Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Google Chromecast Review

Google is now trying a second shot to capture your attention on the largest screen in your house – your television.

With Chromecast, you can easily enjoy your favorite online entertainment on your HDTV—movies, TV shows, music, and more from Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and Chrome. No more huddling around small screens and tiny speakers. Chromecast automatically updates to work with a growing number of apps.

Chromecast is a $35 dongle that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and it can display contents from certain apps like YouTube, Netflix, Google Play content and Chrome browser tabs.

Chromecast does not necessary “stream” data from your phone or computer. It works much like it’s own router and connects directly to your wireless network to fetch the content of the cloud. If you cast a YouTube video, it does not stream the video off your phone (thus conserving battery life) It instead grabs the link and buffers the video directly on the dongle.

Chromecast is very easy to setup. Just plug it in and download the setup application either from your PC or your Android mobile phone. If you’re in the Philippines, you might not be able to download it directly from the Play store due to some regional limitation so just search for the .apk online and install it manually.

Chromecast comes with the actual dongle, an HDMI extender in case the stick can’t fit in the HDMI slot, a USB cable for charging and AC adapter. Most TV’s already have built-in USB port so you can just use it to power Chromecast. Unfortunately HDMI ports don’t supply power unlike, say, MHL.

This is how it looks like on our Sony Bravia TV. It plugs perfectly with just enough space and the USB cable is plugged on the available port on top.

After setting up Chromecast to detect our wireless network, everything was already set up and ready to go. You’ll be ask to name your Chromecast and then download apps that support Chromecast which is right now just limited to Netflix and YouTube.

Chromecast has yet to allow streaming of content stored on phones and your local computer, and this is a big bummer to me. However, the ability to stream YouTube videos and virtually any Chrome browser tabs onto the TV easily for just $35 is a big advantage compared to the built-in YouTube player of the Sony Bravia or the lame Xbox YouTube app which require Gold subscription.

I have only tested YouTube on an Android device and it allows me to adjust the volume directly on my phone, scrub the video timeline and queue playlists, which is great for marathon YouTube viewing.

Google has done something nice with Chromecast.  It’s cheap, easy to set up and it works. As soon as more developers enable Chrome-casting their apps to the TV, it will only get better.

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