The best VR games for Oculus Quest in 2019

Oculus Quest has been released. As compared with the Rift or HTC Vive, it lacks quality of graphics. But, An untethered standalone VR headset provides complete freedom which makes up for the lack of graphics. Although game titles are still few, there are many great games available to purchase. Here are the best VR games for Oculus Quest in 2019.

Beat Saber ($29.99)

Beat Saber is one of the top-selling VR games. It’s been already a hit in other platforms like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR. The game for the Quest was released along with the hardware, and it became the most popular game.

image of beat saber oculus vr game

Beat Saber is a rhythm game. In the game, you have two different colors of lightsabers in each hand. You have to slash cubes coming at you with them. The cubes are also in two different colors with arrows. You have to slash them with the lightsaber matched with the color and the direction. It’s simple but highly addictive.

There are around 20 songs included with a purchase of the game for $29.99, and each song has 5 different levels. It doesn’t require an internet connection to play. But, with the internet connection, your scores will be automatically updated in the ranking every time you complete a song. You can compete for the score with all players around the world.

The developer is adding the new songs to the game. There have been 10 additional songs (Monstercat music pack vol 1) for $12.99. And, 10 new songs (Imagine Dragons) are available now for $12.99. You can purchase each song for $1.99. But, I think it’s a little expensive. You can purchase the new songs through the headset, a mobile app, or the website. But, somehow, the 10-song package price is available to purchase through the headset only.

Read Also: How to add custom songs to Beat Saber

Vader Immortal: Episode I ($9.99)

Vader Immortal: Episode I is an adventure game which gives you experiences in the world of Star Wars. Instead of watching characters in the movies, the story is happening around you. You can experience lightsaber battles and even get to know how it feels like when you come face to face with Darth Vader.

image of vader immortal episode 1

There are many other interactions like climbing ladders, break a jail cell, etc. However, there is no much of the gaming element. You never die or fail in the game. The story just continues on and on after you do something. The story is about 45 minutes. Honestly, it’s short for the price of $9.99.

However, there is a sub-game called Lightsaber Dojo. You can hone your skill of Lightsaber. There are 40 levels to complete. The untethered VR headset is suitable for this training because enemies (drones) attacks are coming from all around 360 degrees. The next episode is coming soon. There are three episodes in total.

Superhot VR ($24.99)

Superhot VR is an action shooting game. You have to hit enemies by punching or with guns, ninja’s throwing stars or anything that you can grab and throw.

image of superhot vr oculus quest rift s

Enemies try to kill by punching or with a gun as well. You are alone. In all stages, you are outnumbered. It seems you are always in a desperate situation. However, you have a special ability. You can control time. Time stops when you are not moving. Any movement you make, the time restarts. The faster you move, the faster the time goes, and so do enemies.

Take advantage of this, assess the situation and which enemies you have to take care of first. Even when the enemy fired a gun, you can dodge the bullet. Out of bullets? Don’t give up. there still is a way to survive. Let the enemies come close enough to snatch their guns and shoot them with their guns.

Robo Recall: Unplugged ($29.99)

Robo Recall is a first-person shooting game. Your task in the game is to do a product recall. The products, however, are robots which wield weapons and got out of control. Thus, you need to shut them down.

image of robo recall unplugged oculus vr game

Shoot them down with various weapons. You have an unlimited supply of ammo, but each clip has a limit. When it is out of ammo, toss it to the ground and pull a new fully loaded weapon from the holster. Touch controllers work seamlessly a series of actions. You can even grab a robot and tear it apart, or pluck a bullet and toss it back.

It has been around on other platforms and has positive reviews. Now that the game is available on the Quest, you no longer have to worry about the cables tethered to the headset. The Quest’s complete wireless feature allows you to enjoy a full of thrill and freshness.

Drop Dead: Dual Strike Edition ($14.99)

Drop Dead is a zombie apocalypse shooting game. The original version was released for Gear VR in 2016 and for the Rift in 2017. The story remains the same. You are in the time of zombie apocalypse. You and the former CIA agents should survive in the attacks of zombies and stop the mad scientist Dr. Monday, who is responsible for the zombie apocalypse.

image of drop dead dual strike edition oculus vr game

Dual Strike edition allows you to wield two weapons in each hand. The weapons are not only guns but also melee weapons like baseball bats, scythes, axes, and pitchforks. You can even hit back spitter slime.

Drop Dead: Dual Strike is Cross-buy title. If you purchase this game for the Quest, you can get the Rift version for free or vise Versa. Cross-play between Rift and Quest is also supported.

Moss ($29.99)

VR games are not only for categories of sports, shooting, horror, or any other genre of first-person playing games. Moss proved that. Moss is an action-adventure puzzle game. The main character of the game is a tiny white mouse named Quill. You take control of Quill with Touch controller. Quill jumps, climbs up cliffs, and combats with enemies by slashing a sword, but most of the gameplay is to solve puzzles to find ways through.

image of moss vr oculus game quest rift s

While you control Quill, you also have a magical power over the world of Moss, such as moving blocks and capturing the enemies to help Quill’s adventure. If you see only screenshots of gameplay, you may wonder why this game has to be VR. It’s true, it looks like you could play on TV. However, thanks to VR, you can interact a lot with the world inside the game. Sometimes, you need to lean and peak the area that may have clues for solving the puzzles. Sometimes, you need to move blocks or control the enemies by reaching hand and pulling and pushing. These are the experiences that only VR games can provide.

