Here is a quick little review of Google's new Chromecast device. It's my first tech review, so I look forward to reading some comments!
When Google announced "Chromecast", I ordered one immediately. It wasn't because I am a Google fan (well, I am, but that wasn't a factor), it was because of the following reasons:
- The ability to control what gets displayed on the big screen through your phone
- Doesn't use your phone to stream the data, it uses its own pipe through the built-in WiFi module
- Very small portable form factor, plugs into the HDMI port and gets power through a Micro USB port
- It came with 3 months of free Netflix. This part of the offer was promptly discontinued after they saw the demand. Moreover, I think they couldn't keep shelling out ~$23 dollars to Netflix for every device that they sold. (I managed to order it before the Netflix offer was discontinued so it was really only ~$12 for me. It was almost too cheap NOT to order it. haha)
- They have an API out so that developers can add to what it can do.
- I have a DumbTV that can use some Smarts
- This is Google's 3rd kick at the SmartTV can, so it should be more polished (maybe)
- Thirty Five Dollars??? Get out of here!
Currently, my setup includes a Boxee, which I use mostly for Netflix and some of my own media stuff via some SMB shares. While everything is working right now, there are some quirks that I have to work with. These quirks aren't really going to be fixed because it hasn't really been officially supported for a while now. Moreover, looking for the remote (and it's a great remote) is a bit of a pain every now and then.
Setting it up was pretty simple. Download the Chromecast app, either on PC or on our phone, and it will detect the WiFi network that the Chromecast is broadcasting for setup. Your device will connect to it, and from there, you just need to set it up to connect to your WiFi network. Once that's done, your Chromecast enable apps will detect that you have one on the network and show an in-app Chromecast button that you use to share/queue media.
After using the Chromecast for a little bit, I found that it was a lot easier to search and throw videos (from Netflix and Youtube) on the big screen. Since you are using the mobile apps, the UI is very easy and you aren't given something totally foreign to learn. The video quality is pretty amazing too once it buffers up. There are some moments when it gets really pixelated, but that may be more an issue with my connection than anything.
What I really like about it, is its ability to have more than one device add to the queue. It's a great way to share videos. Using either an Android or an iOS Device, with the YouTube and Netflix apps, you can have the Chromecast play the media. It's great that it supports both platforms out of the box. Also, I like the fact that it is streaming using its own WiFi connection and you aren't burning through your mobile device's precious batteries and data.
My issue right now has to do with the queue management. Once it's queued, it'll play. While I can pause it on the first video, I think it might be useful to have a feature that lets you just queue and not play until you tell it to. Maybe the setting is already in there, but I just haven't found it yet, who knows.
- Quick and easy to share videos on the big screen
- Multiple devices across platforms can throw videos on the queue
- Same mobile apps as usual, updated relatively frequently. Don't need to wait for firmware of a specific media box
- Small and portable
- Easy to install
- Limited Chromecast enabled apps (currently)
- My sub woofer doesn't like it sometimes and it makes some low bass sounds intermittently when on standby
- Some bugs with interoperability between devices, Android and iOS. It'd remember that it was playing something when an iDevice goes to sleep and is not aware that another device took over. So when the iDevice wakes up, it'll just continue to play whatever it thought was in queue and/or playing at the time
- Queue management is a little cumbersome
Looking forward to future developments with this little device!