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.

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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.

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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

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29 replies on “Google Chromecast roundup: Stream local files, peek at the insides, consider the future of TV”

  1. “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 TVtype 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” nice trick but no sound with MP4 video

  2. You can send your laptop screen to your TV through Chromecast. It is basically a wireless HDMI reciever. You do not need chrome browser at all. Anything your laptop can do, your TV will show it. You can watch movie using any software, play PC games, do presentations on TV or run any program.

    Chromecast does have audio problem. It cannot transfer audio to the TV most of the time and it is slow.

    Right now, I’d pick a 10-foot HDMI cable over Chromecast.

  3. I keep seeing people say that you can simply open a video file in Chrome and it will play in a built in video play. However, when I try to do this is simply tries to download the file instead of play it. Any suggestions?

  4. I like the concept of this. But I don’t think I like Google watching me watch TV. Google (like the Government) already tries to watch everything else I do.

  5. As are some other folks, I am *very* curious about how Linux devices fit into this i.e. not mentioned, but why not?

    However, I was just able to install the Chrome browser ‘Google Cast’ extension into my Linux Chrome browser, so if I actually had a Chromecast device, wouldn’t I be able to cast my browser screen (at least) that way? This would at least allow me to web surf, view pics, etc., right?

    1. Works just fine on Chrome for Ubuntu — doesn’t seem to work with the version of Chromium available from the Lubuntu Software Center on my laptop running Lubuntu 12.10, so you may need to add Google’s repo and install a more recent version of Chrome.

      1. Cool! Thanks for verifying this. I also just watched your initial review video and paid special attention to your demo of the ‘browser’ casting, including local content. Once the Chromecast device becomes available in Canada, I’ll love to dig even deeper 🙂

        1. ” I also just watched your initial review video”

          I can’t find that video. Where is it?

    1. Did you read the article? This doesn’t decode anything on it’s own. If you have a phone/tablet/lnotebook/pc that can play 1080p MKV files you can play them on the chromecast but the processing is not done on it.

      1. No processing is done on the remote controller (ie. phone/tablet). The Chromecast devices does the processing.

      2. The Chromecast device downloads the videos from the compatible sites and decodes it itself. The phone does 0 processing.

        There’s the browser tab mirroring feature which is different. In that case, if you play a video on your phone’s browser then it streams it to the Chromecast device. Browser tab mirroring isn’t really meant for streaming videos from a phone to your TV. It’s really just for showing regular websites.

    2. You can play a 1080p MKV file locally via the browser and that can be “mirrored” however it will “mirror” it at 720p.

  6. An easier way to play local files is to open a new tab then drag and drop the file to play.

  7. Think, if this Cromecast-Hdmi-stick had a microSD slot!
    In such case this could be a competitor to other type of mini-pc Hdmi-sticks!

    1. What? The Chromecast doesn’t handle videos, that would be useless. This thing only shows what other hardware is playing. The Chromecast on it’s own does nothing, you need another device to play the videos.

  8. I’m curious to see how files play via the browser work around. Will it still be playing on the computer and sending that out or will it take the load off the computer? Sounds like it’ll be playing on the computer.

    1. Well it’s always ‘playing’ on your computer/phone/tablet anyway, it’ll beam content to Chromecast so it’ll display on the TV (Chromecast is, simply put, “just” a receiver).

      1. Not according to Google. Most Chromecast apps that they have discussed will take over for your computer/device once you send it to Chromecast, so you can do other things with the device. i.e. it will play directly from YouTube.

        1. Ok but the device is still the required relay for Chromecast to work, even if the content isn’t displayed on the device – you still need it to fetch content, decompress it and beam it over to Chromecast. No?

          1. Nope. You can switch off the device or take it away from the living room to your office and still the video will continue to play. You can resume control of the video using another device if you want.

          2. That won’t work if you want to play your own files instead of just streaming.

          3. No. The “device” (computer/Android) is nothing more than a remote control, generally speaking. Though, that may not be true when sending a Chrome tab to Chromecast.

            Chromecast is essentially the Nexus Q. Once you “send” something to it from your “device” it takes over and gets that content directly from the web and displays it directly thus, the “device” is not doing anything from that point on. However, this is dependent on Chromecast having the appropriate app for what you want to do, e.g Netflix, YouTube, etc. . .

            However, I’m not at all sure about the Chrome tab sending feature. . .

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