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You can watch Amazon Prime Video on VR headset now

Amazon has launched its streaming app for some VR headsets. Prime Video VR is free and available for GearVR, Oculus Go, and Oculus Quest. You can watch prime videos on those VR headsets.

image of amazon prime video vr for oculus go quest gearvr

It’s good for prime members who regularly watch prime videos. There have been other video VR apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTubeVR for an almost entire time since the debut of VR headset, but this is the first VR app from Amazon.

image of amazon prime vr app oculus go quest gearvr

The benefit of using a VR headset to watch videos is that you can watch them on a big virtual screen. When you play a video, you are in a theater. you can choose three different sizes of the screen. And you have the option to switch to the screen-only mode that you can move the screen wherever you like it to be, so you can always bring it to the front of you. For example, you lie down in bed with your face up, move the screen to the front as if you have a big screen TV on the ceiling.

If you have Oculus Quest, the feature of six-degree of freedom is available in some areas in the app. I found that in the home screen and the theater. It’s up to you to move to the aisle seat or back to the end row. You may find something interesting when you walk around. But I don’t know and I can’t even walk around because my room is so small to explore the virtual home town and theater.

In addition to watching prime videos, there are ten 360-degree videos at launch. A familiar Asteroids! and Invasion! by baobab studios are included. All of these are free to watch. I hope Amazon adds more 360-degree videos.

There are a few things for the app to need to be improved. First VR contents are few. It should be more. It’s been several years now since the first edition of GearVR was released. Other video streaming apps have existed for years as well. Why didn’t Amazon prepare for more VR contents during the time? Second, there is no 3D movies or videos. VR headsets are useful for not only 360-degree videos but also 3D movies.

As a Prime member myself, the launch of Prime Video VR is definitely good news. I’m going to use the app from time to time. However, considering that it’s been quite a while since VR’s debut, I think Amazon should have had more VR contents like 360 videos or 3D movies at launch.

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Oculus Quest Travel Case Comparison

Oculus Quest is a standalone VR headset. It provides a room-scale VR experience without any external sensors. It allows you to take it to somewhere else, set up quickly, and enjoy. There is a problem when you carry it around. Oculus Quest doesn’t come with a travel case. All-in-one design headset contains a processor in itself as well as all other components such as a display and tracking sensors. They are delicate and require appropriate protection. And also, VR lenses are free from contacts of any objects to avoid scratches. There are many types of cases and bags on the market. Here is a comparison of the most popular Oculus Quest travel cases.

Oculus Quest Travel Case

Oculus Quest Travel Case is an official softshell case by Oculus. The Oculus’s logo is on the flap. The case provides a snug fit with minimal padding. It has double zippers and a strap to handle the case.

image of oculus quest official travel case
  • Dimensions: 11.8″ x 8.1″ x 5.1″
  • Weight: 15.8 oz

Pros

  • Small and compact
  • Double zippers

Cons

  • Not much room for additional accessories

The official Oculus Quest travel case has dedicated areas for a headset, controllers, charging cable, and wall adapter. You may be able to put a small portable battery pack but not large size headphones. If you want just a case, not a bag, this is probably the best one.

image of oculus quest travel case

Esimen Carrying Case

Esimen Carrying Case is a softshell case with a sturdy handle with double zippers. The controllers are stored vertically. Inside, there is a Velcro strap for the headset and elastic bands for the controllers to secure the components. It includes an accessory pouch for a charging cable and wall adapter.

image of esimen carrying case for oculus quest
  • Dimension: 11.1″ x 9.4″ x 6.3″
  • Weight 15.2 oz

Pros

  • Compact and small
  • Double zipper
  • Sturdy handle

Cons

  • Too round
  • Too tall
  • No dedicated compartment for accessories
  • Not much room for additional accessories

Esimen Carrying Case is compact. However, it has more height because the controllers are stored vertically. So, the overall shape is round. It looks a bit strange. Carrying Case includes an accessories pouch for charging cable and wall adapter. There is no dedicated area or strap to secure the pouch. Instead, you place it in a space inside. It may have enough room for a small portable battery pack but not for large size headphones.

image of esimen carrying case

Esimen Fashion Travel Case

Esimen Fashion Travel Case is a flat rectangular softshell. You can use it as not only a case but also a shoulder bag. In addition to a carry handle, there is a detachable shoulder strap. It equips an internal belt to secure the controllers and double zipper to open quickly, The inside of the flap has zippered pockets. It has a dedicated area for the headset, controllers, charging cable, wall adapter, and glass spacer, plus additional room for some accessories.

image of esimen fashion travel case for oculus quest
  • Dimension: 14.2″ x 9.4″ x 3.9″
  • Weight: 11.2 oz

Pros

  • Shoulder bag design
  • Internal zippered pockets
  • Some room for additional accessories
  • Adjustable and detachable shoulder strap
  • Lens protection pad included
  • Charging cable strap included

Cons

  • Not enough room for large size accessories

Esimen Fashion Travel Case has a good design. A rectangular shape with a should strap looks cool and natural in public. It includes a lens protection pad and charging cable strap. There is some extra room for additional accessories, but it may not be big enough for large size accessories.

image of esimen fashion travel case

Insignia Virtual Reality Gear Backpack

Insignia Virtual Reality Gear Backpack looks a plain and ordinary backpack on the outside, but it’s designed to store electronics in the inside. It has a lot of cushioning, and the main compartment is customizable for the headset and controllers. The subcompartment has multiple pockets for charging cable, wall charger, battery, and more. The outer zipped pocket is for something you need to access frequently. There is a meshed pocket on each side.

image of insignia virtual reality gear backpack
  • Dimension: 14″ x 8″ x 6″
  • Weight: 1.1 lb

Pros

  • Backpack design
  • Customizable compartment
  • Extra room for additional accessories
  • Can be used for other electronics

Cons

  • Not suitable for storage

Insignia backpack is veritable. It looks an ordinary backpack, but it’s very functional and practical for carrying electronics. The main compartment is easily customizable for the headset and controllers. It has extra room for additional accessories. As you can see, it’s a backpack, not a case for storage.

