What is Google Chromecast?

by on August 20, 2013 · 4 comments

Chromecast1

A few days ago I was on the Google campus in Mountain View and got a demo of Google’s new Chromecast.

They released it just recently, and it sold out almost right away. I missed the window to order one, but luckily got to take one home with me from Google.

Since it’s a pretty cool little device, I thought I’d write up my experiences with it.

What does it do?

Chromecast allows you to send videos you are watching on your Android or iOS device, or PC or Mac, to your big screen living room TV.

For example, let’s say you are watching a really funny YouTube video (like my favorite, the Ultimate Dog Tease) and want to show the rest of your family. You can just turn on your TV, and then “send” the video to your TV to watch in in 1080p HD.

You can also do this with Netflix, Google Play, and many other providers are creating Chromecast apps as we speak.

How does it work?

Chromecast is a small device that looks like a USB stick, but it plugs into one of the HDMI ports on your TV.

Once you plug it in and switch to that Input on your TV, Chromecast guides you through an easy setup process, which puts it on your WiFi network.

Chromecast2

How is it different?

I also have an Apple TV, and one of my very favorite features is Airplay. Airplay lets me send things from my iPhone, iPad or Macbook to the TV screen.

Chromecast takes a slightly different approach. It doesn’t stream from your PC or mobile device to the TV, rather it tells the Chromecast device, which is plugged into an HDMI port on your television, to get the video from the Internet and display it directly on your TV to watch.

You can still control the video playback from your mobile device or PC, instead of using a clunky controller.

One cool feature in the YouTube app is the ability to send more videos to the TV while one is already playing. You can have several people in the room sending videos to the TV, creating a “playlist” on the fly. When one video is done it will automatically play the next one in the queue.

Send to Chromecast

Send to Chromecast

Which devices does it work with?

Chromecast works with almost any device – Android phones and tablets, iPhones, iPads, and PCs and Macs. And priced at $35 Google is clearly going for ubiquity here. It’s a very interesting approach, and one that I think will get a lot of traction for them. Simple and elegant.

Should I get one?

Well, it depends on how you use your TV, but I certainly like having one around. If you want an easy way to watch Youtube, Netflix and other videos on your TV then this is probably the most cost effective way to do it.

Where can I get one?

They are on a 2-3 week backorder right now, but you can order one on Amazon, Best Buy or the Google Play store. Check out the Google website for more details and demos: Google Chromecast.

And if you get one, let me know what you think!

p.s. As I was playing around with Chromecast, I thought of the announcement YouTube made earlier this year – changes to the Channel Art formats on YouTube channels. They gave the specs for your channel art so that it could look good on desktops, mobile devices, and TVs. They seem to be preparing YouTube to be like a TV network. Chromecast makes it easier to get YouTube on you TV.

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, the SmallBiz WordPress Theme and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 281 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

lisap August 21, 2013 at 5:49 am

Don, Thanks for the simple description. Now for my question. My husband likes to watch these “couch tours” of some of his favorite bands. Currently, he goes online and buys a “ticket” to all three nights of a band’s run (let’s say Phish at Madison Square Garden) and then he tunes in at the time of the show and watches it on his PC monitor or we hook a laptop to the big TV and stream the show. Would Chrome cast work for that? I ask because as simple as it sounds and as many cords, TVs, gadgets (two older laptops – one with sound that doesn’t work, one with no HDMI hook up and a useless netbook) and two ipads (one wi-fi only and the other with wi-fi and 3g) as we have we still have problems. is it possible Chromecast is the answer?

Reply

Don Campbell August 21, 2013 at 6:32 am

Hi Lisa – good question!

It depends on the player where he is watching the band. The website that is playing the video would need to add some Javascript to their page that allows you to “send” the video to Chromecast. So this is something that will need to happen over time as Chromecast gets adopted more.

There is another option with Chromecast; if you are using the Google Chrome browser on your PC/Mac, then you can cast the browser tab to your TV. This may not give you HD content, but allows you to send almost any web page to your TV. So that might work for watching the concert as well.

Reply

lisap August 21, 2013 at 7:08 am

Thanks, Don. I will look into this more. I plan to order a ChromeCast. Even if it doesn’t work right now for my hubby’s couch tours, it’ll work for other things we watch on the Net. Appreciate the helpful and prompt response.

Reply

George September 10, 2013 at 12:15 am

Oh man. Being a real gadget freak I really want one of these. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Malcolm

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