Review: Chromecast

You hear it all of the time, that streaming movies and TV shows will dominate over traditional cable TV and Satellite providers. We already had the Roku Media player, a console device that allows you to stream media over your home network onto your television set. However, Google has taken this to another level. It is called the Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player.

Chromecast is a media streaming device that is about the size of a USB flash drive and plugs directly into the HDMI port of your television. While it doesn’t have multiple channels like the Roku Media Player, it does allow you to stream wireless media directly from your laptop, PC or android device. Another attractive feature is that it can do all of this at a one time cost of only $35.

Unboxing the item was completely painless. The contents revealed the Chromecast module as well as a USB cable and optional adapter for powering the device. You just plug the thing into your television set, and the onscreen instructions guide you through the setup process in just a couple minutes.

There are several apps that work with Chromecast, and I expect the market to expand since Google made an API available to programmers. Among the apps that I use most are Youtube, Netflix and a extension for Google chrome called VideoStream. Youtube and Netflix are extremely easy to use with Chromecast. After you find the video that you want to watch, you simply click on the Chromecast Icon located in the video players toolbar. This works for both PC and Android devices.

Videostream for PC is soley designed to use with Chromecast. This app allows you to stream any video that you have on your hard drive directly to your television. You simply select the media file that you wish to play and then choose which Chromecast device you wish to stream to (In event your home has more than one). One thing I wish that they would improve however, would be to allow you to stream content from your PC even when your Internet Service is down. I’m not clear whether this is a hardware or software issue, but if your Internet goes down then Chromecast will be unavailable, even for streaming content already downloaded to your local area network. There are several Android apps that can do the same thing that Videostream does, such as Allcast, which is available on the Google Play Market.

Another neat feature that Chromecast can do is place any content inside of your Chrome web browser directly onto your television screen. This could be useful for presentations or simply browsing the web on your television set. I would not recommend this method for streaming videos that do not support Chromecast as this usually creates lag between the PC and the Chromecast. I would image that this is because the PC has to not only use bandwidth to pull in the signal, but it also has to send the data at the same time. I have not tried doing this on other hardware or another network, so this could just be an isolated problem as far as I know.

Of course, the apps that I mentioned above are not all that is out there. With Chromecast’s popularity growing since its release, I can only imagine that there are far more supportive apps out there now, than when the last time I checked.

I can’t say whether or not Chromecast is better than having a Roku or Apple TV, it really is in a league of its own. Since I decided to cut the Cable cord, I’ve found it useful to have both a Chromecast and a Roku. Like Roku, Chromecast can also stream from Plex and Netflix, but I believe there are limitations on the Roku when it comes to youtube. Roku does however, add several new channels to your video streaming experience. After a quick search, it appears as though both Roku and Apple TV are following in the footsteps of Chromecast by marketing similar devices of their own. Amazon is also attempting to get in on the market with the new Amazon Fire Stick TV which sells for $39 (Not sure if a subscription is required). The Roku version of the Chromecast sells for $50, but again I cannot speak for this device since I do not yet own one. Out of all of these, it appears as though Chromecast is the only one that works with the Microsoft Windows Operating System.

In conclusion, I have to say that purchasing a Chromecast is a good investment, and with the API being made available as open source, I can only expect this decision to get better as time goes on. It has not only expanded my media streaming options, it has also expanded upon my entertainment choices overall. I highly recommend this product to any other streamers out there.