirroring, playing games, and casting photos, and you have a strong case for investing in one.
So if you choose to ditch traditional networks and buy a Chromecast Ultra, how would you go about setting it up? And what are the major things you can do with it?
You can find out all that and more in our detailed Chromecast Ultra setup guide below.
What’s in the Box
The Chromecast Ultra comes with minimal equipment, which is part of Google’s attempts to make their home devices low-profile and simple to use.
In the box you’ll find:
- Chromecast Ultra
- Power cable connected to a power adapter with an Ethernet port
- Cards with setup and warranty information
With minimal hardware, there are certain prerequisites you’ll need so that you can use the device. You’ll need a working Wi-Fi connection, as well as a television with an available HDMI port.
To use the device to its full potential, it’s also recommended that you use it with a 4K TV and 5GHz router.
Chromecast vs. Chromecast Ultra
The Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra are similar in appearance, setup, and functionality. However, the major difference between the two devices is the resolution of the content that they can stream.
The original Chromecast streams content with a maximum resolution of 1080p (Full HD), while the Chromecast Ultra can stream 4K/2160p content (Ultra HD).
This is why it’s suggested that you connect your Chromecast Ultra to a 4K television. If you don’t have a UHD TV, you may want to opt for the original Chromecast instead.
Setting Up Your Chromecast Ultra: The Short Version
The Chromecast Ultra is relatively simple to set up, even for novices. The entire process consists of only a few steps, which you can see summarized below:
- Plug the power cable into an outlet and connect it to your Chromecast using the micro-USB port.
- Connect the Chromecast Ultra to your TV by plugging it into an HDMI port.
- Use the Google Home app or your Chrome browser to connect to the device.
- Follow the prompts from Google to configure the device.
These are the basic outlines of the steps. However, the full setup guide below goes through each stage in much more detail.
How to Set Up Your Chromecast Ultra: Detailed Steps
With the exception of the configuration process, the Chromecast Ultra’s setup has an almost plug-and-play level of ease.
You’ll need to make sure the device has a power source. To do this, plug the power cable into an appropriate outlet. You should then connect it to your Chromecast Ultra using the micro-USB port.
Once this is done, you can plug the Chromecast directly into an available HDMI port on your television. If the device is correctly plugged in, you will see a small white LED light begin flashing on round edge of the device. A blue screen will appear on your TV, prompting you to complete setup by configuring the device.
You will have two options for configuring the device: using the Chrome browser on your desktop, or using the Google Home app.
Configuring the Chromecast Ultra With Google Home
Using Google Home to configure your Chromecast Ultra is probably the most convenient option if you already have the app. The app comes in handy when it comes to managing your device on a daily basis. This means that even if you don’t have it installed already, it’s recommended that you give it a try.
After the Chromecast Ultra has been switched on, Google Home will let you know that a new device has been discovered. If your app hasn’t automatically detected this, you can simply select Discover, and it will pick up the Chromecast. Select the Chromecast in the app, and it will ask you if you want to set up the device. Select Next, and the setup process will begin.
Establish a Connection With the Chromecast Ultra
A loading screen will appear to notify you that the app is attempting to connect to the Chromecast Ultra. Sometimes you’ll need to wait a minute or so. During this time, your phone or tablet may disconnect from the Wi-Fi network.
If the connection process seems to be taking too long, you can cancel setup and attempt to connect again.
Once Google Home has connected with the Chromecast Ultra, it will prompt you to check that the code provided in the app matches the code seen on the TV. This is so that the user can make sure that they have connected to the correct device.
If the codes on your app and TV screen match, then you can proceed by selecting Yes. Should they not match, select No, and the app will provide you with the available devices again to attempt to connect to the correct one.
If you imported your Chromecast from another country, you’ll receive a warning that it may not be compatible with your router. However, we found that a router with a 2.4GHz frequency worked fine. Google, however, suggests 5GHz for the best results.
