Chromecast – First Impressions

Chromecast

Chromecast has created a ton of buzz, and apparently generated a ton of sales, after being announced at the beginning of this week. At just $35 it’s a very promising looking device that lets you stream a variety of content easily from mobile devices and traditional computers to a TV.

I was lucky and tracked one down at a local Best Buy store on Thursday, the day after they were unveiled. I was also fortunate enough to get a redeem code for 3 months free on Netflix before that promotional offer was canceled due to overwhelming demand. So my first Chromecast cost me just $11 with that $24 reduction in my Netflix bill.

I’ve been using the heck out of Chromecast since Thursday, using it exclusively for all my TV viewing these last few nights, and I’ve got some first impressions to share on it. Here they are:

Setup

Setting up a Chromecast couldn’t be much easier. You just plug its charger into an outlet, plug the Chromecast itself into an HDMI port on a TV, then go to Google’s page for Chromecast setup and download an app.

The app finds the Chromecast device on your local WiFi network and prompts to connect to it. The it guides you through finding the TV input / source to use for Chromecast and prompts you to login to the WiFi network. The device is setup and ready to go in under 5 minutes. Installing an extension for the Chrome browser on my Mac was the last quick step. As soon as you install the Chrome extension it opens a nice, short tutorial video

There’s also a free Android Chromecast app available to download on Android phones and tablets. It’s not needed to make the Chromecast work and doesn’t do much, other than just show you apps that support Chromecast and remind you to install them if you haven’t done so already.

Chromecast Apps

A Few Highlights

Setup is easy, as covered above.

And of course Chromecast is easy to use once its setup – on Android devices or in a Chrome browser. In a Chrome browser you can ‘cast’ just about any tab to a TV.  You can do this with tabs where video is running, static web page tabs, and so on.

You can also cast content from 3 free apps on an Android device – YouTube, Netflix, and Google Play Movies & TV. All of these apps work well from my Galaxy Note 2 and my new Nexus 7.

On the desktop and on mobile devices you just click or tap on the Chromecast button and choose the Chromecast device you want to stream to in order to start ‘casting’ to the TV.

One of the very nice things about using Chromecast with these apps is that casting / streaming of content continues flawlessly when you switch away from the casting app and when the device goes into sleep mode. It even carried on perfectly for me while updating apps on my Galaxy Note 2.

I’ve watched many hours worth of movies, TV shows, and videos from the Google Play Movies & TV, Netflix, and YouTube apps – and seen little to no lag or obvious buffering of content.

Drain on battery life while casting from my Note 2 seems absolutely minimal.

The Chromecast is ultra-portable – literally the size of a chubby flash drive. So they’re going to be great for pocketing and taking to presentations where all you’ll need is a TV, a WiFi network, and a computer or mobile device to do the casting.

At the $35 price point it’s tempting to get one for each TV in a house. I’ve currently got one setup in my home office, one in our living room, and one on its way which will go in a bedroom.

Netflix Chromecast

Some Lowlights

Chromecast is not working on iOS devices yet. That’s a big miss, especially since it’s actually stated on the box that it will work on iOS. The Netflix and YouTube apps are now working on iOS, but the Chrome app is not yet.

— Content sources are limited – just the three mentioned above and many less than Apple’s Apple TV. I expect and hope this will change pretty quickly.

— Chromecast doesn’t do full mirroring of computer or device screens to a TV as yet.

— It also doesn’t yet support automatically moving to the next episode when viewing a TV show series on Netflix. Again, I imagine this will be addressed in a Netflix app update soon.

— Controlling Chromecast and the 3 Android apps that support it can be a little buggy at times. Whenever I’ve had an incoming phone call on my Note 2 while using Chromecast it’s been a bit awkward to get the streaming to pause and also get the call answered, or to take the call and then quickly pause the video.

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I’m already a fan of the Chromecast. As I mentioned above, I’ll soon have 3 of them in use at home. I think they’re already a very good option and should become an even better one quite quickly as long as Google makes more content deals for it and more apps add support for it.

What are your thoughts on Chromecast? Are you planning to buy one? If you’ve got one, how has your experience with it been?

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9 thoughts on “Chromecast – First Impressions

  1. Actually, it does work with IOS, you just can’t use IOS for the setup. You also need a wifi computer if you don’t have an Android device for the setup. I borrowed my granddaughters Nook for the setup. Once set up, I was able to add the extension on my desktop and cast a chrome tab to the TV.

    I am really excited to be able to cast IOS apps or even the chrome tabs from my ipad. I’m sure that will be supported in the future.

  2. I was jonesing for an Apple TV, but now I’m considering Chromecast, especially with such a nice price point. I might wait a little bit for more features and less bugs as you have described, but thanks for a great post!

    • Thanks Brian. Definitely a promising little device. Apple TV is great though, and of course offers a lot more content and mirroring for games and presentations and more.

  3. Pingback: Retina iPad mini Is Engadget’s 2013 Tablet of the Year | iPad Insight

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