Google makes another attempt at infiltrating the living room with the new Chomecast, a set-side dongle (as opposed to set-top box) that allows owners to stream content to their HDMI-equipped TVs.
Google's previous attempt at making the jump from PC and post-PC devices and onto users TV didn't really catch on, with the Google TV initiative being a failure for both Google and the manufacturers. It was too much to expect users to replace an entire TV.
Then came the $299 Q media streaming device. That one failed before it was even released.
Now Google is taking a more modest approach with the Chromecast dongle.
Does it have what it takes to catch on?
What's right with the Chromecast?
- The price. At $35 it's not going to break the bank.
- Small, powerful, and quite an impressive feat of engineering.
- It's simple to use. Everything from hooking to up to using it is about as simple and idiot-proof as it can be. If you want endless cat videos on your TV, this is the easiest way to get them.
- No extra remote control to clutter up the living room (or get lost).
- It's platform-agnostic, being able to work with iOS and Android devices.
- Tight integration with the Google Play store.
What's wrong with the Chromecast?
- It needs a power supply (either a dedicated one, or power from a non-service USB port on a TV). This means more cable kludge.
- Content offering limited.
- The Chromecast is competing against much more established devices, such as the Apple TV.
- Yet another closed ecosystem.
- It's a "jam tomorrow" device, ordering promise of bigger and better things to come.
The Chromecast is a cheap and cheerful streaming dongle, and if you want an easy way to get YouTube onto your TV – and you don't already have some sort of set-top box that can stream it for you – then for $35 you're hardly betting the farm.
But with that said, if you're buying this in hope of better things to come from it, I wouldn't bother. Google has a long track record of impressive, promise-filled launches that later amount to very little.