Connect Your Chromecast Ultra to Your Wi-Fi Network
Once you have confirmed the connection, the Home app will ask you to select the section of your house that the device is located in and which Wi-Fi connection you would like to use.
This step determines the way the app labels the device (e.g. Living Room TV), as well as the network it’s connected to. You can’t stream from your phone to your Chromecast without both devices being on the same network. Therefore, you should select the network that your smart devices, computers, and mobile devices are all connected to. This ensures that they work together seamlessly.
The app will then either try to retrieve your Wi-Fi password from your phone or you will need to manually enter it. Once this is done, the app will connect to the network.
After this point, the app will notify you that it uses your Google account. It will also provide you with a summary of the setup details, such as the Wi-Fi network and name of the device.
Simply select Continue, and you’ll receive a notification that setup was successful. You can then choose whether to go through the tutorial. This short demonstration shows users how to cast with the device.
This is an optional step, but it can be very useful for those who have never used a Chromecast before. Casting from your device to the Chromecast is very simple. You only need to press the ‘Cast’ button in a compatible app and select the device you want to use.
Configuring the Chromecast Ultra With Chrome
Configuring your Chromecast with Chrome is very similar to the process in Google Home. In fact, using Chrome is simply a different medium for setting up the device, rather than a different process.
To begin configuring your device, you’ll need to visit chromecast.com/setup from a desktop or laptop—not a mobile device like a phone or tablet. On the site, select the option to set up the device using your computer.
Selecting this option opens up a Chrome extension window: Chrome Media Router.
Establish a Connection With the Chromecast Ultra
If your computer is unable to detect your Chromecast Ultra, this is likely due to you being too far from the device. Moving closer usually resolves this. You will also need to make sure that you are connected to your Wi-Fi network.
Next, a screen will pop up with a four-digit code. You will know whether your PC has connected to the correct Chromecast if the code on your TV screen matches the code on your computer.
If the codes match, you can select Yes to proceed. If they don’t, you will need to select No, and your computer will retry the connection process.
Connect Your Chromecast Ultra to the Wi-Fi Network
Unlike the Google Home app, Chrome will not be able to automatically detect your Wi-Fi password. You will need to manually input the password.
This prompt will appear after you have saved the name of your Chromecast Ultra. Rather than selecting the room that your device is located in (like in the app), you will be asked to name your device. You can keep the default Chromecast model number, rename it according to the section of your house the device is located in (e.g., Living Room TV), or choose whichever name your heart so desires.
When you connect to your Wi-Fi network, make sure it is the same network that you use for the devices you plan to stream from. You cannot stream from your phone to your Chromecast Ultra if they are on different networks. Of course, you can change the network in your settings at a later stage if you wish to switch.
Once connected, the browser will load a screen stating which devices are ready to cast. If you have successfully set up your Chromecast, you’ll see its name displayed in this window.
Unlike with the Google Home app, you won’t receive a tutorial on how to cast from your various devices. However, this is a very simple process. While you are connected to the same network as your Chromecast Ultra, any app that’s compatible will show a Cast button. Pressing this button will allow you to choose the device you wish to cast to.
It looks like a rectangle with a Wi-Fi symbol in the lower left.
The Cast button can be found in both computer and mobile apps, however they sometimes function slightly differently. For example, casting YouTube from your browser results in one video playing at a time. However, using the YouTube mobile app allows you to easily queue videos that will automatically play.
Download: Chrome (Free)
Things You Can Do With Your Chromecast Ultra
Now that your Chromecast Ultra is set up, you might be wondering what the device can do. Among its most common features are various forms of media streaming, screen mirroring, and playing games.
There are also a variety of other tricks you can use with your Chromecast Ultra, including displaying news headlines. However, we’ll be focusing on the main features in this guide.
4K Video Streaming
The most-used and arguably the best feature of the Chromecast Ultra is 4K video streaming. The device is compatible with a large range of video streaming apps, including Netflix, Google Play Movies, Plex, BBC iPlayer, Twitch, and more.
