So yes at $35 I bought a Chromecast and expect delivery sometime in August. I’ll do my testing then. First a few clips from the hype vendors and then a little reality check. On a personal level the reality check will be the convenience of Chromecast with Netflix (Hulu?) must be better than using the AppleTV. I also recognize I am not the real target for this device.
First up, neat technology, neat interpretation…. presume the Chrome browser on your device (iOS, Android, Mac, PC etc) sends a link instruction to the Google Cloud which then plays it on your TV (I presume Google must hand off this instruction to Netflix or has some arrangement if they stream it for them). If you have the right TV it may even wake it up.
The Chromecast doesn’t directly mirror your screen to devices a la AirPlay, though the two concepts are pretty similar. After what Google promises is quick and painless syncing, it turns your phone or computer into a remote, allowing you to queue up and play videos, control volume, or even turn on the TV; from there, you can use other apps without interrupting playback.
True Airplay is limited and this looks like a real shot at AppleTV. It allows you the one thing that AppleTV/Airplay doesn’t allow right now – to get on with your stuff while effectively mirroring a screen in the background. The difference is in potential. AppleTV could become an app centered platform while Chromecast is a browser projector instructed from you “remote” device.
Chromecast is essentially Google’s answer to AirPlay. But it’s available on more than just one platform. It also features group playlists, continues playing the media back while the phone is doing other things and even streams while the device is asleep. The big downside is that, as of right now, this feature requires the Chromecast device — it’s not available on countless devices like AirPlay. At least not yet. via Google Launches The $35 Chromecast Streaming Device To Bring Chrome To The Living Room | TechCrunch.
Jeff’s point next is a good one and just like cutting the landline many of us would love to say goodbye to set-top boxes and cable channel providers. His post has a wealth of ideas in the wouldn’t this be great. All good reasons why we see hype rather than reality.
Google just demoted your television set into a second screen, a slave to your phone or tablet or laptop. With the $35 Chromecast you can with one click move anything you find on your internet-connected device — YouTube video, Netflix, a web page as well as music and pictures and soon, I’d imagine, games — onto your big TV screen, bypassing your cable box and all its ridiculous and expensive limitations.
Unlike Apple TV and Airplay, this does not stream from your laptop to the TV; this streams directly to your TV — it’s plugged into an HDMI port — over wi-fi via the cloud … er, via Google, that is. Oh, and it works with Apple iOS devices, too. via Google’s TV — BuzzMachine.
The Reality Check:
- Is it really new? Many have streamed all sorts of content from phones and PC’s to the TV using a variety of methods. From cables to wireless solutions. So the first question is. How useful and frequent is this streaming? How important is it to get it streaming through your TV? On what occasions? I’d suggest that playing “net content” on the TV is relatively small currently, as it is both painful and could be costly for limited or occasional use. It could also open up a new market and expand the way we currently engage with content. This is yet to be seen. No question that going “cordless” is better.
- Cost: $35 seems fairly reasonable. Certainly competitive vs the obvious competitor AppleTV. Note Google must have done a deal with Netflix as there is no on-screen way to sign-in on Chromecast. You sign into Netflix in Chrome and then the magic is done – cloud handshaking backend. Netflix will like this deal as it will expand the number of Netfix users. Using a PC to stream to your PC is a nuisance. Let’s face it $35 is less than the cost of a replacement remote. However, this won’t convince AppleTV users to switch.
- It’s a Browser – not a Media Player. So you just downloaded the latest movie. You want to play it on your TV. You probably open your media player. Oh guess what Chromebook won’t play this movie. A lot of what I see is people plugging laptops into TV’s to play downloaded movies. Chromecast doesn’t make that easier. Photos? Videos? Probably not unless you have shared them or deposited them into Google already. Chromecast will become better the more content you put in Google’s cloud.
- Content: Streamed is what has a Chromecast button. Note Netflix and YouTube will be active. Hulu isn’t yet so it won’t work. CNN isn’t so it won’t work. The current offering is more limited than portrayed. Unless I’m missing something and Google will stream my content from Hulu which means they “mirror” it while my tab is open. If so that is using the cloud rather than my device to mirror content. Google also says stream music to the TV. Well TV’s suck for sound unless you have some expensive system hooked up. Still we can’t expect this USB stick to fix that problem.
- Hype re Games: Apparently there is an API and who knows what might be created. Controller Apps with cloud based games. How many Android apps can be chromecast? That certainly has to come. What’s unclear is whether these will run effectively from the cloud. Then there will be all the discussions about how and what type of remote for games.
- Paywalls: Let’s just ask ourself what happens with paywalls. Newspapers limit access. Will content you want to watch still require the “comcast” like sign-in to prove you should have access? Will Google+ become the media signatory on our behalf? There’s a big trick to getting all these media outlets to sign on.
So ask yourself which living rooms this is going to go into and why? What will it really change? It may make your son happy when he wants to stream various content available in Chrome. Will more YouTube be streamed on TV? Don’t know. There are many age and demographic queries that this product raises. From both purchase (after the tech geeks) to usage. It’s definitely a welcome “electronics” addition. I look forward to trying it out. I suspect I will be disappointed, unless using Netflix is more convenient in this format than using AppleRemote and AppleTV. Then I will start singing it’s praises.
If you are another company…. then… What’s your Chromecast strategy? If you are Samsung? They could probably just build it in almost overnight. Why have the dongle? Not sure what this means for their Boxee purchase and product? If you are Apple then quickly turn your AppleTV into the App Station it should be. It is way over due.