When Google announced the Chromecast it was a smashing publicity success. In less than an hour it was front page news on all large tech sites, and every second G+ page was theorising about the possibilities. All this for a small $35 HDMI dongle not much bigger than a first generation thumb drive. The person who coined the term “big things come in small packages” could have been talking about the Chromecast. As small as it is, it has the power to transform a standard TV into a super online content streaming hub, provide you have WIFI and a spare HDMI port.
It appears that Google had two main goals in mind when creating the Chromecast, bring the internet to the most used screen in the average home in a way that makes sense, and do it so damn easily that anybody can use it. I’m happy to say that after using it for almost a month now, it excels at both these goals. Setup is a snap, plug in the HDMI cable and the USB power cord, open the web address as per the instructions (or use the Android app), and after a few simple steps your Chromecast is ready to go.
Controlling Chromecast is where the of the device simplicity really comes into it’s own. Google have basically removed the most annoying part of the TV, the remote control. Choosing instead to make use of that beautiful 4+ inch screen in your pocket as the control hub. Want to watch youTube? Simply open the youTube app on your phone, press the Chromecast button and start the video you want to watch. Once Chromecast starts to play your video of choice you can close the youTube app and resume your normal mobile activities while the Video streams directly from the internet. And if you don’t have your phone with you that’s fine too as Chromecast control is as simple as installing the Chromecast browser extension (only available on Google Chrome) on your PC or Laptop. The browser extension also gives the user the ability to mirror a browser tab or the desktop so it’s great for presentations as well.
Currently as of writing, Chromecast only support direct streaming from Netflix, Google Music, Google Movies, and youTube. There are a lot of other online media companies ready and willing to come on board, however Google hasn’t yet finalised it’s SDK and is not accepting any more applications until that’s been completed. So more content is coming, it’s just a waiting game. Fortunately for me, most of my online media comes from either Netflix, youTube, and Google Play Music.
It’s important to note that Chromecast is not offically available outside of the US, it can however be purchased from Ebay for a sharp increase over retail price.
Until the new Nexus phone comes out I think the Chromecast is my favourite tech product of 2013, no other technology product has come close to the seamless integration into my everyday life that the Chromecast has been able to accomplished.