You can cast video from your mobile devices or from the PCs on your Wi-Fi network. Certain sites come with native casting functionality (like YouTube), so you can stream straight from your browser.
If you want to cast video files stored on a device on your network (rather than streaming from the web), you could use a third-party service like Videostream.
You can also cast any Chrome tab or your entire desktop, which allows you to cast native videos or fullscreen videos from sites that don’t have built-in casting abilities.
Google has an entirely separate Chromecast device that you can use for music and audio: the Chromecast Audio. While this standalone device has more extensive audio functionality and features, you can also stream audio using the Chromecast Ultra.
Compatible apps include Google Play Music, Soundcloud, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, TuneIn Radio, Vevo, and many other music streaming services. Google also has a number of additional compatible apps listed on their Chromecast Ultra apps page.
Like with video apps, you simply need to press the Cast button to play your media on your Chromecast.
An oft-overlooked feature of the Chromecast Ultra is the ability to play games on the device. You will need to download ones with Chromecast compatibility, since not all games work with the device.
Many of these Chromecast games are multiplayer or boardgame titles. Tricky Titans, Angry Birds Go!, Just Dance Now and Scrabble Blitz are among the surprisingly large number of games you can play on the device.
Integrate With Google Home
Like any of Google’s other smart devices, you can control the Chromecast Ultra using a Google Home speaker and Google Assistant. This is useful if you want a completely hands-free way to control your casting device.
Commands you can use include ones like “OK Google, cast YouTube to the Chromecast,” which will open up the YouTube app and allow you to select a video to play.
Google Assistant commands on mobile devices are slightly more limited, but can be used to pause or stop whatever you’re streaming on the Chromecast. This is especially useful if the play menu for your Chromecast is no longer displaying on your phone—a bug that sometimes occurs if you’ve been playing content for some time without interacting with the app.
The screen mirroring feature of the Chromecast is very reminiscent of Apple’s Airplay feature. Screen mirroring is useful when you want to display something on a bigger screen (such as photos, a browser window, etc).
You can also use this feature to show presentations in an office setting, or you can simply use it as a way to work on a larger display without needing to attach your PC using cables.
Troubleshooting: Common Problems With Chromecast Ultra
There are a variety of things that can interfere with the setup or use of your Chromecast Ultra. In fact, sometimes your Chromecast interferes with your Wi-Fi connection.
Here are a few of the common problems you may find when setting up and using your Chromecast Ultra.
Chrome Media Router Extension Won’t Load
While attempting to set up our Chromecast using Chrome, we encountered a problem where the Chrome Media Router extension would just not load. While the browser would open a separate tab for the extension, it would just hang on a loading screen.
In our case, it turns out that the Google Hangouts extension was interfering with the Chromecast extension. We removed our Hangouts extension temporarily to bypass this problem.
If you are struggling to load this window, you may want to see which extension or plugin may be halting the loading process.
Chromecast Not Showing Up When Attempting to Cast
Sometimes, despite having already been set up, your Chromecast won’t appear on the menu of available devices when you attempt to cast. This is usually due to the Chromecast disconnecting from your Wi-Fi network. You could also have disconnected your mobile device from the Wi-Fi network (and you may be on your mobile network or another Wi-Fi network instead).
Check that all your devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and that the network connection is working properly. If your router has lost internet connection, you might need to reboot it or solve the cause of the internet disconnection.
Media Won’t Cast After Playing Content From Elsewhere
The Chromecast Ultra isn’t infallible. You may encounter some hiccups when trying to switch from casting media in one app to casting media from another app (for example, switching from Netflix to YouTube).
You can usually remedy this by going into the Google Home app and manually choosing Stop Casting for your Chromecast. If this doesn’t work, you can also use the device settings to reboot the Chromecast.
What’s Your Favorite Chromecast Ultra Feature?
Now that you know what it takes to set up the Chromecast Ultra, as well as a few of the things the device can do, you may see the appeal of investing in one. However, there are a few more things the device can do. For example, it can double up as a second computer monitor.