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Review: Google Chromecast

Yes, I know I’m a year late in posting this review. But there was no sign of the Chromecast 2.. And wanted to buy a media streaming device for the TV in my room. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Cable guys or the Set-Top box as its called…

So I was planning on buying a streaming device and Google Chromecast was my first and last choice.

SO WHAT IS THE GOOGLE CHROMECAST?

Its basically a low-cost competitor to Apple TV and Roku. It allows you to stream online video and music on your TV using your smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop.

The Chromecast has no resemblance to the Apple TV, Roku or other regular media streaming devices. It consists of nothing more than a small dongle that you plug into your televison’s HDMI port, and as a standalone device it does nothing at all – there are no internet channels to watch, nor even any way to control it.

Specifications

  • HDMI dongle, requires web connection, powered via microUSB

WHATS IN THE BOX?

The box includes, the device along with a short HDMI extension cable in case you can’t plug it in to your TV directly, and it’s powered by an included microUSB cable and mains adaptor. However, if your TV has a free USB port, you can use that to provide power instead. There’s nothing else in the box.

HOW TO SET IT UP?

Setup couldn’t be any simpler: you plug the Chromecast into your TV’s HDMI port, download Google’s Chromecast app for your device, punch in an onscreen code and off you go. It’s worth noting, however, that you also need to run a micro-USB cable into the back of the Chromecast to power the device. Most modern TVs have USB ports that can be used for this job, but if yours doesn’t you may need to run a lengthy USB cable from a power socket.

HOW TO USE IT?

As I mentioned above it is to be connected to your televisions HDMI port, and it comes alive when connected to a Android or iOS device, laptop or the Chromebooks. You can cast or beam content from the compatible devices, or simply mirror their screens following you to turn your TV into a bigger version of your smartphone.

COMPATIBLE APPS?

This is also how you can send content from your PC to your TV – install the Chromecast extension in your desktop Chrome browser, and you get a “Cast” button on top of the page. If you’re on a site like YouTube and you click the cast button, it will simply play the video from your Chromecast. Otherwise, it mirrors the web page you’re on to your Chromecast.

Streams are activated simply by pressing a button in each app and streaming quality is generally excellent, with a little breakup and few video/audio sync issues. And once the stream has started, you can close the app on the phone/tablet and carry on using the device for other tasks.

It’s also possible to stream content from non-compatible apps by mirroring the screen of an Android device (this isn’t an option in iOS). Screen casting was almost flawless from my Asus Zenfone 5, with only fast-moving 3D games creating the occasional glitch on the big screen.

You can also use the Chromecast to watch videos you’ve saved on your HDD – and it’s made really simple with Plex. You’ll need to set up a Plex server on the device that holds all your content, and then you can use the Plex app on iOS or Android to play the videos on your Chromecast. The mobile then acts like a remote – you can control playback, change the video or even use the phone for other apps once the video is playing. VLC is also supposed to get Chromecast support for Android and iOS soon, and MX Player is also apparently working on this.(Though I’ll update you’ll about it soon)

BOTTOM-LINE

If you don’t already have a way to watch Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube and other online videos on your TV, the Chromecast is great value at the price of around Rs.3000.

However, if you already have a Smart TV the Chromecast will appeal only if it offers a service that your TV doesn’t, such as Netflix.

Also, when compared to rival streaming boxes such as the Apple TV and forthcoming Roku Streaming Stick,(By other sites of course!) the Chromecast doesn’t offer very much. Or, more accurately, it doesn’t offer very much at the moment.

I’m perplexed as to why Google hasn’t added Chromecast support to the native Android Gallery app. Beaming your photos and videos via AirPlay is one of the Apple TV’s best features.

Still, for this price, it’s worth the risk that the apps you want never get Chromecast support. Bear in mind, though, that’s it’s even cheaper and easier to buy an HDMI cable and hook up your laptop to your TV – and there are plenty of Android tablets with an HDMI output. As long as an app allows video output over HDMI, you’ll be able to watch whatever you want on the big screen.

VERDICT

A brilliant, low-cost add-on for Android device users, in particular, providing a simple way to beam video from your device to the big screen. People who want to stream their own media collection should look elsewhere.

All things considered, it’s hard to describe the Chromecast as a must-have gadget. But it’s cheap enough that you can buy it just to play around with something new, and its value emerges over time, as you find it fits into your routine.

Teewe is a full Rs. 1,000 cheaper, while the Esycast is available for approximately Rs. 2,600. The Chromecast is definitely more expensive, but your favorite third-party app is more likely to add support for Chromecast than any of the others, and the build quality is significantly better. At the end of the day, you have to decide if that’s something you’re comfortable paying extra for.


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Bhavish Shah
The Gud1» Photographer» Graphics Designer» Influencer» Student» Traveler» Professional Dreamer✩ When he's done being so many people he heads out to the nearest coffee house and plans a trip to some place unknown!
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