The Google Chromecast is Google’s entry into the online streaming marketplace with a small USB stick like dongle that can easily plug into your HD T.V. For $35 this seems like a great bargain with the promise of portability from room to room or while visiting friends and family.
The Chromecast works with your PC or mobile device. Simply download the Chromecast app and then configure the network connection using your device. Once the setup process is completed, you are ready to start streaming. As of this writing the Chromecast only supports NetFlix, YouTube, Hulu, Google Play Music and Movies. We really do not use Google’s music and movie service, but it might be an option if you want to rent a movie and stream it using the Chromecast.
For $35 we found the Google Chromecast very affordable. Google includes a special flexible extension cable that can help with tight fitting HDMI inputs and also extends the wireless range of the device. The Chromecast must be plugged in to a power source using the provided cable. For our test of this new device we used a basic android phone and within a few minutes we had Netflix up and running streaming season 3 of Downton Abbey on our HD TV. It is important to note that the Chromecast does not stream the video from your android phone to the device, but uses your mobile device or computer to start the connection and then streams directly from your internet to the Chromecast.
It is easy using the Chromecast App on your phone or computer to easily pause or resume your show. We tested the resume feature by easily bringing the device to our small kitchen HD T.V. and continuing Downton Abbey exactly where we left off. Which shows the real power of this device – portability. It was alot of fun to be watching our favorite Netflix shows and YouTube videos while gathered around the kitchen table with our family on a Saturday morning. Something we would not have readily have done without this small little dongle.
But that is not all, this little device supports HDMI-CEC which can automatically turn on TVs that support the HDMI-CEC format and even change and adjust the HDMI setting for best use. The computer version of the Chromecast software supports streaming your desktop from your google Chrome browser to your HD TV which is a really nifty feature, although not something that we would use regularly in a home setting (maybe for an office meeting or presentation).
All in all there are so many things you can do with this little device, you would think that we would give it a 5 star rating. However, there are also some downsides to the Chromecast. First, as of this writing there are only a few limited apps that support video streaming. Now that might change as we hear companies are pledging their support such as Vimeo and HBO. Second, while we did enjoy problem free use of this device on our Kitchen HD TV, we ran into some problems using a different router and internet service in another part of our house. A few configuration error messages displayed concerning our wireless router’s compatibility, which were quickly solved, but we continued to experience lagging while using Hulu. Which brings us to a good point, this device was released as a beta product and while there have been software updates (and probably will continue to be software updates) it seems that Google has not perfected the device completely yet.
The Google Chromecast is a great product if you are looking to finally bring streaming TV to your unconnected Kitchen or Den. It is portable and easy enough to simply move to one part of the house to the next where ever you want to watch your shows, but the downside is that Google is still working on perfecting this product. Still, it can be alot of fun and take alot of frustrations out of bring streaming to those hard to reach parts of your house. We will give the Google Chromecast a sold 4 stars and once Google perfects this device definitely 5 stars.