Something so simple yet so genius. That is what Google has delivered with the Chromecast. The Chromecast avoids all of the headaches associated with trying to get online content on your television and just streams existing services. It is also the perfect companion device to the Nexus 7 and Chromebook.
Inside the box is the Chromecast device, a relatively long microUSB cable, USB power supply, and HDMI extender that makes it easier to plug the dongle into some televisions. The Chromecast itself is a small, two-inch dongle that can be plugged into the HDMI port on any high-definition television (HDTV) and is capable of streaming content from YouTube, Google Play Movies, Google Play Music or Netflix directly to the television. Yes, it’s that simple. You can also mirror websites, images, and video displayed in Google Chrome onto the screen with a simple browser extension. It can also wirelessly stream that content from your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. What’s even cooler is that you can move your Chromecast from TV to TV without any additional setup, provided your Chromecast is connected to the same Wi-Fi network (which unfortunately, only supports 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n).
When Google first announced Chromecast, it offered three months of Netflix for free, but the promotion has been pulled because so many folks rushed out to buy the thing. I was fortunate enough to still get the Netflix promotion. As interest increases, I expect apps from other services such as Hulu to be available soon.
Now looking at it from the other end of the spectrum, the simplicity of the Chromecast is also what hurts it with some consumers. Unlike the Roku and Apple TV, it is not a standalone device. It is pretty much a dongle that connects to your TV that allows you to stream content from your compatible device. The Chromecast is pretty much useless otherwise. So when you compare the $35 Chromecast with the $49 Roku LT, which can stream content from HUNDREDS of channels, one has to wonder why anyone would pick the Chromecast.
Nevertheless, Google delivered on its promise of simplicity and function with the Chromecast. While it isn’t the most feature-pack device when compared to a Roku or Apple TV, it is however one of the most user-friendly and cheapest media devices on the market today that will get better over time. As it stands, the product is well worth its price.