Google takes another stab at the living room with Chromecast

Google takes another stab at the living room with Chromecast

Summary: Google catches up with a number of Android and Chrome announcements that didn't make the cut (or weren't ready) at I/O in June.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Following up the long-awaited debut of Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), Chrome took center stage at Google's big news event on Wednesday morning.

See also: Google teams with Asus on upgraded Android 4.3-based Nexus 7 | CNET's live blog: 'Breakfast with Sundar'

Walking in to the Dogpatch Studios in San Francisco on Wednesday morning, one of the only objects already propped up on the bare stage was an HDTV from Samsung.

It became evident that Google taking yet another approach at syncing up the living room, but the surprise announcement wasn't another Google TV or even the dead-on-arrival Nexus Q.

Enter the Chromecast.

Measuring in at just two inches in length, Chromecast runs a "simplified version" of Chrome OS. It plugs into any HDMI input port and "simply disappears behind your TV."

Essentially, the Chromecast links up other Google products in your home (Android and Chrome-based) such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

The Chromecast streams the content (i.e. YouTube, Netflix, Google Play social games, etc.) from the device source via the cloud. The device (i.e. smartphone) operates as the remote control.

For developers, there is the new Google Cast SDK, which should enable building upon existing apps and interactions between devices and the TV through the Chromecast devices.

The developer preview for Android, Chrome and iOS is rolling out today.

The obvious benefits here include the compact form factor and the easy upgrade in a simple package. That is to say that consumers just need a TV with HDMI connectivity, and this device should be good-to-go.

Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to upgrade the HDTV itself (at least for Internet connectivity and related apps), consumers could save themselves a lot of time, trouble and money with a dongle that just plugs in.

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Compared to the confusing Nexus Q and the expensive Google TV models that had limited functionality, the Chromecast peripheral is possibly Google's best attempt at satisfying home entertainment devices yet.

That is, at first glance.

There are a few features still in the infamous beta mode, meaning users can't expect things to work so seamlessly out of the box.

For example, one function rolling out in beta is the ability to launch any Chrome tab from a user's laptop to the television via Chromecast. Based on the live demo, it also appears that there is a bit of a time delay between the source and the TV's display of Chrome.

Regardless, the Chromecast is nothing to shake your head at when you consider the price.

The Chromecast will launch in the United States first for $35, which garnered an audible (but deserved) gasp from the media audience, a typically jaded bunch at these product announcements.

Google reps promised that Chromecast will be shipped out to other international markets as soon as possible.

Images: James Martin, CNET

Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Smartphones, Tablets

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26 comments
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  • Interconnectedness

    Interconnectedness is cool. I've got a WDTV box (similar to a Roku) and recently discovered that I can bring up a Youtube video on my phone with Google's native YouTube App, and then "broadcast" that video to my TV through the WTDV device. Pretty neat trick, and likely just a very small taste of the interconnected world that we're heading towards.
    dsf3g
  • Imitation is not innovation

    We already have YouTube and Netflix on TV and more. E.g. Xbox 360. Google is also copying SmartGlass.

    The headline hits the nail on the head: another attempt. Google TV was meant to have 50% market share this year, but achieved more like 0%.
    Tim Acheson
    • Looking like that...

      almost all things are copies:

      iPad - there were tablets before.
      Windows OS - there were UIs based on windows.
      Electric cars - they came from 2 centuries ago.
      ...
      The interesting part here is to make technology cheap and widely available.

      I'm still puzzled why TVs are so "dummy" yet. I want my TV to interact wireless with my phone, my pc, my tablet, ... I want it to become the big screen of my tablet or smartphone, ...
      AleMartin
      • You have the wrong devices then

        There are DLNA TVs and devices.

        Guess which company doesn't support DLNA and has instead come up with its own proprietary format, forcing you to spend $99 if you want to stream content to your TV?
        toddbottom3
        • Even the "right" devices are crap...

          I have a smart TV and the Netflix and Hulu Plus apps randomly hang mid stream and the DNLA support only works with mp4 and avi videos and doesn't support any other formats.
          EagleDelta1
        • How many people have TV sets with that?

          Are they more standard than android, or upgradable... wireless streaming?
          Price point?
          ...
          AleMartin
        • Could it be....

          Apple???
          Thomas Kolakowski
  • To sell adverts

    Another spying device, so that they can sell ads on your big TV screen.
    OwlllllllNet
    • May I suggest

      Don't buy one, or ever use one.
      Then quietly shut up
      Boothy_p
      • BAHAHAHA

        Wise people has a responsibility to educate the idiots like you...
        OwlllllllNet
        • By your own statement

          You should be listening, not typing.
          Little Old Man
    • and may I ask for your thoughts on

      the xbox one with the always-on kinect and "first class ads integration" is less of a "spying device".
      For $35 for such a device, google can 'spy' all they want. For $500 plus xbox live cost, MS you can take a hike.
      drwong
      • The fear is strong in you, DrWong

        Once again, bring in MS again, (with your usual FUD) because you needed to cover for Google in some way.

        I'd hate to live in the fear that you do.
        William Farrel
    • Advertising on TVs?

      Oh no, what will they think of next?

      Someone might just start selling Soap to fund mindless TV shows.....

      The audacity of them!
      DancesWithTrolls
  • Sookbox

    Looks like a limited version of Sookbox' Stream Runner (just launched on kickstarter).
    forchold
  • Wait one Minute

    OK I take it uses the cloud i.e. Google (data miner) server to stream from device to TV. If I want interconnecttivty I would have a device that stream from device to my TV over my LAN not going out to internet and back to my device.
    I see Googlechrome device as useless. now if you wan to use Chrome as a replacement for Roku TV or Apple TV I am interested
    Richardbz
  • Seriously?!

    "Essentially, the Chromecast links up other Google products in your home (Android and Chrome-based) such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops."

    Seriously you just forgot to mention it works with any device? Windows, android and even mac, iOS...
    Wall.iPhone4
    • It's all in the linkage

      The article does not say how the Chromecast link
      attila2
    • It's all in the linkage

      [Sorry about premature "Submit"]
      The article does not say how the Chromecast dongle links to one's device.
      If it is not by Bluetooth or Wifi, my guess is that someone else will make such a dongle.

      The idea of paying for double or triple bandwidth (downlink to phone, uplink from phone, downlink to dongle) and the congestion this will cause on the Internet must be a deterrent.
      attila2
  • It's not the devices, its' the concept itself

    how many people want to interact with their TV?
    William Farrel