image of insignia vr gear backpack

Casematix Carry Case

Casemaxtix Carry Case is a hard shell carrying case. It offers superior protection against impacts, drops, etc. The internal foam is pre-cut so you can customize compartments easily. There is an extra room for additional accessories.

image of casematix carry case
  • Dimension: 16″ x 13″ x 6″
  • Weight: 2.5 lb

Pros

  • High protection
  • Pre-cut internal foam for easy customization
  • Extra room for additional accessories
  • Can be used for other electronics

Cons

  • Having to carry in hand

Casematix Carry Case is the sturdiest construction among the cases or bag in this post. On the other hand, it’s the largest and heaviest case, and it doesn’t fit in daypacks or other small to medium sized bags. The only option to carry is to hold it in your hand. Pre-cut foams are easy to customize. It also means that you can use it for other electronics. The case has enough room for large size accessories.

image of casematix carry case with customizable foam

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The best Oculus Quest accessories on Amazon

Oculus Quest was finally released. I believe you enjoy room-scale VR experiences with an untethered standalone headset. After weeks of usage, you may think of the need for some additional items for the headset. Here are the best Oculus Quest accessories on Amazon.com.

Energizer Rechargeable AA and AAA Battery Charger

Touch Controllers come with the Oculus Quest VR headset. And each controller is powered by an AA battery. If you are using regular disposable batteries, you are going to need lots of them.

image of energizer rechargeable aa aaa battery charger

Energizer Rechargeable battery charger comes with 4 AA rechargeable batteries. You can charge two or four batteries at the same time. It takes 3 to 5 hour to recharge. So, you can always keep two full-charged battery as spares. The charger has an LED indicator to show the charging progress and an audio alert to tell you when a charge is complete.

Travel Case for Oculus Quest

Oculus Quest has successfully introduced the room-scale VR technology without any external hardware. You may want to take it to somewhere else like your friend’s house or go on a vacation with it. Even if you use mostly at home, it’s good to have a case to store the headset. After weeks of its release, there have been many travel cases for Oculus Quest on the market. Here are some different types of cases.

image of oculus quest official travel case

Oculus Quest offical travel case is available for $40. It’s probably the snuggest fit of all. Overall size is small and compact, but the downside is that it doesn’t have much room for extra items like AA batteries and a portable battery pack.

image of esimen fashion travel case for oculus quest

Esimen Fashion Travel Case has a little more extra room than Oculus official travel case. The back of the lid has zipped pockets. You can put cables, cleaning cloth, etc. Outside, it has a carry handle and detachable shoulder strap.

image of casematix carry case

Casematix Carry Case is a hardshell case with fully customizable foam inside. The foam is pre-cut, so you can easily make compartments for the headset, controllers, and something else you need to carry. 13″ x 16″ x 4″ case has plenty of room. You can even store large headphones with the headset and controllers.

Google Chromecast (3rd Gen or Ultra)

image of chromecast ultra

VR gamings tend to be isolating, but Facebook has prepared for the problem. You can share VR experiences with your friends by using Chromecast. Casting your gameplay to the TV lets everyone see what you are playing and enjoy the moment together. At the time of writing, supported models of Chomecast are 3rd gen and Ultra. (Updated 10/18/2019, you can cast to all generations of Chomecast. Click here to see details)

Read Also: Chromecast Generations and Variations Comparison

Anti-Fog Spray

image of jaws quick spit antifog spary

If you have a problem of fogging up on the headset lenses or your glasses, try this spray. Jaws Quick Spit Antifog Spray works on any glass or plastic. You can also use it on other things like dive masks, swim goggles, safety goggles, ski goggles, windows, binoculars, telescopes, etc.

Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

image of amazonbasics microfiber cleaning cloth

You need to use a delicate cloth to clean the lenses of Oculus Quest, so you keep them from making small scratches on them. The AmazonBasics Microfiber Cleaning Cloth 6-pack is safe to use on any surface like TVs, computer monitors, laptops, tablets, smartphones, camera lenses, etc. It’s good to be used with an anti-fog spray above.

Disposable VR Mask

image of vr mask 100pcs

The face pad of Oculus Quest is made of foam and cloth. It absorbs your sweat. It is washable, but you can’t do that when you pass the headset around with your friends. It’s not comfortable to wear without some sort of protection. The VR mask prevents direct contact your face with the face pad. The item is 100-piece non-woven fabric and disposable face masks.

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Oculus Quest review – the best standalone VR headset

Oculus Quest was released on May 21, 2019, a year after Oculus Go, which is another standalone VR headset developed by the same company. A big difference between these headsets is Oculus Quest has the six-degree of freedom (6DoF) tracking. The 6DoF tracking technology has been already existing for years in other headsets such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but the Quest is the first and currently the only standalone VR headset with 6DoF.

image of oculus quest

What’s in the box

  • Oculus Quest headset
  • Touch Controller (L), (R)
  • 15W power adapter
  • USB-C cable
  • Spacer for a user with eyeglasses
  • AA batteries
image of oculus quest whats in the box

Design

The Quest looks so compact and is lightweight. A front plate is black plastic, and there are four tracking cameras around each corner. A power button is on the right, and USB-C port for charging is on the left. The rest of the body of the headset is coated by a fabric. There are two 3.5 mm headphone jacks on both sides. The volume buttons and IPD (inter-pupil distance) adjustment slider are on the bottom.

A head strap is made of soft and flexible rubber. It keeps its shape like a helmet all the time. Velcros are attached on the top and both sides to fit and secure the headset on your head. The straps on the sides go through brackets. The brackets have built-in speakers. 3D spatial audio comes out from the slits on the ends of the brackets.

