Chromecast Opens the Music Box

The wildly popular Google Chromecast just got even better. It has added Pandora Radio and Hulu Plus to its list of supported content. And, the best may be yet to come.

Chromecast, as you know, is an HDMI dongle that plugs into your TV. It allows you to stream AV content from your smartphone or other digital device to your TV via WiFi. Everything is neatly run from a phone using a Android or iOS app, or from a computer running a Chrome browser.

When Chromecast went on sale in September, sales were stupendous. For 35 bucks, why not give it a shot? In fact, the device immediately sold out and was backordered for weeks, and within 24 hours of launch, Google ended a promotion that gave three months of free Netflix. At release, the system supported Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies and TV. Now, Pandora and Hulu are onboard. (Not all apps are supported by all the operating systems.)

Even more interesting, the Chromecast software developers kit is still a beta product. In fact, Google has told companies not to release their apps until the production version of the kit is available. (It’s my guess that Google was shocked by the wild success of Chromecast, and wasn’t prepared to fully launch it). When Google releases the production version of the kit, it is expected to open the floodgates to many more apps. In helping ensure this, Google has given Chromecast the “most favored developer” status.

What third-party apps are in the pipeline? Well, rumoured apps include AOL On, Bitcasa, Blip, Devour, Fandor, HBO Go, PlayCast for PlayOn, Pocket Casts, PostTV, Redbox Instant, Revision3, Simple TV, Songza, Split Browser, Tonido Home Cloud, Twitch TV, VEVO, Vimeo, Web2go, and Zattoo. Currently, Chromecast does not allow streaming of content stored locally on a mobile device, but some of these new apps may change that. Chromecast does support local content from a PC or external drive if the content is playable on Chrome.

Do you see what Google is doing here? The $35 Chromecast is the perfect Trojan Horse. It gets more people to use more of Google’s resources (from which it profits), it gets more copies of Chrome onto more computers (more profit), and it puts Google on your TV (yep, you guessed it).

Chromecast (along with AppleTV, Roku and TiVo) is the perfect marriage of computers and home theater. It puts the whammy on small-screen viewing and crummy-sounding sound docks. With Chromecast you get all the viewing advantages of your TV’s gigantic hi-res display, and the sonic excellence of your soundbar or home theater speakers. Phones and computers do what they do best: access and store content. And your home theater does what it does best: let you watch and listen to it. Win win.

HTM_cushman_23's picture

A few questions:

1) I thought that this was only allowed in a MHL HDMI port… is that no longer the case? Otherwise, how is it powered?

2) When you stream from the device (phone, tablet etc.) does that device dictate the resolution of the video?

3) Does the stream go from the server to the device and then from the device to the Chromecast, or does the stream skip the device and go directly to the Chromecast? (I am wondering if this is a double hit on the LAN?

4) Is there any reason you have to plug it into a TV, can you plug it into the AVR?

gunderson's picture

Chromecast launched on July 24th at the Google San Francisco event, alongside the 2013 Nexus 7. Like you said, it did sell out in 24 hours (on the 25th), and they dropped the free three month Netflix Subscription. I ordered one on the 25th and it took almost 4 weeks to arrive!

The Chromecast may work without external power in some televisions that have an MHL HDMI port. All others need just a standard HDMI port , and a USB port to power the Chromecast device(it has a micro USB port on the tip, and Google includes a cord in the box). I haven't found any MHL ports that actually power it on their own yet; it is not powered by any ports on my 2012 65VT50(doesn't have MHL), 2013 55W900, or Integra DTR-50.4, so not sure WHAT MHL HDMI ports they actually tested it with...

Server dictates resolution, through Chromecast bandwidth.

Portable devices only initiate the stream to the Chromecast, which receives the content directly.
BUT, when you stream an entire browser of any sort to the Chromecast from a computer running Chrome, then the Chromecast is receiving a direct stream over your local network, direct from the computer.

Yes, you can run the Chromecast via HDMI port on an AVR(but will still most likely need to provide secondary power via a Micro USB cord).
Hope that helps.

BadCommand's picture

While I have 3 of these dongles, in retrospect and as time is starting to prove, I'm no longer holding my breath on quality content coming to these devices. The reason being is content providers simply do not trust the openness of android as an OS, nor do they trust Google as a competitor. I'm also concerned that this like so many other Google projects will be just set adrift in a sea of beta mediocrity.
On the flip side if you are just looking for Netflix and Hulu, the device has shaved roughly $25 over the cost of the next real streamer (Roku).