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.
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.
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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