The head strap is ergonomic, sleek, and functional. But, when I play games required a lot of movement such as Beat Saber, the head strap never seems tight enough. I guess a headband that is used Rift S or PSVR is more suitable for gaming VR headsets. The reason the Quest has a head strap is that the company wants to emphasize its portability. A VR headset with a headband is too bulky to carry around. That is why the Rift S has a headband. The Rift S has to be tethered to a gaming computer, and it’s not meant to be portable.

A face pad made of foam and cloth attached to a plastic frame. You can remove it from the headset to wash. It’s relatively comfortable. But, I feel a pressure on the cheekbones and have marks there for a while every after the usage.

Controllers

Two Touch controllers are included. They are similar with the ones for Oculus Rift and exactly the same as ones for Rift S. Each one has a clickable thumbstick, two buttons, home button, trigger, and grip button.

image of oculus touch controller

It’s powered by an AA battery. A battery door slides open and close. Built-in magnet keeps the door close without a latch or screws. Wrist straps prevent you from throwing the controller accidentally during gameplay. The strap is detachable. You can remove it by opening the battery door and sliding it upward.

After setting up, you will take a tutorial lesson called First Steps. In the lesson, you learn how to pick up an object, put it down, throw it, or hit it with the other object. You have the opportunity to learn and use the full capability of the controllers in First Steps.

Display

The Quest has dual OLED, 1440 x 1600 per eye resolution displays.
It’s better than the Oculus Rift 1080 x 1200 per-eye resolution, and the Oculus Go and Rift S 1280 x 1440 per-eye resolutions. Thanks to dual displays, the Quest can adjust IPD (inter pupil distance) by a slider on the bottom.

Oculus Insight

Inside out tracking system called Oculus Insight offers the 6DoF. It allows you to move in a virtual world. Built-in tracking cameras makes Oculus Insight work without a need for external cameras. The same kind of tracking system is used in the Rift S.

image of oculus insight

Oculus Insight keeps tracking on the controllers, too. Not only the position of the controllers the system can keep tracking, but it can also tell the angles and directions of them. Oculus Insight successfully offers the 6DoF on both the headset and the controllers.

Oculus Guardian

Oculus Guardian is a safety system set up before you play games. The system creates a virtual wall on a boundary line you draw where you can move freely with no obstacles in your room. The virtual wall is a green grid. It appears when you get close to the boundary. When you get really close to it, that part of the green grid turns red to get your more attention.

If you use the Quest in the same place, you don’t have to set up the boundary every time. The Quest remembers the boundary you set up last time, and somehow it can tell where that is. So, all you have to do is turn on the headset and start playing. If you play in a new place, you have to set up a new boundary, and the Quest will forget the old one. The boundary setup is way too easy, anyway. Just draw a virtual line on a floor with the controller. That’s it. It doesn’t even take a minute.

Passthrough

When you get out of the boundary or stick out your head through the virtual wall, you can see a real world in black and white. The built-in tracking cameras are now used as lenses for you to see a real world without taking off the headset. This feature is called Passthrough.

Battery

The headset has a built-in rechargeable battery. You can charge it via an included USB-C cable and a wall adapter. According to Oculus, battery life is about 2 to 3 hours. For me, it’s more than enough. I can’t just play VR continuously for hours.

Games and Apps

50 titles were launched along with Oculus Quest. You can purchase and download with the headset or through the Oculus mobile app. The Oculus mobile app is shared with GO and Rift. Make sure to select “Oculus Quest” from a drop-down and then look for games and apps.

Here are some popular games and apps. Beat Saber is a unique rhythm game. You have a lightsaber in each hand and cut cubes coming at you with the music. There should be a demo version. You should try. I played and purchased and got addicted to it.

Superhot VR is an action shooting game. Shoot, grab, throw, you can experience the full capability of Touch controllers in this game. The standalone, untethered VR headset allows you to turn around and around without worrying tripping over wires or cables.

Wander is a world travel app. It uses data from Google StreetView to show you 360-degree images and Wikipedia for you to learn about historic places.

Vader Immortal Episode 1 is an adventure game of Star Wars experience from LucasFilm. You are the main character in the story. You can learn how to handle a lightsaber, and there are many other interactions inside the story. I’m longing for the next episode.

Price

Oculus Quest costs $399 for 64GB, and $499 for 128GB. Unfortunately, there is no memory card slot to expand a storage.

For a comparison, Oculus Go cost $199 for 32GB, and $249 for 64GB. Oculus Rift S costs the same $399. However, the Rift S needs a gaming computer.

Conclusion

Oculus Quest successfully introduced new technology and opened the door of the VR industry to more people. Some people have been interested in VR but hesitant about buying it because of an expensive startup cost, uneasy setup, or having to be tethered all the time. Oculus Quest solved these problems. The price $399, considering you don’t need anything else to start VR, is reasonable.

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Chromecast Generations and Variations Comparison

Chromcast is a digital media streaming device developed by Google. The device allows you to play streaming audio or video contents on your home audio system or TV through apps on a mobile device and computer. At the time of writing, Google has released three generations and two variations, Chromecast Audio and Chromecast Ultra. Here is the post about Chromecast generations and variations.

1st Generation ($35)

The 1st generation Chromecast was released in 2013, introducing Google Cast technology, which allows you to watch contents with your mobile device on a big screen TV. It uses your home WiFi to connect between Chromecast and mobile devices. There are two different methods to cast contents to your TV.

For Chromecast-enabled apps, such as Youtube, Hulu, and Netflix, once you cast, the app can be running on a background so you can do other things with your mobile device or computer.

You can still cast unsupported apps to your TV by using the mirroring feature. With this feature, whatever is displaying on your mobile device or computer also displays on TV, and sound comes out from TV. As compared with casting Chromecast-enable apps, the mirroring feature has a little lag and may experience sluggish motions.

