Google’s little streaming stick is a powerful easy-to-use media player that works with your current devices. It’s also priced cheaper than rivals and has relatively great support. Read in my review how a Chromecast is an ideal complement to our ever increasing dependence on connected appliances.
Available for around £30 in the UK, you would be surprised just how much this dongle can add to your television viewing experience. Setup is pain-free and simple; just plug the Chromecast into your television or receiver via an hdmi port and attach the supplied usb cable to the device. You can then choose to either connect the usb cable to a free usb port (for example on your television) or use the provided charger to power the device. Once all connected the system will follow you through a short setup procedure, asking for your WiFi details and to give the Chromecast a name (the default being ‘Living Room’). From then on you are able to stream, or cast as Google calls it, selected applications to your television screen.
Unlike other media players there is no remote control included in the package, and with good reason. Your phone, tablet or desktop computer is the remote. By pressing the Chromecast button on supported apps users can fling the content to the television which then can be controlled from their device. If you are already comfortable with modern mobile operating systems then you will feel right at home with one of these. But if you have older people or children at home with little experience with smart devices then a media player with a remote may be the most hassle free.
In this geo-restricted world we live in nowadays not all services are available in all countries, so do make sure before purchasing what will be available to you in your country.
Netflix is available in much of Europe and America and so long as your internet connection isn’t completely terrible you will have a pleasant experience. Picture quality while streaming a title from Netflix is fantastic, out of all the version of Netflix I have used the Chromecast comes out on top. Being able to quickly bring up Netflix on my phone and send it to my television in a few taps makes it one of, if not the fastest way to start that next Arrested Development episode.
Google Play Music is my favourite music client on Android, having my entire music collection uploaded to the cloud and playable on my phone is extremely helpful and it’s also Chromecast compatible. It works great and just as you would expect it to. There is however one downside and something that I wish would be changed in an update – no gapless playback. Here’s hoping this is enabled in the future. Regardless, with Google Play Music you can turn any television or receiver into a cheap music streamer.
As someone with a large library of ripped movies and tv shows I, like many, use Plex Media Server to manage it. This handy program allows clients to access and play content stored on the server from anywhere on the network. The app for iOS, Android and the web player can choose a Chromecast to stream to. The only downside is that the device is lacking a lot of codecs so your mileage may vary. For this reason alone I am back to using the Plex client on my Samsung television. But if you do have content playable then this is an elegant way of playing it.
Everyone knows about YouTube, so this needs little introduction. Being a part of Google you can bet that this will have some well thought out support. By using the YouTube app on phones or tablets you can queue up videos to watch on television. They will then be played through one by one. Works as expected and with little fuss.
If you are using an Android device or an iPhone with the Chrome web browser you are also able to stream whatever website you are currently viewing to the big screen. This also works on desktop computers connected to the same network as the Chromecast.
I have found that developers have been slow with updating apps to work with Chromecast. One glaring omission is official Spotify support. But there are still loads available, from viewing Twitch.tv streams to listening to radio with TuneIn Radio, there is something for everyone. I believe that at the low entry price Google’s Chromecast is an incredible addition to any living room and is a must buy for anyone with a smartphone or tablet.
You can buy yourself one at Amazon, other online shops or on the high street.