A while ago my partner-in-crime Sully and I were doing research like we always do for the site. While visiting a favorite site of mine, I noticed this fantastic little wunderkind called Chromecast priced at $35. Further reading drew the conclusion that this tiny giant could end my current battle with my lady at our place. That battle involving having one HDMI cord for my PS3 and her getting tired of watching Lost on her Kindle’s small-ish screen. With this amazing gem, she could watch her shows in the other room without needing the cord! Oh happy day!
Time to buy right? Wrong! Turns out that the Chromecast had been out a while and was SOLD OUT everywhere! We called and searched Best Buys online in maybe 15 cities and regions. Negative. The big Blue and Yellow were only getting 3 or 4 in at a time and they would literally stay on the shelves for seconds only. Hmmm okay what about Amazon? Nope. Super ‘nice’ third-party retailers were grabbing up the $35 device and reselling them for around $150. It was looking hopeless. But then, because she’s got superpowers, my lady found one and surprised me with it. Confetti and balloons fell from the sky…………….it was a good day.
What Is Chromecast?
Okay so Google did not make up the ‘streaming peripheral’ device market. Yes, there have been others around longer like the Slingbox, Roku, and the AppleTV. But what’s keeping this little guy alive and in the fight is what Google put under the hood. This baby gives fast, immediate, and easy access (once connected and setup to your WiFi) to YouTube, Netflix, and Google Play. While we know those other devices can maybe do more, possibilities seem to be almost endless thanks to one feature of the Chromecast; a Chrome extension called Google Cast. With this you can add a speed button to your computer’s Chrome browser in the upper-right corner, click it’s “cast this to” tab, and boom! What was playing on your monitor will now be playing on your TV (somewhat chop-free). Not too bad huh?
The package contained the Chromecast unit itself upfront. After lifting it out of it’s cradle, you’ll find the USB power cable, AC adapter, and a HDMI extender underneath. I plugged the unit into an open HDMI slot on the TV, attached the USB cable to and plugged the other end into the wall using the AC adapter. That’s pretty much it for hardware setup! Tuned my TV to the right input and followed the onscreen instructions using my iPad. Now, it did take several tries for the Chromecast to find my WiFi connection but it did and the whole process took about 15 minutes from start to finish. At the 16th minute I was ‘casting’ Lost via Netflix for my lady.
You can pay anywhere from $50 on upwards to around $300 for streaming device. I mentioned several earlier and good ones as a matter of fact. But let’s face it, Apple isn’t going to offer the AppleTV for $35 anytime soon and at this price this little memory stick-sized powerhouse is an amazing bargain. I’ll admit a few things though to be fair. One thing I did read about before hooking it up was that some folks were complaining about the sensitivity of the WiFi signal – in regards to the distance between the unit and the router – saying you can’t have it too far before you get choppy video. A quick or painful relocation of your router might help, though I really didn’t experience this much. I am grateful for a pretty strong and fast internet connection but I do feel it in my wallet believe me. Another thing I read up on (and missed the first time) was that there ARE limitations for the system requirements to be able to use Chromecast:
- Windows Vista, 7, or 8 – ( I have none of these )
- Mac OS X newer versions – ( I have none of these )
- Android 2.3+ smartphones / tablets – ( Guess who doesn’t have any of these either)
- Chromebook and Chromebook Pixel – ( Next…. )
- iOS 6.0+ iPhones, iPads, and iPods ( JACKPOT! )
So don’t fret if you’re an old Windows XP warrior like me because chances are you have one of these other applications you can use. For now I can control the basic video playback functions and selections using my iPad or iPhone without a hassle. Google has also promised dedicated apps coming soon for both Android and iPhone in their respective app stores. All in all, we’ve been using Chromecast for 3 days now and couldn’t be happier! I highly recommend it for sure for what it offers: great streaming at a super affordable price with an open imagination in the distance for new content options.