Both methods need a mobile device or computer to control contents to pause, resume, skip, and so on. They are all features of Chromecast, as well as 2nd gen, 3rd gen, and Ultra. It may seem a few, but the possibility is endless. Since the debut of the 1st gen, software updates have been improving the performance of Chromecast, and more and more third-party apps are getting supported.

2nd Generation ($35)

The 2nd generation Chomecast was released in 2015. It completely changed the design. While the 1st gen is stick-shaped, the 2nd gen is disc-shaped with a short HDMI cable attached. A disc-shaped body has a built-in magnet so you can stick it to the back of your TV. The same design continues on newer models and variations, including the 3rd gen, Ultra, and Audio.

3rd Generation ($35)

image of the 3rd generation of chromecast

The 3rd generation Chomecast was released in 2018. It has almost the same same size as the 2nd gen and slightly a different design on its body. It supports 1080-pixel at 60 frame per second.

Chromecast Ultra ($69)

Chromecast Ultra was released in 2016. It has the same disc-shaped body, but slightly larger than 2nd and 3rd gens. It supports 4K UltraHD and high-dynamic range through HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats.

image of chromecast ultra

Unlike the other models, Chromecast Ultra needs a power supply from a wall outlet, not from a USB port on the TV. Thus, an included power adapter is one piece: a power cable is not separate from a wall adapter. And, this adapter has an Ethernet port, so you have an option to use Ethernet cable to connect to the internet instead of WiFi.

If your home WiFi system is not stable or reliable, you may have a benefit to using this adapter with Ethernet cable. And, this power adapter is compatible with all other models. You can purchase the Ethernet power adapter separately.

Chromecast Audio ($35)

Chromecast Audio was released in 2015 at the same time as the 2nd generation of Chromecast. It’s the disc-shaped body with micro USB port for power and 3.5mm jack on the other. An included 3.5mm Aux cable plus into the jack, and the other end is plugged into an aux jack of your home speakers.

It works in the same way as regular Chromecast, but it’s just audio version. When you use multiple Chromecast Audio devices connecting to multiple speakers and group them. And you can play the same music across multiple speakers. Back then, the concept was appealing. However, with the advent of smart speakers like Google Home mini and Amazon Echo Dot, the features of Chromecast Audio became useless.

Instead of buying multiple Chromecast Audios, you can buy multiple smart speakers, which is the same price range or even lower prices, and group them. You may also connect them to your home speakers with Aux cables. They just work the same for the same or maybe lower investment, plus you will get voice assistance feature. As a result, Chromecast Audio has discontinued in January 2019.

Which one should you buy?

At the time of writing, the 3rd gen Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra are being manufactured. The other models are discontinued. If you have 4K TV, Chromecast Ultra is the one that is capable of streaming contents with the same resolution. If you don’t have 4K TV or not planning to buy one anytime soon, the half price, 3rd gen Chromecast will be enough.

Should you upgrade from older generations?

Not necessarily unless you need the 4K support Chromecast Ultra. There have been many improvements since its debut, but it’s on the software side, not the devices. All generations of Chromecast has the features of “Cast” and “Mirror.” That’s all. And, that has been the same from the 1st to the 3rd. Unless you want to stream 4K contents, I don’t think you need to upgrade from the 1st or the 2nd to the 3rd gen.

Product
(Model#)
Chromecast
1st Generation
(H2G2-42)
Chromecast
2nd Generation
(NC2-6A5)
Chromecast
3rd Generation
(GA00439)
Chromecast
Audio
(RUX-J42)
Chromecast
Ultra
(GA3A00403A14)
Released Year20132105201820152016
Regular Price$35$35$35$35$69
Dimension2.83" x 1.38" x 0.47"2.04" x 2.04" x 0.53"2.04" x 2.04" x 0.54"2.04" x 2.04" x 0.53"2.29" x 2.29" x 0.54"
Weight1.2 oz1.38 oz1.4 oz1.08 oz1.66 oz
Display1080p1080p@30fps
or
720p@60fps
1080p@60fpsn/a4K Ultra HD
High dynamic range (HDR10, Dolby Vision)
Included AccessoriesUSB cable
Wall adapter
USB cable
Wall adapter
USB cable
Wall adapter
USB cable
Wall adapter
3.5mm audio cable
USB Ethernet power adapter

Ways to connect SiriusXM Satellite Radio to vehicle’s audio

SiriusXM satellite radio unit needs to connect your vehicle’s audio system. Most SiriusXM satellite radios has several options for that. The company describes each option as either Best, Better, or Good to present sound quality through each option. Here are four different connecting options.

  1. Aux in cable (Best)
  2. Cassette adapter (Better)
  3. PowerConnect (Good)
  4. FM Direct Adapter (Best)
image of siriusxm satellite radio with vehicle kit

1. Aux in cable (Best)

If you buy a satellite radio with vehicle kit, a 3.5mm aux cable for this connection should be included. How to connect is straightforward. Plug one end to aux jack on the dock of satellite radio and the other end to aux jack on your car stereo.

image of siriusxm aux in cable

Please note that the location of the aux jack varies by the models of vehicle. While most of them are located on the faceplate of car stereo, it can be somewhere distant from the car stereo. It may be hidden in a glove compartment or center console.

Keep in mind that older vehicles may not have the jack in the first place. So, if you can’t find the jack on common places, you’d better refer to the owner manual to save you time.

2. Cassette Adapter (Better)

If your car stereo has a cassette player, you have an option to use Cassette Adapter. A cassette adapter looks like a cassette tape with a cord attached on the side. And, the end of the cord is a 3.5mm plug. Plug it into aux jack on the dock and insert the cassette to the car stereo.

image of siriusxm cassette adapter

It works in almost the same way as Aux in cable. However, since electricity has to go through the adapter and then a cassette player, sound quality should be reduced as compared with Aux in cable.

