Is Google's Chromecast the Streaming Device for Every Home?

Google announced the release of a new streaming device, the Chromecast, less than 24 hours ago and it is already sold out on Amazon. The simple HDMI dongle connects to a TV and receives streaming video from both Android tablets and smartphones, as well as iPhones, iPads, and iPods, and both PC and Mac computers (but not Blackberry or Windows Phone). Initially, it will stream YouTube, Netflix, Google Play Music and Videos, and Chrome, but will be automatically updated as more apps are added.

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.

KikassAssassin's picture

I ordered one to play around with, because for $35, why not?

It should be pointed out, though, that the Netflix promotion has already ended because the demand for the Chromecast has been so high and they sold through them more quickly than they were expecting, so if you buy one now, you won't get the three free months of Netflix.

jnemesh's picture

I just got mine in the mail yesterday. I took it home, plugged it in, and had it set up in under 2 minutes (basically, you just use a computer to connect to it over wifi and set what wifi network and password the Chromecast will use, thats it!).

It worked FLAWLESSLY! I tried both streaming videos from the Chrome browser on my computer and with YouTube, Netflix, and Google Play Music All Access (they need a new name, that one is a mouthful!).

This is a KILLER device at a KILLER price, HIGHLY recommended!