Recently Google introduced the Chromecast – a $35 HDMI dongle that sends online videos from your phone, tablet or Chrome browser to your HDTV. This 2 inch dongle connects to your HDTV via a HDMI port and is powered either by the port itself (if your TV supports it) or a micro-USB cable. After connecting it to your TV there is a fast and simple set up process in which you give the device a name e.g., “Living Room TV”. That’s it, as there is no user interfaces to learn as it is controlled by the device that sent the video i.e. your Android tablet or iPad.
You open the video you want to watch e.g., a YouTube video, and their will be a “Cast” button in the UI, select it and then select “Living Room TV”. The video is then sent to your TV.
Now, it should be noted that this idea is nothing new. It has already been done by Apple and Sony, with AirPlay and the PS3, respectively. However, what is new with Google’s approach, is the implementation.
- The device streams the video from the cloud. It does not stream the video from your personal device. This allow you to use your phone without interrupting the video on the TV.
- Cross device/OS support i.e., it runs on Android and iOS phones/tablets; Windows, Linux and Mac OS through the Chrome browser.
- The size and cost of the devices. With a price of $35, it is cheap by any measure. Considering the cost of its competitors, namely Apple TV and Roku.
- The ability to ‘cast’ a tab from the Chrome browser. This comes in handy, if a video service is not yet supported e.g., you could ‘cast’ the tab HBOGo is running in to your TV.
Now, with all the positives that this new device has going for it, there are 2 drawbacks i want to mention. Firstly, the support is limited to Netflix, Google Play Movies, TV, and Music services. Secondly, there is no support for media stored on local devices.
IMHO, these 2 negatives are minor because Google Cast SDK was released today so more supported services are coming soon and streaming local media to Chrome is possible.
There you go, Google is bringing change for the low, low price of $35 USD.
Read more about Chromecast
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