Google Chromecast Review

Setup

Once everything is plugged in setup is very simple. You can accomplish the feat either with an app for your Android device, Mac or Windows PC, via a website on your iOS device or with a Chrome extension on Chrome OS. This will get the Chromecast connected to your Wi-Fi (5GHz networks need not apply) and quickly walk you through the authentication process. In all, from powering it on to cating our first video took only about 3 minutes.



Interface and Functionality

There is not much to the Chromecast interface beyond the initial setup. Though Google claims it is built off of Chrome OS, in reality it is a blend of Chrome and Android. None of that really matters to the end user though, since all you’ll see is a screen indicating the device is connected and waiting for you to send video to it.

One excellent feature is that the original content will continue to run no matter if you switch tabs or send the app to the background on your Android phone or tablet, allowing you to continue using your device while watching the content on the TV. Playback is controlled on the originating device, no clunky remote to deal with.

The best experience is with supported apps, which right now include Google Play Music, Movies and TV, YouTube and Netflix. Simply hit the cast button available online or via the app and the content is pushed to your TV, simple as that. Video quality was very good, quickly ramping up to HD and staying there which isn’t something we can say for Netflix on our Xbox or HTPC.


Though the list of supported apps is sparse now, both HBO and Hulu have confirmed that they are in active development to bring Google Cast (the streaming standard used by Chromecast) support to their apps. Check those two off the list and the Chromecast only needs to add Amazon Prime Video and Slingbox to cover most user’s streaming needs. Developers such as Koushik Dutta have already demoed streaming local files via Chromecast, which would make HTPCs all but obsolete. Though it is only a few weeks old, Chromecast is off to a very promising start.

The second half of the streaming equation is tab casting, which is officially still in beta. With the Google Cast Chrome extension simply press the cast button, choose where to cast to and the current tab will appear on your television. It works well for internet browsing, but not so well for streaming video. Some have reported better results, and performance is tied to the hardware and network you’re using, but with our Ivy Bridge i5 laptop with 8GB of RAM and AT&T’s 25Mbps home internet plan, video was still choppy and audio out of sync. Furthermore, not all streaming services are able to be casted; when we attempted to watch our Slingbox everything was fine on our laptop, but the casted tab’s video pane was empty despite the rest of the page rendering just fine. The beta tag is well deserved.


Once you understand how Chromecast works it makes sense why the tab casting experience is sub-par. If you’re using a supported service you initiate the stream from your device, but from there it is streamed directly from the internet to the Chromecast. When casting a tab the content is pushed from your computer and mirrored on the Chromecast. This mirroring is why we see lag, while the streamed content from official sources is smoother. So, while technically you’re not sending a YouTube video from your device to the Chromecast, the user experience makes it seem so since you initiate everything from your device. This seems so simple and intuitive, but cluttered interfaces and clunky remotes have plagued these efforts in the past. The beauty and genius of Chromecast is that you simply do everything as you would currently, then just hit a button to shift the content to your TV.

Conclusion

At Google’s recent brunch everyone was anticipating the new Nexus 7 and Android 4.3, but Google surprised everybody with Chromecast. It arguably stole the show, and rightfully so. Nothing against Asus’s latest Nexus (it’s wonderful, and makes a great companion), but a $35 device that streams YouTube and Netflix to your bedroom or hotel TV is virtually a no-brainer. With just a few more key content partners and well-made apps, Chromecast’s simplicity and price point should worry both small players like Roku as well as big ones like Microsoft. It appears that Google may have solved their TV problem in a big way with a little device.

Pros

  • Dead simple setup and interface
  • Great streaming quality with supported apps
  • The price makes it an impulse buy you won’t regret

Cons

  • Limited content partners at launch
  • Tab casting is not ready for primetime

PhoneArena Rating:

9.0

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10 Comments

1. LetsBeHonest

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

Great product google definitely a good one tiny,portable and above all highly useful and nice price tag awesome.... Too good to be true...wait its true.. Ha ha

2. mambocream

Posts: 29; Member since: Jun 10, 2011

Set mine up yesterday. Simple setup took about 2 minutes and I was streaming from Netflix. Hopefully this takes off and more apps begin to allow casting to it.

3. Alantef

Posts: 288; Member since: Sep 14, 2011

this should of been the first 10....its crazy easy

5. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

No, it should get an 7 for "lacking apps". Hey ooooooh!!!! It's a neat product and good for them making it easy, but it needs to be more cross-platform friendly (not everyone uses chrome or android, after all) and should have more content at launch, something that's helped Roku be so successful. Also, I haven't seen any pictures of it in use; does one plug this into HDMI but then have to also plug in a MicroUSB charging cord, or does the user have to unplug it every so often to charge it?

6. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

It works on iOS as well. And technically, since you can stream your entire Chrome browser on it on Mac and Windows (though it's in beta I think), it has unlimited content. You have to plug it in with a microUSB cord while you're using it, there is no battery.

4. druna974

Posts: 3; Member since: Aug 08, 2013

"that streams YouTube and Netflix to your bedroom or hotel TV" - I don't think anyone has been able to get this to work in a hotel room (without using a personal router on a personal cellular hotspot).

7. zinniadx

Posts: 4; Member since: Apr 29, 2013

Google's Smarter Idiot Box - Chrome cast, with Minimum of hardware, helps you to stream your video and browser content to your TV screen and It can connect to almost every popular operating system available today including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and its own big brother Chrome OS. And the best part, You don’t even need a remote. Just press a button on your main device and you will see the video or contents of your chrome browser on the Big screen in your home.

8. DontHateOnS60

Posts: 872; Member since: Apr 20, 2009

This seems pointless... Why would I want this over the HDMI connection on my RAZR when that does full mirroring without a hiccup? No wires? Yeah I get it if you use the services that currently work, but if I already have movies from other sources on my phone, and photos I want to beam to my TV, this is useless right now. I'll pass for a hard wired connection until someone comes out with a true open source solution that all platforms can use.

10. sarge77

Posts: 202; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

if you have a smart tv yes you dont need it because you can connect to it and push your smartphone image to it. this is great news for me though watch any content from my phone to tv sounds good something the ps3 couldnt offer for some reason the codec the smartphones use for aac mp4 wasnt good for ps3 though I never tried it on my xbox. The chromecast woukd be more functional if it mirrored gaming as well or just mirrored the phones period rather than using google app great concept google.

9. TheTinCity

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 26, 2013

This little gadget has worked well for me, but you may want to take a look at these reviews before you make a decision: amzn. to/14H2nLw - These reviews definitely helped me make a wise choice.

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