I was surprised at Christmas to receive a gift I had no idea I needed- Google Chromecast. Now I wonder why everyone isn’t getting one!
Chromecast is a $35.00 dongle that allows you to stream content from your computer, iPad or Smartphone to your television. Simply plug it into your HDMI port, set it to work with your wireless, and begin sending videos. You’ll use your smartphone instead of a remote.
Currently, Chromecast works best with the apps it has partnered with, including Netflix, Pandora, HuluPlus , Google Play, You Tube (and others).
To watch these videos, open the free Chromecast app on your phone, choose the app you want to watch (in this case Netflix), pick your video and it will stream to your TV and play. Notice you can start, pause, advance and control volume from your phone. Your TV screen looks like this:
You can use your smartphone for other things while it is streaming. Hopefully, Google will continue to partner with the popular content providers!
Although my television is fairly new, it is not a “smart TV.” To watch Netflix or You Tube before Chromecast, I went through a complicated process with a PS3, involving multiple remotes and seeming endless system updates etc. It simply was not worth the time. This is seamless! But what if you want to watch other streaming content, like Amazon Instant Video?
To do this, you install an extension to the Chrome Browser on your laptop and use it to “Cast.” Learn how here.
Click on the “cast” icon to stream as shown above. Your computer (unlike a smartphone) will play as you cast, but you still control everything, including volume, via the computer. Video quality does depend on your laptop (newer is better) and your wireless connection. I used a 2011 Macbook Pro (OS 10.9.1) and Charter Internet.
In my tests, Amazon Instant Video streamed perfectly. Chromecast is also a good way to watch an episode of a show you may have missed if it is available online. I “casted” episodes of Modern Family (ABC), Frontline (PBS), and 30 for 30 (ESPN) found on the network websites. It took them a couple of minutes to load and then the quality was fine.
Chromecast is portable. You can move it to any TV on your wireless system that has an HDMI port. We use a Roku on our older television. It is more expensive, the set up was complicated, and it requires yet one more remote with our system, but it works fine for Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and more (not HD quality) for older setups.