Google Chromecast review - Great & Unusual Ways Of Use
What is so special about Google’s Chromecast?
There are already so many „Boxes" available on the market, that connect with your flat screen TV.
Why should you care about another one?
The competition such as Apple TV and Roku have each there own limitations. The Apple TV for example lets you pretty much just use content which you purchased from iTunes otherwise you need to convert your existing content into an iTunes compatible format and import it into iTunes.
The Roku on the other hand does not support that extremely handle little feature which Apple calls AirPlay. Which means neither you nor your friends can mirror any content from your smartphones. Which can be very helpful and fun at parties.
What these kind of boxes share, is their price tag of $99 and also roughly their size.
And this is where Google's Chromecast is different.
It comes in a very tiny package for just $35 and can do quite a lot as you will see when you continue reading.
Technical background and features
The Google Stick which is nothing more and nothing less then a tiny HDMI dongle with Wifi 802.11n weighing only 34 grams, came onto the market in July 2013.
It supports quite an array of operating systems such as:
- Android 2.3 and higher
- iOS 6 and higher
- Windows 7 and higher
- Mac OS 10.7 and higher
- Chrome OS
Furthermore it comes preloaded with some of the most popular apps for videos and movies such as:
- Hulu Plus
- Google Play Movies
Your musical needs are covered by:
- Google Play Music
- HBO GO (got added in November 2013)
And as a basic function you can stream everything from your Chrome Browser window (I get back to this in a moment).
This way you can enjoy movies, TV shows and music from a large list of sources.
Easy to use
Chromecast is extremely easy to use.
Even the installation process is simple.
You just need to:
- Plug it into a free HDMI port of your TV
- Connect to your Wifi
- Link your device, that is all there is to it.
From now on everybody within the same Wifi network can playback video and music from
- Android tablets and smartphones,
- iPhones and iPads,
- Chrome for Mac and Chrome for Windows.
3rd party apps are coming
In December 2013 the incredible developers of the free Plex App announced their compatibility with Chromecast. They wrote they were so impressed by Chromecast that they bought one for each developer and started right away.
This is a big milestone by itself within just the first 6 month after the launch.
And it doesn’t stop here.
In February 2014 Google opened Chromecast with an SDK.
That means soon we will be flooded with apps for all kind of video and music services!
4 unusual use cases
Google's Chromecast is an instant success. On Amazon you will find over 12,500 customer reviews with an average of 4 stars. This is truly a great device with a small price tag.
In the next few paragraphs I will nevertheless describe some unusual use cases, which makes clear why the Chromecast is different from its competitors and why it makes sense to own one even when you have already any of the other devices.
Use Case 1: Searching for content
Basic functions like controlling playback and adjusting volume from above mentioned devices and apps are obviously supported. It get’s much more interesting, when you want to search for a specific videoclip on YouTube for example. Instead of clicking letters for minutes with a dreadful arrow key based remote control, you can easily and quickly enter the search terms on the standard QWERTY keyboard on your smartphone or laptop. It may not sound like much at first, but if you ever have tried to „type“ in a word one character at a time on a „left-right-up-down“ remote you will appreciate this much more calming method a lot. As a matter of fact, this method is so much easier, that you end up watching more of that funny video on YouTube then you ever have on any other device. Especially at parties the big TV screen is much more appealing to look at then a tiny screen someone holds in his hands.
Use Case 2: Garden and house parties
All the other devices share one feature: an infrared-based remote control, which requires a line of sight in order to work.
If you use a Chromecast, things are different. Since its controlling is based on Wifi, you can change the music in the living room while you are preparing drinks in the kitchen. Or even better, imagine having a garden party in summer, sitting on your patio and having music played through the open windows from your living room. Without getting up and having to return to the living room, you can change volume or a track by a tap on your smartphone just from where you are. Since you can plug a Chromecast also into any modern AV-Receiver with an HDMI port, you even do not need a Flatscreen TV to run, if it is just music you want.
Use Case 3: Traveling
Do you travel for business or pleasure? If so then you know that renting a movie in your hotel room isn’t cheap and you can hardly put it on expenses, can you? And who knows if they have something interesting anyway. If only you could watch something from one of the video services you are sign up to already - like Netflix or Hulu - or something you have on your Plex Server at home. Wait a moment… Remember that the Chromecast has roughly the size of a thumb drive and weighs only 35grams? Next time you travel, just throw the Chromecast in your suitcase and plug it in the hotel TV. Many hotels offer Wifi for free and so you can choose a movie just like at home. The same goes for music of course.
Use Case 4: At work
This one is maybe the most unexpected use case of all. More and more meeting rooms are equipped with a flat screen TV and many modern Beamers have an HDMI port as well. Wifi is standard in most companies for years now. Take a Chromecast to your next meeting plug it in the TV or Beamer and everybody in the room can share whatever they can display in the Chrome Browser. That can be just a webpage, but you can stream also any web application or even PDF documents.
What makes the Chromecast unique is its tiny size, light weight, small price and very versatile usage.
There are hardly any reasons why you shouldn’t go and try a Chromecast out right now.
Let me know in the comments, what your experience with Chromecast is.
What is your favourite TV box
Short Demo of Plex via Chromecast
© 2014 TheAndy