Is streaming high quality, low latency gameplay over the internet now actually a viable alternative to owning a home console? Google believes so, leveraging its datacentre network and its vast influence over internet infrastructure to set up Stadia – a gaming system with next-gen level processing specs, ultimately available to stream on smartphones, tablets, TVs and computers. There’s the potential here to radically change the nature of the games we play, and the speed with which we can access them. But fundamentally, Stadia needs to overcome profound technological challenges to replace the local experience – and today, for the first time, we get to see Google’s 4K HDR dream play out in our homes.
Our focus for this piece is the Stadia bundle pack priced at £119/$129/€129, which ships an innovative new Google-designed controller plus a Chromecast Ultra for connecting to your TV in combination with a three-month subscription to Stadia Pro, opening the door to a limited selection of free games along with top-end 4K HDR streaming . Set-up for the living room in optimal conditions is a little convoluted, requiring the use of two apps.
First of all, Chromecast Ultra is attached to the HDMI port of your TV, then plugged into the mains. The power supply also features a LAN port and while not essential, I do recommend using that to attach the device directly to your router. Google’s Home app is used for a relatively painless set-up, then you’re directed to the Stadia app for set-up of the controller – principally, to hook it up to your WiFi network. After that, Chromecast and controller are linked and one press of the Stadia home button later, you’re in.
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