EZCast (M2) full review
From the near-identical hardware design to the Google-style logos splashed all over the packaging, the EZCast is plainly a Chromecast tribute act. But does this cut-price alternative (some might say rip-off) do the job just as well? (See all set-top boxes and on-demand TV reviews.)
The answer is a resounding "no". Firstly, there's the hardware design. While the HDMI dongle is all-but identical to the Google Chromecast, the supplied USB power cable comes with a separate Wi-Fi receiver attached to it. The makers clearly didn't have the engineering expertise to squeeze it into the HDMI casing as Google did. It's not a huge problem, but it's another ugly cable dangling from your TV.
Setup wasn't quite the plug-and-play experience we enjoyed with the Chromecast – it took the Android app a few attempts to detect the EZCast hardware – and the pidgin English in the supplied manual ("Avoid dropping or conflicting") meant that wasn't much help, either. See also: BT YouView+ box review (2014).
EZCast (M2) review: smartphone app
The supplied EZCast app for Android, iOS and Windows is pretty low rent and the whole package fails when it comes to delivering some of the basics.
Whilst streaming of 1080p video from our HTC One was almost flawless on the Chromecast, the EZCast suffered from horrible stuttering. The software advised us to press pause and let the footage buffer, but that provided only temporary relief. Photo streaming is fine, but the music-streaming facility is horribly designed, not even giving you the option to select albums for playback. (See also: Sky Now TV Box review.)
The phone screen can be mirrored on your TV screen with the EZCast, but that involves disconnecting and reconnecting to the device, unlike the seamless switchover you get with the Chromecast. Even then, the stream was much choppier than it was with Google's hardware. No apps provide EZCast support, so this is the only option if you want to beam YouTube videos or Netflix to your TV. See also: WD TV Live media player review (WDPUF0000NBK).
The PC software – for which you're forced to part with your email address to download – is little better. Sometimes the software plain refused to play videos, even though they were in the exact same format as others that played fine. There's the option to mirror your entire desktop, which Chromecast doesn't provide, and even use your TV as a secondary display, which would be more useful if you could change the screen resolution settings to match that of your television.
EZCast (M2): Specs
- 1920 x 1080p
- ARM Cortex A9 (single-core)
- HDMI 1.4
- MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVI, WMV, MKV, MOV, RM, RMVB
- MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG, AAC, FLAC, 3GP
- 73 x 29 x 12 mm