ChromeCast – What You Need to Know

So you’re thinking of buying a Chromecast?

ready-to-cast

Google have had a few attempts at getting into the living room space, most notably with Google TV and the Nexus Q, all of which have pretty much largely failed.  Google TV failed because not enough TV manufacturers supported it, Google in fact have ceased to support the platform. The Nexus Q, just never really took off, and the early adopters had issues.

Now Google have gone a different route, a simple HDMI dongle that plugs into your TV, connects to your Wi-Fi and enables you to stream/send apps to your TV from your mobile device, be that an android tablet, phone, or iOS device. You can even do so from the Chrome browser on a Windows PC.

I’ll be writing a number of tutorials on this in the coming weeks, but for now here’s a basic idea of what it does…

chromecast_2626585b

So why is this a better option that Google’s other forays into television?

For one thing, price. The Chromecast is just £35/$35 from Amazon in the UK, and Google in the US, so far cheaper than a new TV or buying another set top box type of affair. Another reason is the sheer accessibility. I would imagine that the majority of households either have an Android or iOS mobile device. Be that a mobile phone, or a tablet, both of which are able to stream certain apps to the Chromecast.

*UK Users take note: When purchasing a Chromecast it will likely come with an American plug socket, rather than UK. Personally I used an old plug that had a USB port on and it was fine, but of course do so at your own risk.

Lastly, it’s a simple to set up. Just plug it in, enter your Wi-Fi key, and then download the Chromecast app on the device you wish to use with it. (This can be multiple devices). Now launch the app and a pairing code should appear. Enter the code, and your Chromecast will sync. You can even name the Chromecast dongle in the event you have more than one.

From your mobile device (phone, tablet, or desktop version of chrome for which you’ll need the Chromecast plug-in) you’ll note that in Netflix, LoveFilm, Google Music and other streaming apps will now be a ‘cast’ button which looks like a TV with two lines coming out of it. Pressing this button sends that app to the Chromecast on the TV. You can now lock your phone, or do something else on it. Chromecast actually takes over the streaming.

This is an ideal feature if you have a second television in a bedroom and don’t want to pay for another Xbox/PS/Streaming Box, simply plug the dongle in and connect it to a power source.

The Chromecast is powered by a Micro-USB port, and if your TV supported powered USB then you can your power cable directly from the Dongle to the TV, otherwise you’ll need to make room on your power extension cable, multi adaptor for another plug.

The only real downside to Chromecast is that there are only a small number of apps that are currently supported, most of which are understandably Google apps, with the addition of Netflix, and LoveFilm, but Google have promised that more are coming.

There are number of uses for Chromecast obviously sending Netflix to a TV, YouTube, but I found that putting the Google Music app on the TV whilst cleaning, or when you have guests round and want some background music, it’s an easy way to get your music in the room, within about 5-10 seconds playing whatever music you have on Google Play, I can even change the tracks, and volume right from the phone.

There are many possibilities to the Chromecast and providing Google continue to support it I can only see it becoming more and more popular. I already want another one….just in case.

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