Review: Google Chromecast Ultra or What Happens When A Stream Runs Dry?

I purchased the Google Chromecast Ultra for one reason—to stream movies from FilmStruck.

If we replace “FilmStruck” with “Tidal”, we have many an audiophile’s worst nightmare. The question is, how hellish is the loss of a streaming service? I’m here to tell you—it ain’t that bad.

I paid $99.00 for a year of FilmStruck streaming back in August. As you probably know, not only is FilmStruck’s library chock full of art house movies and foreign films, but the service also included access to The Criterion Collection, 1,295 (at present) of the greatest films ever made [footnote 1]. Google’s Chromecast Ultraoffered access to the FilmStruck streaming service (and many others) while offering up to 4K Ultra HD and HDR quality for a whopping $69.00.

My total outlay for access to thousands of great films, not movies, came to $168.00. Since August 5, 2018, I’ve streamed tons of movies from Filmstruck. The list is much too long to include in its entirety, besides I didn’t keep track, but some highlights include Herzog’s Aguirre, The Wrath of God, The Wages of Fear (French: Le salaire de la peur), La Jetée, Carnival of Souls, The Mackintosh Man, The Killer, Alphaville, The Asphalt Jungle, M, Peeping Tom, The Passion of Joan of Arc, The Blood of a Poet, Vagabond, Cries and Whispers, Mon oncle, Häxan, 8 1/2, That Obscure Object of Desire, The Killers, Le Samouraï, Veronika Voss, Through A Glass Darkly, a bunch of Hammer horror films, and more.

Total cost of streaming FilmStruck + Google Chromecast Ultra = $91.24
The Value of the Experience = priceless

Is watching Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker worth less than a dollar (assuming I watched a total of 100 films)? Of course it is, although that’s a really silly question, don’t you think?

My point being there’s nothing lost in my relatively brief experience with FilmStruck. Seeing as their library and those films still exist as does The Criterion Collection and its vast library of the greatest films ever made, the content doesn’t automagically get deleted, it just isn’t so easy to access. Besides, there’s already talk of a Filmstruck revival and Criterion is launching their own streaming service next spring (yay!).

Let’s say Tidal similarly shutters at the end of the month (it’s not going to but let’s play along). I’ve been streaming music from Tidal for years and that what did I hear list is longer than time itself (that’s a bit of an exaggeration). For me, my Tidal experience has also been priceless as there is no way to monetize the joy and experience of listening to so, much, music. But if Tidal stopped, I still have that experience and the music doesn’t automagically get deleted, it just isn’t so easy to access.

I say, enjoy it while you can. It’s that simple.

Google Chromecast Ultra Review

Our home network offers an average download speed of 300Mbps so things like Netflix, Roon, Hulu, and cable TV’s On Demand work without a hiccup. Not so with Chromcast Ultra / FilmStruck. There were fairly regular buffering issues and complete crashes requiring a hard reboot of the Chromecast device. Overall, kinda crappy.

The FilmStruck interface on my iPhone was a bit of pain to use, especially when trying to forward or reverse your way around as the slider seemed to have a mind of its own. Perhaps most annoying was when returning from pausing a film, it wouldn’t re-start where I left off, instead going back to some random point much earlier on. The app also froze on occasion, requiring a reboot. Overall, kinda crappy.

Come November 29, 2018 when FilmStruck goes dark, I’ll have no real use for the Google Chromecast Ultra and that’s just fine by me. It’ll go on moth balls (remember those?) at least until The Criterion Collection’s new service releases a list of compatible devices.

I’ll say it again— enjoy the endless stream of the greatest films ever made and more music than you could ever possibly listen to while you can. It’s that simple.

Guess what I’m going to be doing for the next 10 days?

Footnote 1. With our cable TV package, Netflix, Amazon, etc, we already have access to thousands of movies. The thing of it is, 99% of them don’t interest me.