There are a variety of TV set top boxes on the market at the moment, such as the Apple TV and Roku, so you might wonder why Google has decided to introduce their own. Chromecast offers a few advantages; its flexibility, its price, intuitive controls and the Google seal of approval.
The Chromecast device streams media services to your standard TV, connecting to your home Wi-Fi network. It employs your smartphone or tablet as the remote control (as opposed to Roku which uses a special remote control), but because the streaming is done by the Chromecast device, your smartphone or tablet is free to receive calls, surf the web or whatever you want it to do. The Chromecast's streaming ability also means that you are not using data from your mobile network to stream content. Some new TVs have built in Wi-Fi and apps for Netflix and other services, but Chromecast will work on any TV with an HDMI connection.
Chromecast normally connects to a mobile device with Android or iOS on it. It runs one browser application on your tablet or phone, unlike Apple TV, Android TV, Roku and Android or Linux sticks, which use separate apps for each TV service. The Chromecast device plugs into an HDMI port on your TV, and receives power though its mini USB cable. Most TVs have USB ports, but there is the option to power the Chromecast from a wall socket.
Some of the services that currently work on Chromecast include:
- Google Play Movies & TV
- Google Play Music
- Hulu Plus
Although currently small, this list will grow as the Chromecast increases in popularity.
Once you have sent a video from your mobile device to Chromecast you can then close the app and work on other applications. However, if you are using the Google Chrome browser to watch videos you need to keep that video running in full screen so that it appears in full screen on the TV. You will get a 'Cast' button on the top right corner of Chrome when you have the Chromecast extension installed.
Similarly to YouTube, you can adjust the image quality to match your broadband speeds. Just Click the ''Cast' button in Chrome, then click 'Options'.Under 'Tab projection quality', select Standard (480p)'. If the audio is out of sync with your video you can try turning down the quality.
Currently Chromecast will not play iTunes or Amazon Instant Video, however you can play content using a media server like Plex or from your device. To browse to content from within Chrome, press Ctrl+O or in the address bar type: file://C:/ in Chrome's address bar, (on a Mac: file://localhost/Users/yourusername).
Chromecast is currently on sale for £39, and all in all is a fairly exciting piece of kit. As always there are a few things to iron out, namely the number of services curently compatible with Chromecast.
If you have any thoughts on Chromecast or other internet television services, let us know in the comments section below.