Is Google's Chromecast the Streaming Device for Every Home?
Setup looks simple. Plug it into an HDMI input, use your mobile device or computer to connect it to your home WiFi, and you are done. The fine print notes that a power plug may be required. If your TV is a few years old and cannot supply power through its HDMI port, the device will need to be plugged in to an outlet or possibly to a USB port on the TV (Google isn't showing the power connection yet).
It works similarly to Apple AirPlay. When content is playing on your smartphone or tablet, pressing the Chromecast icon will send the movie, TV show, music, or photos to the Chromecast device and play it on your TV. An extension or plug-in will be available for the Chrome Web browser to also send media from pages you are viewing on your computer to your TV. Playback is controlled via your smart device or computer so, in effect, your TV becomes a dumb monitor. The idea sounds similar to another recently released device, the PLAiR, that streams videos from any Website. However, Google has an advantage since it can stream its own video apps—Google Play and YouTube—as well as Netflix.
Some analysts are saying Chromecast will kill Google TV. I sure hope not. If your goal is to stream videos to the TV, Chromecast will do the trick. However, Google TV has its benefits by making it possible to search streaming video offerings and content from your TV provider. Google TV's Primetime TV and Movie app also makes it easy to see which movies have just begun by displaying a status bar along with movies currently airing on TV. I haven't used my DISH receiver's onscreen guide in months.
No doubt, the device sold out so quickly because Google is offering a free Netflix membership for three months (for new and existing members). Unlike last year's failed launch of the $300 Google Nexus Q, the Chromecast is available for $35 (factor in the Netflix promotion and the net price drops to a mere $11). For homes that have don't yet have a connected TV or streaming device, the affordable Chromecast just might be the ticket.