It’s hard to believe it’s been just a little over a year since Google released the cheapest set-top “box” there is, the Chromecast. Initially, I wasn’t too enthused. After hearing how my friends liked it, I figured why not make the jump? It would give me some entertainment when I was on the road as well. Since picking it up, I’ve completely fallen in love.
What makes the Chromecast so great besides the price? Let me count the ways. First, it makes it easy as pie to move a YouTube video to my TV. Granted, my Roku also has this feature, but the Chromecast method is one that my son understood in about 2 seconds. Once I told him tap that icon on his iPhone, he instantly got it. He immediately started streaming his favorite bowling videos to the TV. He liked it so much I may have to go get him his own, and why not! It’s only 35 dollars at most! Two Chromecasts cost LESS then a new Roku 3, and they do 99% of the job that the Roku did for me and more.
If all it could do was stream video from various services, then that would be fine, but you can do so much more. With recent updates, you can stream the screen on any Android device running version 4.4.2 or better to the Chromecast. That means ANY app that supports video streaming will stream to the Chromecast. I tried it with Time Warner’s App, A&E’s app, History and more. It ALSO has an added feature. If you start the stream and plug headphones into your phone or tablet the audio on the TV cuts off and plays only in your ears. Very awesome for those who like to watch TV from their bed. So really, this little $35 device is as good as a $99 Roku. That’s saying something. It even gets better and easier when Android L is released.
Video apps? Check. Screencasting? Check. Gaming? ALSO CHECK! There aren’t many, but there are some games that stream to the Chromecast. There’s an emulator that will let you play Super Nintendo games on your Chromecast. Not a really game, but a unique use of the Chromecast is as a virtual whiteboard. Anything you draw on your tablet or phone can be shown simultaneously on the Chromecast with Doodlecast.
The real genius with Chromecast is the fact that there’s no remote. Using your Android phone, tablet or an iPhone lets you do a lot of what the Roku can do. You can also use your laptop with the Chrome Extension. I am using that as I write this to stream and control Ham Nation to my TV. Google has leveraged technology we all know how to use as the remote for the Chromecast, which means no clicking an onscreen keyboard with a clunky remote. It’s so easy that even a non-geek like my son got it in a few seconds. As far as I am concerned, all other set-top boxes can learn a lot from this.
I am sure I am just scratching the surface of what this amazing device can do. All of this came just in the first year of its existence. Do you have a unique use for the Chromecast? Feel free to share below.
Source: Personal Purchase
What I like: The price and the simplicity.
What Needs Improvement: How my son and I fought for control of the Chromecast…although this could also be a good thing as it’s guaranteeing I will be buying a second making Google another sale.