Chromecast v2

For the most part it really doesn't matter what a Chromecast looks like. It's one of those devices in which what it does truly is the important part, especially since in all likelihood it's going to be tucked behind your TV, out of sight. So it's all the more curious that there are now three colors of Chromecast available in the second incarnation. (Two of the colors — Coral and Lemonade — are only available from Google. Black you'll find anywhere.) On the other hand, sometimes you want something hot and flashy to peek through every now and then.

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And we'd argue that the Chromecast is one of Google's most important devices from a end-user standpoint. It's absolutely clever, using a phone or tablet to initiate a stream, but not actually using the phone or tablet to do the streaming. It's grown in scope — adding support for Google Photos, Spotify and even more backdrop options — as well as in popularity, with more than 20 million first-version Chromecasts in homes today.

More: Where to buy the new Chromecast

And so here's a look at the new-and-improved Chromecast. (Be sure to check out the new app as well.) It now has support for 802.11ac Wifi, as well as the 5GHz channel — one of our top wish-list items — and three antennas that adapt to give you the best stream.

But the biggest change may be physically. It's now designed to connect as a corded dongle instead as a self-contained unit that plugs straight into your TV or receiver. So you've got a few inches of slack to play with. The end of the HDMI cable is magnetic as well, so it can clip back to the body of the Chromecast if need be. And while it's still dependent on external power, it comes with a 1.75-meter cable to get that job done.

Not bad for a $35 accessory, eh?