Google made waves this summer when it released Chromecast, a small HDMI dongle that projects video content to your television, all for $35. It offers excellent performance for an impulse-buy price.
Somebody, I know recently picked one up to use with his home theater system and was nice enough to let me use it. I got to try Chromecast to see if it really was as good as it was billed to be.
So far? Definitely.
How Chromecast Works
Chromecast is easy to use. Just set it up on your network, and download the app to any Chrome-connected device. Now you can use Chrome on the desktop and mobile to mirror content to the big screen.
You can also use it with other apps like Netflix and Hulu+ and project content to the big screen. It’s simple and works.
Technically, it’s not any better than hooking an HDMI cord into my computer and mirroring the screen, but it’s also a lot less hassle. It’s wireless and allows you to do other things as well.
For example, you can pick a tab to “cast” to your television and switch to another tab, no trouble.
That’s it. I’m not sure what else to say about Chromecast because there’s nothing else to add. It is literally that simple. Well done, Google.
In addition, Chromecast supports desktop mirroring for folks who want to cast something to the television that’s not supported yet. Speaking of support…
Chromecast is still in its infancy, and apps are still rolling out. It’s a popular device, and it’ll get more, but it’s still unfinished.
The apps that are there have issues as well. Netflix deserves an especially condescending pat on the head for its Chromecast interface, which periodically closes and leaves you without controls for the television playback.
Also, it periodically displays connection issues. Netflix, again, can’t always connect. Sigh.
The last issue I heard about doesn’t apply to me, but folks with 5 GHz networks have reported trouble getting Chromecast to set up on their networks.
A friend also said he couldn’t use it with his university WiFi because of their rules on porting. College students might want to check out their university’s policies before buying one.
Right now, Chromecast holds up well against everyone else for one simple reason. The price.
There’s no denying that this little dongle offers excellent functionality for only $35. People spend more money on computer mouses than this thing. The level of investment required is practically zero.
However, Chromecast still feels unfinished. Google produced an amazing gadget here. Now it just has to keep corralling developers to support it.
It’s a much simpler and more streamlined solution than Mountain View’s previous effort, Google TV. Low settings, low mess, and a low price make this a good deal.
Chromecast stacks up well against its competition. Apple fans will probably stick to Apple TV for their living room needs, as that offers great integration into Cupertino’s ecosystem for $100.
However, I’d definitely recommend Chromecast for anybody looking for a cheap way to get content on the screen. It’s simple, and it works. That’s worth $35 any day.