Streaming of media at home is not a new phenomenon. However, the increase in the number of internet based services such as iPlayer and Netflix means that media playing at home has grown to become a more popular way of watching TV.
Chromecast is yet another affordable way of streaming media. It is a streaming adapter with the capability of turning an HDMI enabled television set into a smart TV that is app-driven when it is paired with a tablet, computer or smartphone.
The Chromecast is simply an HDMI stick that can be plugged into the HDTV set and works in the same way as the Roku Streaming Stick. It easily plugs into the HDMI port in your HDTV and comes with a USB cable that connects to the microUSB port on the stick’s other end for power. This stick comes with one button at the rear end that is used for setup, and it also comes with a single LED light for on/off indication. All other features are on-screen and controlled by an application.
Surprisingly, Google was thoughtful enough when making accessories for this HDMI stick. The Chromecast would have worked with simply the microUSB -to-USB plugins to the TV, but it also comes with USB power adopter, in case you do not have spare ports. Google also included HDMI extender which can be helpful in case the Chromecast stick is thicker than the space availed in other HDMI devices and in cases where the HDTV ports are tightly clustered.
Supported Apps and Setup
The Chromecast setup process is quite simple and mostly app controlled. You simply have to load the application on the computer or mobile device. It will automatically detect Wi-Fi connectivity available and Chromecast sticks that are in ‘setup mode’. Simply tap the Chromecast stick available in setup mode and avail the Wi-Fi network password. The Chromecast stick will connect automatically to the Wi-Fi network. It will indicate that it is connected, and detect the strength of the connection and the Chromecast assigned name.
Every service and app requires a built-in Chromecast support. This places a limit on the content choices. However, Google has opened up the Chromecast SDK, which encourages app developers to create Chromecast friendly applications. Once Chromecast is fully setup and a friendly app is running, streaming media to Chromecast becomes easy. Simply load media, tap the icon and choose Chromecast to stream.
The Chromecast device performance is fair even though it is limited to Wi-Fi connectivity and is at times sluggish. However, streaming YouTube music videos gives satisfactory results and so is watching movies. Chromecast can comfortably output 1080p videos, but is heavily reliant on the strength of the internet connection and the bandwidth.
Can It Compete With Roku And Apple TV?
Chromecast is smaller and much cheaper than Roku or Apple TV, and thus loses out on most counts. You are likely to get more content on Roku 3 and Apple TV than you are on Chromecast. Also, Chromecast is not as flexible as its competitors. However, it is cheaper as competitors cost almost three times more. So, this is not exactly a fair comparison. Therefore, it is worth saying that Chromecast is an ideal gadget if you are simply looking for a simple HDMI streaming adapter at a very reasonable cost.
You can get Chromecast for approx. $35 which makes it worth every dime.