Google’s Chromecast device went on sale this week, and the little $35 dongle could change the way we consume television. Or maybe it’ll just be a toy that folks play with for a little while and then tire of.
One thing is pretty clear: Google’s latest attempt at bridging the gap between your TV and your internet connection is generating a lot of excitement. Amazon is already out of stock, Google Play has pushed back estimated delivery dates to 3-4 weeks, and when one redditor walked into Best Buy and walked out with a Chromecast, his post generated more than 160 comments.
What makes the Chromecast interesting is its low price and its ease of use. Sure, you can pick up an MK802 or another cheap Android TV stick and run a full-blown Android operating system on your TV for about the same price. But you’ll still need to figure out how to interact with Android on your TV, and deal with relatively slow boot times, occasionally sluggish performance, and other issues.
With a Chromecast, you’re not really treating your TV like a PC or Android device. You’re treating it like a big screen for your small phone, tablet, or computer. Find a video you want to watch, music you want to listen to, or a photo slideshow you want to display on your small device and with the tap of a button it’s on your TV.
It’s also interesting that Chromecast essentially runs a simplified version of Google’s Chrome OS. In other words, it’s using a type of Chrome web browser to handle your YouTube or Netflix videos, Pandora music streaming, or other content. And that means that pretty much anything you can access in a web browser should (at least theoretically) be available.
Does that mean you’ll be able to stream content from the Hulu website without paying for a Hulu Plus subscription?
Let’s put it this way — Hulu does work… for now. It also works on pretty much any site that uses Adobe Flash for video.
But Hulu and many other online video sites have a habit of blocking access to unapproved apps and devices. But any site that doesn’t explicitly block Chromecast might be fair game, since you can just fire up the Chrome web browser on your laptop, hit a button, and send the contents of any browser tab to your TV.
It could provide a much simpler solution than Google TV, Apple TV, Roku, or just about any other smart TV solution we’ve seen to date — and it’s cross-platform.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to have to pull out your phone or laptop every time you want to watch TV, those other solutions might still be more appealing.
Update: After spending a few hours with a Chromecast device, color me impressed.
Here’s a roundup of other Chromecast-related news from the past day.
Google Cast extension for Google Chrome
Want to send content from the Chrome browser on your PC to a Chromecast device? There’s a browser extension for that.
Just install the new Google Cast extension for Chrome and whenever you visit a Cast optimized website, including YouTube or Netflix, an icon will show up that you can tap to send video to your TV.
This extension also adds beta support for sending the contents of any browser tab to a Chromecast device, whether it’s an approved video site or not.
via Droid Life
Send local media (music, videos, etc on your hard drive) to Chromecast
While Chromecast is designed to let you stream content from the internet to your TV, as mentioned above it can actually send anything from a browser tab to your TV.
So here’s a neat trick: Open up the Chrome web browser on your computer and type c:/ into the address bar. You should see a list of files and directories on your computer’s C drive.
Navigate to a video file and you can play it through your Chrome browser — and if you can do that, you can also send it to your TV.
This is what the hardware looks like
Remember the Google H840 Device labeled H2G2-42 that passed through the FCC in May? Yeah, that was the Chromecast.
The FCC documents have been updated, and now we can look at the device’s insides.
It turns out the Chromecast is powered by a Marvell DE3005 chip and an Azurewave 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n WiFi chip.
While full details of that Marvell processor aren’t available, it appears to be a low-power ARM-based processor which is similar to the chip used in Google TV devices. That should be more than enough power to handle most HD video streams, and since there’s no user interface to speak of, there shouldn’t be much of a lag issue with anything other than possibly starting video playback.
via Brian Klug