Google’s Chromecast hit the market this past July, and the device is making big waves. Love it or hate it, Chromecast is making an impact solely because it’s the least expensive streaming media product on the market. The $35 dongle will give many all they need in a streaming device: Netflix, YouTube and the mirroring of any video in the Chrome browser.
Photo by EricaJoy via Flickr
What It Is
Chromecast is pretty straightforward. You plug the device into your television’s HDMI outlet, and then use your computer or mobile device to choose and play programming. All controls go through your device, meaning you control playback, fast forward and rewind through your phone or computer.
A Unique Device
Google’s Chromecast is not perfect. It is the least expensive option for adding streaming abilities to your HD television, and in some respects, you get what you pay for. Currently, the device only supports YouTube, Netflix, Google Play and the Chrome browser. It is designed for streaming services to easily add it to their lineup of preferred devices.
What probably makes the device most unique is its Chrome integration. Currently, all other television streaming devices only play what their programs allow. You choose a show on Netflix, and that is what you watch. With Chromecast, though, you can watch anything you play in your Chrome browser window.
This is an important distinction because the biggest criticisms currently leveled at Google’s Chromecast are its lack of apps for the multitude of streaming services out there. Apple TV and Roku are more expensive, but they also offer support for HBO Go and Hulu. With Chromecast’s browser viewing abilities though, this almost becomes irrelevant. You just pull up your HBO Go in your browser, and Chromecast will display it on your television.
A Traveler’s Tool
Chromecast is only a little larger than a standard thumb drive. This makes it the perfect addition for any traveler wanting to use a TV along with their other devices. If you are stuck in a hotel for business, you can plug in your Chromecast, and check out whatever service you happen to subscribe to, or anything else you find on the web.
Wired points out Chromecast is not intended to compete directly with things such as Apple TV. Apple TV and Roku are set top boxes, albeit small ones, dedicated to working like your cable box once did. Chromecast is a little different.
Even cable and satellite companies are now creating streaming services, all of which you should be able to use on Chromecast. DirecTV now has the DIRECTV2PC option. Using something like this with Chromecast would give you access to all your television anywhere with an Internet connection and an HDTV. Through www.direct-ticket.net, sports fanatics will never miss a football game on the go again.
Chromecast currently runs for a mere $35, cheaper than any other major competitor. Apple TV retails for $99, and Roku’s smallest option is $50, still more expensive than Chromecast.
Hard To Ignore
Chromecast’s price point makes it hard to ignore for anyone interested in streaming to an HDTV. It may not have all of the bells and whistles of Apple TV, but its size and browser integration will probably appeal to a wide audience. It may not replace standard streaming boxes, but it will certainly supplement their use.