Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player
When it comes to entertainment, this little device brings the big party. The house recently got a new television and it came with a roku streaming stick, however it would not connect to the wifi connection (after several attempts) so I began reviewing similar products and came across the Google Chromecast. The product is simple to set up and requires around 10 minutes to find the latest update before it's ready to use. Watching netflix or videos from youtube on the television is great and it works with several other apps as well including pandora radio station. For $36, the device is a must have!
- Not a bad price, though I feel like it's potentially not low enough to compete with Roku. (I have never used a Roku)
- Setup is easy, but initial setup requires a wireless device (phone/laptop) so that could be an issue for some. After that, ethernet enabled devices will connect to it for normal use.
- The Chrome extension is nice and simple, gets the job done you need and that's it. Wish it could optimize for video as well, instead of just audio, but here's to hoping in time.
- Screen sharing is supported officially/natively but is in beta. Your mileage may vary and mine wasn't terribly great so far. That said, I was trying to stream Dota 2 wirelessly and hoping for as smooth of an experience. The framerate is what suffered, color and fidelity else wise was pretty well preserved.
- Streaming of your current tabs worked well, even when I was streaming a 720+ Twitch stream. Sadly, however, it doesn't automatically fit your streamed image to the aspect ratio of your TV and does not have built in controls to adjust it. My TV couldn't quite figure out how to fit it in properly, so I was losing some of my image. Depending on your hardware setup, again your mileage may vary.
- Screen sharing for locally playing content worked a bit better than a live game, but still is a bit choppy. Perhaps there is a 3rd party solution that is better? For now, screen share is mediocre at best if you can't avert your eyes to choppy frames.
- You are able to play most local files directly through Chrome, thus it runs in a tab and you will have smoother streaming through Tab Share as opposed to Screen Share. Not sure about more obscure file types however.
- Does NOT require an outlet to power it, assuming you have a female USB port on your TV. This is SUPER great to hear!
- Easy to plug and unplug, so taking it to the bedroom TV or to attach to a laptop is going to be one of the best things I get to do with it. What's more, because you tether to the device and save it, you could conceivably take it on the road to hotels etc. This, of course, would require both devices to attach to the same WiFi, so this may be trickier than it seems.
- You can share your Android screen/apps to it as well which could be great for sharing photos quickly and painlessly. Grandparents will love it!
Overall I think it'll be a nice device to have, and as more apps are made available and open source engineers are able to optimize the sharing capabilities (especially for screen sharing) it will only grow. For now, I think it'll be great for Netflix in the bedroom and at replacing my increasingly disappointing Ouya's only remaining function.
Overall score: Pretty decent, but some more advanced features need optimization.