Google just announced a new way to stream movies, TV shows and the web to your living room HDTV with a $35 dongle called Chromecast that plugs into the HDMI port on any display. After a quick setup to sync your device, you can start watching (screencasting) videos from laptop, PC, smartphone, or tablet, to view Netflix, YouTube, as well as Google Play movies, TV and music.
Chromecast will initially work with Windows, Macs and Android devices. However, iPhone/iPad apps are expected soon. Google’s new product competes directly with the $99 AppleTV, which offers audio/video screen sharing technology using AirPlay but is limited to iPhone, iPad and Mac devices. Alternatively, Chromecast works cross-platform and allows multi-tasking during video streaming, for those capable of watching a movie, checking e-mail, updating Facebook and surfing the web simultaneously.
HDMI dongle streaming is not new, but it has never been this affordable or feature rich. The closest competitor that comes to mind is the $99 Roku Streaming Stick introduced last year. But the Roku device streams directly from the Internet (not from device to TV), although you can also use it watch Netflix.
Chromecast offers a broad range of content available on the web to your big screen, thanks to a new beta feature in the Chrome browser that allows you to project any browser tab to your TV. From sharing your family photos to enjoying a video clip from your favorite news site, it’s as simple as pressing a button.
One of the interesting things about Chromecast is that it’s built on an open platform. That means developers will be able to extend its functionality through new apps. In addition, it is able to send any audio/video regardless of the format. From the way the demo looks, any content you can view in a browser or app can be screencast to the TV connected via the Chromecast dongle. I believe all open-source video codecs should work, but I am not sure about DRM protected content at this time.
As a videophile, I’d like to know if it streams 1080p and what the minimum network speed is needed to maintain a clear picture without any glitches. I’ll update as I learn more.
Price and Availability
Chromecast (model H2G2-42) is now available online for $35 at Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, and on Google Play. It will be available in Best Buy stores across the U.S. starting July 28, 2013. For a limited time, you also get three months of Netflix included.
- Output: HDMI, CEC compatible
- Max. Output Video Resolution: 1080p
- Wireless: 2.4 GHz WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- Power: USB (Power adapter included)
- Dimensions: 72(L) x 35(W) x 12(H) mm
- Weight: 34g
- Supported Operating Systems:
- Android 2.3 and higher
- iOS 6 and higher
- Windows 7 and higher
- Mac OS 10.7 and higher
- Chrome OS (Chromebook Pixel)
- Wi-Fi enabled supported device and HDTV
- Wi-Fi use requires 802.11 b/g/n access point (router)
What’s in the box
- HDMI extender
- USB power cable
- Power adapter