None of SiriusXM satellite radio includes a cassette adapter. It’s not that expensive. The price ranges from $10 to $20. Just choose one with good reviews like this one. And, it’s important to not confuse with Bluetooth cassette adapters. They also look like a cassette tape with a cord. But, the end of the cord is not a 3.5mm plug but a button (which may answer, call, and control a connected cell phone.) Bluetooth cassette adapters just don’t work with SiriusXM satellite radios.

3. PowerConnect (Good)

PowerConnect is basically an FM transmitter. All devices are built into most SiriusXM statellite radios with Vehicle kit. It consists of a power adapter, the dock, and the tuner. You don’t need extra accessories to use this option.

image of siriusxm powerconnect

PowerConnect uses FM channels that are not being used by local FM stations. Once you find ones, match up, check the sound quality, and configure the setting on the satellite radio. The configuration procedure varies by model of SiriusXM satellite radio. Please see the instruction manual of your satellite radio.

PowerConnect transmits FM signal to the air and your car stereo tunes to it. So, you can say that it’s just another FM channel in terms of sound quality. SiriusXM describes this option as “Good,” but it’s the lowest quality of all.

4. FM Direct Adapter (Best)

FM Direct Adapter (FMDA) connects a satellite radio to an FM antenna port of a car stereo. Unlike PowerConnect, audio doesn’t go through the air. So, it’s virtually static-free. An existing FM antenna is also connected to the FMDA so you can listen to local FM radio stations when a satellite radio turns off.

image of siriusxm fm direct adapter

To install the FMDA, you have to open up the panel and pull out the car stereo to access to the FM antenna. And you may still need an adapter for antenna for certain vehicles.

Please note that most SiriusXM satellite radios don’t include an FM Direct Adapter.

Conclusion

As you can see, physical connections (Aux in cable, Cassette adapter, FM Direct Adapter) provide better sound quality than FM transmitter (PowerConnect.) And, a cassette adapter and FM Direct Adapter are not usually included in SiriusXM satellite radio with Vehicle kit. Thus, it may be better to stick to Aux in cable for the easiest installation and the best sound quality.

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SiriusXM Satellite Radio for car comparison

Satellite Radio technology has been around for many years, and there are many satellite radios on the market. Here is a comparison of popular SiriusXM satellite radio for car.

SiriusXM SXPL1V1 Onyx Plus

Onyx Plus has a color display, which can show not only a title of song, album, artist name, but also album art or channel’s logo. Onyx Plus offers many features, such as TuneStart, TuneMix, and TuneScan. TuneStart is the feature that starts songs from the beginning when tuning to your favorite channels. TuneMix shuffle songs from the channels you select. TuneScan plays samples of songs of the first 10 seconds each from the channels you saved as the favorite. If you like it, you can press a button to continue playing the full song. Above all, what’s the most favorable and handy feature is that you can pause, rewind, and replay on your saved channels for up to 30 minutes.

image of siriusxm onyx plus

There are ten buttons to pre-set your favorite channels for one-touch access. It’s compatible with accessories like SiriusXM SXSD2 Portable Speaker Dock for home, office, and outdoor use.

Pros

  • Color display
  • 10 pre-set buttons
  • Pause, rewind, and replay a song
  • TuneStart
  • TuneMix
  • TuneScan
  • Compatible with a home kit and portable speaker dock

Cons

  • Relatively inexpensive

SiriusXM Commander Touch

Commander Touch has a full-color display with touchscreen feature. It can show an artist name, the title of the song, album title, and album art or channel’s logo. TuneStart automatically starts a song from the beginning when you tune into your favorite channels. You can listen to a mix of songs from your favorite channels with TuneMix. You can also pause, rewind, and replay up to 30 minutes from your favorite channels.

image of siriusxm commander touch

Commander Touch is different from the other radios in this post. One of the main characteristics of Commander Touch is that you can hide cables and wire as much as possible. Unlike the other radios, a tuner is separate from the display. By using FM Direct Adapter (included), you can hide everything but the display behind the dash.

There are two drawbacks because of this characteristic. First, the installation is not easy. You have to open the panel of your vehicle to pull out a car stereo to install the devices. And, you have to find electrical wires for power, accessory, ground, and illumination and splice them.

image of siriusxm commander touch wire installation

Second, it’s not portable or compatible with an accessory like SXSD2 Portable Speaker Dock. All devices, cables, and wires except for the display are designed to be placed behind the dash. So, it’s not intended or designed for portable use at all.

Commander Touch can be updated manually via micro USB cable when available.

Pros

  • Color display
  • Touchscreen
  • Pause, rewind, replay a song
  • TuneStart
  • TuneMix
  • Hide all devices, cables and wires except the display behind the dash
  • FM Direct Adapter included
  • Software update

Cons

  • Installation is not easy
  • Not compatible with home kit or portable speaker dock

SiriusXM SXEZR1V1 Onyx EZR

Onyx EZR has a large, easy-to-read, 3.2″ high-resolution display. It can show an artist name, the title of the song, the title of album or channel information at the same time. You can choose two display options: white text on a black background or black text on a white background. The split screen mode allows you to see what’s playing on other channels you saved as the favorites while listening to a current channel.

image of siriusxm onyx ezr

There are ten buttons to pre-set your favorite channels for one-touch access. It also has the feature of TuneMix to play songs in a unique mix from the music channels you have saved. It’s compatible with accessories like SiriusXM SXSD2 Portable Speaker Dock for home, office, and outdoor use.

