Sunday, 13 April 2014

Quick Review: Chromecast

We all know the feeling. You've found a great new song on YouTube. You want to show your brother, sister, or friend. You have a great TV in your sitting room, but you have to show them this new song on your laptop or phone, and it doesn't sound half as good as it did when you had your headphones blaring. That's where Google's Chromecast comes in.

It's a £30 dongle for your TV, with virtually zero setup. Quite literally, it's plug-and-play. Once you've plugged it into your television and connected it to your Wi-Fi network, you simply go to a Chromecast-enabled app on your Android or iOS device, and tap the 'Cast' icon in the app. Here in Ireland, we have access to a few Chromecast-enabled apps, with the biggest being YouTube, Netflix and Google Play Music. Naturally, in other countries there is a much larger selection of available services.

To be perfectly honest, there's little to fault the Chromecast on, especially when you consider the price. It is competing with devices such as the Apple TV (~€100) and the Roku streaming stick (~£80), and, although it isn't quite as robust as those products, considering that it doesn't have a navigable UI, among other things, the Chromecast has a lot of the same functionality, for a fraction of the cost.

The Chromecast has no built-in support for local media, such as memory sticks or hard drives. There are a few workarounds for this, such as playing the video through Chrome on PC, or apps such as AllCast on Android. However, there can be issues with unusual codecs or formats, so something I'd love to see is video players such as VLC Media Player implementing Chromecast support on desktop platforms.

This is the perfect device for anyone who doesn't have an Internet-enabled television, and doesn't want to splash out on one. In truth, that's more or less what's you have when you have a TV with a Chromecast plugged into it.

Links:
Chromecast on Amazon.co.uk
Chromecast Apps