In this video, I check out the Ottocast Play2Video dongle. An all-in-One Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, YouTube, Netflix, and Video Casting Adapter.
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This wired CarPlay adapter features both wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, and it also allows you to playback YouTube and Netflix content, as well as cast video from your mobile phone onto your CarPlay display.
In the box you get a paper instruction manual, there is the Play2Video adapter itself, and there is a USB-A to USB-C power cable and a USB-C to C power cable for more modern vehicle CarPlay ports too.
Features & Design
Looking over the adapter, its form factor is the same shame and size as Ottocast’s U2-X and U2-X Pro adapters. There is a carbon fibre texture pattern on the top. Two sides of the adapter feature some ventilation holes for passive cooling of the inside chipset. On one end of the dongle, there is a USB-C input port to power the dongle, and on the other side, there is a status indicator light and a USB-A port for USB media playback and firmware updates. You can also use this port to trickle charge your phone, but it won’t pass through wired CarPlay or Android Auto.
Boot-Up & Menu Interface
I plugged this adapter into a number of CarPlay systems including both of my Pioneer 93DAB, Alpine aftermarket CarPlay systems and also the Carpuride and Coral Vision standalone CarPlay displays and they all ran fine, with the adapter restarting to transmit the optimal resolution for the display it is being plugged into.
Firing up the dongle for the first time gets you into its main menu in around 22.91 seconds. The main landing screen has a modern panel menu interface built on a closed custom Android 8 operating system. There are four panels in the top section of the screen. The left two are reserved for launching both Netflix and YouTube apps, and to the right of these are two panels. The first is a Bluetooth and USB media playback control panel, and the second is a panel of quick icons to launch Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Screen Cast and TV projection.
Along the bottom is a row of additional function buttons, including Bluetooth calling, listening to Bluetooth audio, browsing local and USB files, video and audio USB playback, Settings and return to the car system menu.
Selecting the Settings icon will show a custom settings menu to connect to a local Wi-Fi network or a Wi-Fi hotspot from your phone to browse and playback YouTube or Netflix online content. You can also change the main menu background and connect to or manage a Google account for accessing personalised YouTube content and updating either of the two apps.
Along the top of the menu screen, there is a status bar that can also be pulled down over any running app to go back to the home screen menu, navigate back within the running Android app, and also to view current running apps to either close them individually or close all apps to clear system memory and free up resources.
Getting Online & Apps
Whilst in the Settings area I connected the adapter to a local Wi-Fi hotspot and connecting to a personal mobile hotspot on my iPhone also worked fine too. With the adapter online, I could jump into either of the two major video streaming apps.
Both Netflix and YouTube apps ran surprisingly well on the adapter’s rather low-end 8-core CPU running at 1.5 GHz. Its low CPU/GPU does show itself when scrolling through the menus, but once you’ve selected and loaded your chosen video this adapter plays it back relatively well and with audio in sync.
Being a closed Android system, there is no way to launch and browse the Google Play store for newly installed apps and if you do manage to download any alternative apps, none would appear on the menu screen. Any of the core apps are also hidden from view, whilst YouTube, Netflix and a file browser app are only available from the main menu.
Wireless CarPlay & Android Auto
Connecting to either wireless CarPlay or Android Auto requires you to disconnect from the adapter’s Wi-Fi connection and connect to its own hotspot. Luckily the Play2Video handles this relatively smoothly by prompting you to enable each required connection when jumping between video streaming apps and wireless CarPlay or Android Auto.
Both of these platforms use the Zlink5 app, which has been split into each functionality on the main menu screen. Pressing either CarPlay, Android Auto or Mirroring icons will launch the Zlink5 app and display the function you’ve selected. The common Zlink5 settings options have been neutered with just options to toggle the driver position and background connection.
Pairing my iPhone 13 Pro to the adapter’s Bluetooth and launching CarPlay took 15.13 seconds. Touch input and feedback were fairly responsive, which is surprising when this adapter doesn’t have the fastest Wi-Fi specs. The common 1-2 second audio lag over Wi-Fi is still present here, but overall, wireless CarPlay behaved just fine on both my CarPlay displays and my Pioneer 93DAB system. The default microphone quality sounded like it had a higher gain added to the microphone input. Calling from the adapter via CarPlay worked out fine too, with call audio coming out of the car speakers.
Connecting to wireless Android Auto on this adapter took 10.63 seconds. Like CarPlay everything ran as expected. Android Auto was also responsive considering its Wi-Fi specs. I tried calling from the adapter via Android Auto and unfortunately, the call audio didn’t come out of my car speakers and the microphone was coming from the device microphone instead of the car system microphone.
Casting Video to CarPlay Display
Mirroring and TV Cast are two other features of this adapter. I couldn’t get TV Cast to work on either device, but I was more successful mirroring my iPhone and Android to my CarPlay display, via this adapter. Mirroring from my iPhone was easier, whilst the Android required downloading the Zlink Plus app, which did work but I encounter lots of lag and poor performance. Whilst on iPhone it was easier to set up and get the video playing with some slight sync issues in its audio at times.
This Play2Video All-in-one Adapter from Ottocast retails for $179.99, €179.99 and £152.99 directly from their store, and you can get a further 30% off using the coupon code OTOCAR30. Altneritvely you can purchase this adapter from Amazon with a few sales in the US and UK at the moment that will allow you to get the adapter for $40 / £40 off the retail price, making the adapter just $139 in the US!
The Play2Video adapter ticks many boxes in what most people want from a CarPlay adapter. It offers both wireless CarPlay and Android Auto and it offers the ability to watch videos from YouTube and Netflix or from a connected USB drive.
If this is all the functionality you seek, then the Play2Video achieves this reasonably well, and all at a price that comes in much lower than most fully fledged AI Boxes that offer more functionality with their ability to download and run or sideload most Android apps.
With an operating system from 2017, I do worry about how long the two video streaming apps will be supported. The Netflix app supports devices running from Android 7, so with the Play2Video built on Android 8, the Netflix Android app may stop getting updates and connecting to their streaming services might end soon after. The YouTube app currently still supports Android 4.4, so this app has a much longer lifespan on this adapter.
If you want just Android Auto on your CarPlay display, a more basic 2-in-1 adapter might be all you need here, and if you really want to explore and download apps from the Google Play Store and run other alternative video streaming apps on your CarPlay display, then a more costly and open AI Box will be a better option.
This is my second adapter to feature a closed Android platform, and technically they both are very similar in spec. One uses an SD card for media instead of a USB on the Play2Video. I would have preferred it to have better Wi-Fi hardware, however, both wireless CarPlay and Android Auto were decent, and casting at least from my iPhone was acceptable also. Perhaps more processing power would have made the whole experience smoother, but once you have loaded your content, the Play2Video handles the content well enough on the CarPlay display.
If you’re looking to save a little money on an AI Box and just need YouTube, Netflix or Casting from your iPhone, this might be an adapter for you.
0:00 – Brief overview
0:22 – Unboxing
0:34 – Features & design
1:10 – Boot up & menu interface
3:04 – Video streaming test
3:46 – Apps & factory settings
4:05 – Wireless CarPlay & Android Auto
6:00 – Video casting/mirroring
6:30 – My Impressions
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