Yesterday, Google announced a new device called the Chromecast that lets users control and display content from their smartphones, tablets, and computers right on their TV. The Chromecast itself is a little HDMI dongle that’s slightly bigger than your average USB thumb drive, that plugs into your TV, connects to your home WiFi, and talks with your mobile devices…A clear answer to Apple TV with its AirPlay technology that lets iOS-only users stream content to a small set-top box connected to your TV.
Not only is Chromecast a viable option for Google/Android users, but it’s also cheap…really cheap…like, stupid cheap – Chromecast can be ordered on Google’s website for the “low-low-low-low-low-low-low” price of $35 bucks.
Check out video showing off the capabilities of Google Chromecase
Pretty dope right? Almost. There are a few things I feel that it’s my duty to point out before the phrase “Apple TV killer” starts getting thrown around.
Google Chromecast needs power
Duh, all devices need power, but during the Google announcement or in the above video, you don’t see the process of either plugging Chromecast into a available USB port on the back/side of a TV or a wall outlet using an adapter in the video. That could make the teeny, tiny Chromecast just a litte larger when you consider how to power it up in your own setup.
image credit: @CastIrony
Additionally, Chromecast can automatically switch intputs and control volume, essentially negating the need to reach for your TV remote to view content, something that I would LOVE. According the the “hands-on” reviews I’ve seen thus far, the volume feature works fine, but the input switching does not. You need to have an HDMI-CEC compatible TV in order to take full-advantage.
Google Chromecast streams internet-only content
It sucks that Apple TV only works with Apple devices, but Chromecast only works (for now) with web content (and Google stuff). In order to send content to Chromecast, you need to be using the Chrome browser for iOS, Android, and Mac or PC. You can also play content from the YouTube app and Google Play Store…and Netflix app for iOS and Android.
If you’re an iOS user, you will have to use an Android device or computer browser for initial setup.
With Apple TV, you do have a choice of streaming content located on your device, or from the web.
It’s early, and Google Chromecast is still in beta, so I will give it some slack, especially at that price point. When the dust settles, the ability to QUICKLY shoot content over to my TV, no matter what device i’m using is very attractive, once Google works out the kinks. That may just force it’s competitors (rhymes with Apple) to be a little more open, especially since Google is not being stingy with its SDK that lets developers potentially add all kinds of functionality into their own apps.
More importantly, the future is clear – Our mobile devices are evolving into our personal computing devices where they will be the center of our lives. They will simply connect to or dock with other devices (networks, cars, watches, computers, displays, appliances) to expand the power, functionality, and capabilities of a device that you can stick in your pocket.