Pros

  • Large display
  • Two display option
  • Split screen mode
  • 10 pre-set buttons
  • TuneMix
  • Compatible with a home kit and portable speaker dock

Cons

  • Not many features

SiriusXM- XEZ1V1 Onyx EZ

Onyx EZ has a blue back-lit display. It can show an artist name, the title of the song, and album or channel information at the same time. The relatively large display allows you to browse channels easily, and there are ten buttons to pre-set your favorite channels for one-touch access. It’s compatible with accessories like SiriusXM SXSD2 Portable Speaker Dock for home, office, and outdoor use.

image of siriusxm onyx ez

Pros

  • 10 pre-set buttons
  • Compatible with a home kit and portable speaker dock

Cons

  • No fancy features

SiriusXM Stratus 7

Stratus 7has a easy-to-read blue back-lit display. The 3-line display can show artist name, the title of the song, and album or channel information at the same time. There are no fancy features, but it’s one of the most inexpensive satellite radios for a car. It supports A La Carte subscription package, which allows you to select 50 channels with a reduced monthly subscription fee.

image of siriusxm stratus 7

It’s compatible with accessories like SiriusXM SXSD2 Portable Speaker Dock for home, office, and outdoor use.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Small
  • Supports A La Carte subscription package
  • Compatible with a home kit and portable speaker dock

Cons

  • No fancy features
ProductOnyx PlusCommander TouchOnyx EZROnyx EZStratus 7
Dimension (of head unit)4.5" x 2.4" x 0.7"4.1" x 1.69" x 0.48"5.0" x 2.7" x 0.72"4.5" x 2.4" x 0.7"4.5" x 1.9" x 0.7"
Weight (of head unit)3.4 oz3.88 oz3.9 oz3.4 oz2.3 oz
Color DisplayYYNNN
TouchscreenNYNNN
Pause, Rewind, ReplayYYNNN
Other Features10 pre-set buttons
TuneStart
TuneMix
TuneScan
TuneStart
TuneMix
Software Update
10 pre-set buttons
Split screen mode
TuneMix
10 pre-set buttonsSupports A La Carte package
Included Accessories (for audio connection)3.5mm AUX cable
PowerConnect(FM Transmitter)
3.5mm AUX cable
FM Direct Adapter
3.5mm AUX cable
PowerConnect(FM Transmitter)
3.5mm AUX cable
PowerConnect(FM Transmitter)
3.5mm AUX cable
PowerConnect(FM Transmitter)
Compatibility with home kit or speaker dockYNYYY
Price*$99.99*$129.99*$79.99*$69.99*$79.99*

*Regular Prices shown. Click the prices to see the latest prices.

A simply guide to Satellite Radio for your car

Satellite radio has been around for quite a while, but it’s not widely used or even understood. SiriusXM is the only company of satellite radio in the U.S. and offers a variety of subscription packages. For new customers, they offer a free trial for a few months, which you may want to take and evaluate. But first, let’s see the basis of satellite radio.

How does satellite radio work?

Satellite radio is a radio service that uses satellites orbiting the Earth to broadcast programs. A radio signal from broadcast station travels to satellites and then transmit to special antennas on your home, car, or portable device.

image of satellites moon and earth

The benefit of satellite radio

One of the benefits of satellite radio is the signal can cover a much larger area than the traditional radio. A few satellites can cover the entire continent continuously 24/7. So, you don’t have to switch the stations even when you drive a car from coast to coast.

Most stations are commercial-free. That’s because satellite radio is subscription based service. There are much more stations and wider variety of programs than traditional radio.

The sound quality of satellite radio varies from station to station. Some stations have near CD quality audio. Most stations have better sound quality than AM or FM radio stations.

Satellite radio company in the U.S.

There used to be two satellite radio companies in the U.S., Sirius and XM. In 2008, the two companies merged and became SiriusXM.

How to add satellite radio to your car

The automotive industry is one of the major target markets of satellite radio. Automakers likely install a car stereo equipping satellite radio tuner and antenna on their newer models. If so, all you need is subscription, and you don’t need any physical items.

image of siriusxm ready logo on head unit

Some aftermarket car stereo have the feature of SiriusXM-Ready. If you see the logo as in the picture above on your car stereo, you have the one. However, it’s important to know that you still need a kit (SiriusXM SXV300V1) which includes a tuner and antenna. To install it, you will have to pull out the aftermarket car stereo to connect the antenna to a port on the back. The tuner can be placed and hidden behind the car stereo. After installation, the only extra item you have on the dash is the antenna. Run the antenna cable neatly and hide it as much as possible. Of course, you also need a subscription.

image of siriusxm sxv300v1 connect vehicle tuner kit

If your car doesn’t have neither of the above, you can buy the whole satellite radio unit, which includes a tuner, antenna, receiver, and mounting kits. Unlike installing SiriusXM SXV300V1, you don’t have to open panel on the dash to access to the antenna port of aftermarket car stereo. You just place the receiver with mounting kit and connect the antenna and power cable. The receiver and car stereo are connected with 3.5mm audio cable so sound come out from car’s speakers. If there is no 3.5mm audio input on your car stereo, you have options to use a cassette adapter or FM transmitter (PowerConnect). You have to bear with many extra items on the dash. They are the receiver, antenna cable, power adapter, and audio cable (or cassette adapter.)

image of siriusxm sxpl1v1 onyx plus statellite radio with vehicle kit

There are some advantages of SiriusXM satellite radio units over SiriusXM-Ready aftermarket car stereo with SiriusXM SXV300V1. First, the total cost would be much cheaper. Second, the installation is easier. And, the last, the receiver is detachable, and you can use it anywhere with some gadgets such as a dock station.

