What's right (and wrong) with the Google Chromecast

What's right (and wrong) with the Google Chromecast

Summary: Google makes another attempt at infiltrating the living room with the Chromecast dongle. But is this something that you want to bother getting to hook up to your TV?

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TOPICS: Hardware, Google
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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.

(Source: Google)

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.

Verdict

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. 

Topics: Hardware, Google

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39 comments
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  • Really

    Please expand on this long track record.

    As for Chromecast, it is basically Apple TV. The device can stream from Chrome and that means that Chrome OS can redirect its screen in a similar fashion to Airplay. The big advantage this has over Apple TV is the fact that you don't have to wait for an update to the firmware to add functionality as there are apps coming for the device.
    slickjim
    • Try reading the article

      The awful Google TV and never really launched Q are both great examples.
      x I'm tc
    • Re: As for Chromecast, it is basically Apple TV.

      No, it is not.

      There are many differences, most notably:
      - Apple TV is a standalone device, Chromecast is not.
      - Apple TV offers AirPlay for both streaming content to the device and mirroring your display. Chromecast does not do any of this. With local streaming and display mirroring, the Apple TV does not need any local applications, now or in the future, because the application actually resides on the remote device.
      - The Apple TV can be operated with its own, or an universal remote (I use Logitech Harmony for mine). The Chromecast cannot be operated by any TV remote -- you need an compatible "smart" device.

      The Chromecast certainly has it's applications, but those are generally different than those of the Apple TV -- and given that it's unlikely it will ever stream iTunes media, or use AirPlay, it cannot replace an Apple TV.

      On the other hand, it is trivial to add the Chromecast functionality to the Apple TV (which in fact runs iOS).

      However, for the price, it makes nice toy to play with, which might hopefully evolve in more flexible device in the future. It is at disposable price anyway.
      danbi
      • I love not having to use iTunes at all

        The chromecast doesn't introduce another remote. Since I can use my Android smartphone as the controller for this, and it's a better controller than any remote using the nice app they made, (think running the Search for your next song on your phone, while the TV is still playing what you're watching now.) It makes Youtube really relevant again.

        I actually enjoy having a "smarter remote." Right now, because I don't have the lockdown mentality of the Apple, I can access my complete music archive, without a clunky client like iTunes, watch any video I choose, rip content as I choose, etc.
        NinjaCville
    • I agree, this is so much better than apple tv in every way

      apple tv is a bad solution in search of a non existent problem.

      Chromecast is better in every single way.

      Of course, those of us who want the best spend the money to get the best: Xbox.
      toddbottom3
      • Using Chromecast, can you ...

        ... do basic remote functions (ie. rewind, play, pause, fast forward) without taking your eyes off the screen?
        tac_boy
        • Sure you can!

          You don't really need a remote, since you aren't changing channels as you would with a TV. Instead you stream content to your TV the way you would with an Android or IOS phone--by attaching it with some sort of video cable.
          The folks on his thread don't appear to understand exactly what the Chromecast actually is. Similar devices have been produced for well over a year prior to the Chromecast, under various names and descriptions. I have one of the newer versions of those, called an MK808b by its maker (Google it).
          So what IS it, you say? It is essentially an Android cell phone without the cellular radio or touchscreen.
          That being said, there are software solutions (cheap or free) that will allow an Android phone to be used as a remote mouse; or you can simply use a wireless PC/Mac mouse (with USB radio-dongle) to work as the remote. In this scenario you are moving and clicking a mouse on the screen, and you'd be launching and using Netflix or YouTube much as you would with a PC or Mac.
          edwd
        • Yes, it's totally powerful that way

          You can use your mobile phone to control the youtube content. think of it as making your HDTV an extra monitor, via your home wireless network. The source of the video can be your PC or your Android smartphone, as well as the controller, and you can switch mid-session. You can also queue up the next thing to watch, as well as use your phone, without disturbing the video you're already watching. Nothing bad to say, and was extra-impressed when I realized that while using my mobile to cast, I was able to change the volume on the TV from my mobile's volume button.
          NinjaCville
      • Sort of Agree

        tb3, sort of agree with your Xbox analogy, BUT for the ATROCIOUS support (read:lack of) for container and video codecs.

        If ONLY Microsoft would realize that allowing the xBox to play pretty much ALL codecs instead of just MP4 with stereo or their insistence on WMV which nobody but Microsoft actually uses. I won't talk about AVI - that's pretty much dead now in my household. The XBox is more than capable of MKV with AC3 or DTS soundtracks, yet not implemented.

        Having those will secure it as a permanent pride of place at EVERY TV I have. Right now - nope. Games only and the odd video I can actually play. Not good enough to make me buy again.
        Ramrunner-5dd3e
    • Not AppleTV at all

      It's not Apple TV at all. The first few sample apps make it appear to be but the DIAL protocol is the real product and can do much more. AppleTV is proprietary, the DIAL product can be used for free in SmartTV's, Roku and do much more complex device/TV interaction. See examples I posted in other post.
      moonbeamkc
  • What's right (and wrong) with the Google Chromecast

    Its wrong. Like everything Google does, they stole the idea from rabbit tv. Look at what a scam that was. I see chromecast as being no different.
    Loverock-Davidson
  • Power Issue

    You raise the power issue. If you have a new TV set, it should have HDMI 1.4 which is a spec of HDMI that includes power, so no USB necessary. It's nice Google included the option to power from USB, (which isn't too hard since most TV's also have a USB port), for all those with older sets.
    NedVargar
    • I'm not sure

      But I suppose power on HDMI is very limited, I doubt anything with reasonable processing power could run on just HDMI.
      AleMartin
    • Of course

      if you have a new TV, you probably don't need this.
      stano360
  • If it gets an always aware to wake up call feature

    and Gbit/sec Wifi it will be the perfect way to use any monitor.

    Say you have four monitors for your desktop. Name me a faster/better way to do something that you just heard about on your iPhone.
    jnffarrell
    • definitely cooler and easier than the iPhone or iTunes

      They nailed iTunes with this one. The seamless integration with the Android handheld, and PC, simultaneously, is impressive. My iPhone/iPad friends using Airtime are seriously jealous of the Chromecast, I usually show it to them and then at the end drop that it only cost $35.
      NinjaCville
  • Platform agnostic? Apparently Windows is not a platform.

    This Chromecast exclusion of Windows devices "could" explain the almost total negatively slanted comments from Windows platform users.
    kenosha77a
    • Can work with Windows

      It can work with Chrome browser on Windows.
      moonbeamkc
      • totally works

        I am running Windows 8 on my PC, with Chrome browser right now, and it works fine. In fact, I'm using IE to type this while Chrome is casting a webpage to the TV in the other room. You won't be sorry.
        NinjaCville
    • Actually

      I heard that it doesn't work with iOS devices (OSX yes). It works with all others, I'm sure iOS is coming very soon.
      stano360