Read Also: SiriusXM Satellite Radio for car comparison

SiriusXM SXSD2 is a portable speaker dock station compatible with most models of SiriusXM satellite radio. Using the same receiver means that you don’t need a second subscription. SiriusXM SXSD2 is powered by wall outlet or 8 D batteries, and it comes with a remote.

image of siriusxm sxsd2 portable speaker dock

If you want to use the existing speakers in your home, SiriusXM SXDH3 would be enough. The kit includes the antenna, AC adaper, audio cable and remote. siriusXM SXDH3 is also compatible with most models of SiriusXM receiver.

image of siriusxm sxdh3 satellite radio home dock kit

How much is the subscription?

There are three main packages of monthly subscription plan.

  • XM Mostly Music ($10.99)
  • XM Select ($15.99)
  • XM All Access ($20.99)

Please visit SiriusXM website for full details and list of channels.

And there are several specialty packages. Please note that some of them require the specific receiver. That’s because SiriusXM used to be two different companies. Even after the merger, their satellites remain the same orbiting the Earth. Some channels remain the same communication with the specific satellite of either company. If you stick to the main packages above, you don’t have to worry about anything. But, if you are interested in packages below, please make sure if your hardware is compatible with the package.

  • Sirius News, Sports & Talk
  • Sirius Family Friendly
  • SiriusXM All-in-One
  • Sirius A La Carte
  • SiriusXM for Business

Please visit SiriusXM website for full details and list of channels.

How to set up Philips Hue Entertainment and recommended indirect lights

There have been some third party apps that offered Philip Hue light sync feature with music, movies, and so on. But, none of them are reliable. Now, Philips added a new feature called Philips Hue Entertainment and released Hue Sync app for Windows PC and Mac. This app connects to Hue Bridget and performs the light sync feature with music, video, and game.

First, here are what you need

  • Any Hue White and Color Ambiance light (aka multi-color or color, any type including bulb, lamp, and light strip)
  • Hue Bridge (2nd generation, square-shape)
  • Philips Hue mobile app
  • Philips Hue Sync app for Windows or Mac (free to download)

Here are the steps how to set up Hue Entertainment feature

Step 1: Set up Entertainment areas

  • Open your Philips Hue mobile app and “Settings”
  • Tap “Entertainment areas” and “Create entertainment area”
  • Select lights by checking boxes on the right of each light (Here you see a list of all color lights in your Philips Hue system)
  • Tap “Continue” and “Lights are ready”
  • Drag the icons that represent the lights you chose and place them on actual location in your room.
  • Tap “Test area”, and all icons and lights start flashing altogether with changing colors. Make sure they match and tap “Perfect match!”
  • Now, the icons and lights start blinking one by one. Make sure their positions are correct and tap “All good!”

Step 2: Set up Philips Hue Sync app on your PC or Mac

  • Download and install Philips Hue Sync app from here
  • Launch the app and click “Search for Bridge”
  • Check the box to accept term and conditions and click “Connect”
  • After that, you need to press the center button of your Hue Bridge
  • Choose the entertainment area that you created in Philips Hue mobile app.
  • All set! Now, you see the home screen of Philip Hue Sync app.

How to use Hue Sync app

You see the four icon: “Scene”, “Game”, “Music”, and “Video”. Above them, there is a slider to adjust the brightness and a toggle switch. You can change the entertainment areas (if you created multiple areas) by clicking this box.

Only “Scene” is not meant for light sync feature. You can use this just like a mobile app, such as changing scenes shades, etc.

Other three, “Games”, “Music”, and “Video” sync Philips Hue lights with the monitor or sound. To start, click “Start light sync”. You can choose one from “Subtle”, “Moderate”, “High”, “Intense” to adjust the volume of effect. You may adjust the brightness as well.

“Games” and “Video” simply match the colors the monitor is displaying. It means that you don’t have to play a game or video to start light syncing. So, when you play a game or video, go to the full screen so Hue Sync app won’t pick up any colors outside the window of game or video.

“Music” sync with sounds. So, you may want to choose range of colors in “Color Palette.” If you don’t like any of pre-set ones, you can create your own by clicking “+”, choose up to five colors, and “Save”.

To stop, click “Stop light sync.” Please note that the lights stay in colors and brightness at the moment you click the stop button. You can turn off, turn up with the slider, or click “Scene” and bring back to the scene you normally use.

How to sync Philips Hue lights with your TV

There is no direct way to sync your TV with Philips Hue lights. However, just hooking up the computer monitor with your TV by using an HDMI cable does the same job.

Recommended Philips Hue products for Hue Entertainment

With light sync feature, some people want to set up like a nightclub. Music syncs the lights using vivid colors with the highest intensity. Some people watch movies with the mild light sync effect, so it doesn’t much distract you from watching movies. If you are the latter, regular A19 or BR30 bulbs are a little too distracting regardless of the setting. Instead of using regular bulbs, using indirect lights will give you a relaxing, serene, and cool effect. Here are some recommend Philips Hue lights for Hue Entertainment.

  • Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance LightStrip Plus ($80) – 80-inch Flexible light strip can be cut to perfect fit or extended up to 33 feet by addicting 40-inch extensions. With included adhesive tape, it fits to any environment.
  • Philips Hue Play Base Kit ($70)10-inch light bar is mainly designed as a backlight for TV. Included mounting brackets allow you to place it horizontally or vertically, or stick it on the back of your TV. A base kit includes a power supply and one light. Each power supply can connect up to three lights.
  • Philips Hue Go ($80)It’s the only wireless and portable light among Philips Hue lights. A built-in rechargeable battery allows you to take anywhere and lasts up to 3 hours. Of course, you can keep connecting to power outlet without worrying about running out of battery. It’s a unique and versatile Philips Hue lamp.
  • Philips Hue Bloom ($60) –It’s a small, 5-inch round lamp with a metal base and fixed angle. When it’s placed near an object or wall, it lights them up beautifully and gives an accent to your room.

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