Google recently released Chromecast. This is a little device that is able to turn a television that has a HDMI port, as well as a wi-fi connection at home, into a smart TV. Indeed, as soon as it is plugged in, people will be able to access Netflix, YouTube and so on, and they can stream information from their tablets, telephones and more. The device is so popular that it is sold out everywhere but on eBay. Best of all, the official channels are selling it for as little as $35. One of the reasons for its popularity is the fact that it included three months free Netflix as well. So is it something to get excited about, or is it just a gimmick that has been marketed very cleverly?
There is much to rave on about when it comes to the new Google Chromecast device.
It “works as advertised, and it makes me feel like I’m a little further into the future,” The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal says. “For $35, that’s a good deal.
This is but one glowing review and there are many more. Mainly because the device is so incredibly cheap, people are quick to forgive it any shortcomings. It has had four to five star reviews from various important internet marketers, magazines, bloggers and others. All of them state that due to the fact that it costs only $35, any problems it may have are irrelevant. Indeed there are other similar products already out there, but none for this price. The glowing reviews keep on coming.
Announced on Wednesday and given its Reg review on Thursday, Chromecast has left one admirer “pretty blown away,” was praised for its “pure simplicity” by another, called a “cord cutter’s dream” by a third, and said to possibly presage “Google’s domination of TV delivery” by a fourth.
At the same time, however, there are numerous reviewers that are looking at the device without considering the price. These people say that perhaps it is value for money, but what the device can actually do is pretty poor. They are saying that the device simply offers insufficient possibilities, regardless of its price. It is certainly true that it lacks in certain services (HBO Go, Amazon, Rdio, Spotify and so on). Furthermore, it doesn’t offer any possibilities for standalone use and it also doesn’t support any type of personal media. According to Google, it has a “screen mirroring feature”, but in reality that does pretty much nothing at all. Essentially, it is a device that allows you to stream YouTube and Netflix, as well as one or two other services, but that is about it. Not just that, some could say that the device can be restrictive.
There are some downsides to the Chromecast approach. For starters, it requires you have an iPhone, iPad, Android device, Mac or Windows 7 computer.
All and any problems aside, it is important to also look at what the little device can offer later. It is already called “so dumb it is smart”, which could potentially mean that it could be able to do a lot more as the technology develops. Nobody ever knows what the future holds, but most agree it is looking good for the Chromecast.
A closer look at the inner workings of Chromecast reveals that it’s a technology with impressive potential. In fact, if Google succeeds in building an ecosystem around it, it could prove to be one of the most important smart TV technologies to come along so far.
How it Works
So how does it actually work? Because many people feel like it sounds like it simply allows you to stream between your Android, iPhone, tablet or computer and your television. That is correct, but at the same time it is not. The sender app is hugely important. It is due to this system that it is not possible for popups or windows to be shown on TV. So, unlike a Smart TV, there will be no input boxes or buttons on your television screen. This is all done on the device you use to send the information. All you do is press cast, and the content that you are sending will be displayed on your television screen – simply streaming right? Wrong!
The mirroring feature is quite impressive, because it is nice to be able to view the content of your device on a big screen. However, once you have sent your command to your Chromecast, you can get back to using your device as normal. You can make calls, enter social media apps or do whatever else you want, and it will not show that on your television. This means that there is actually more to it than simple mirroring. This is because you are not actually streaming. What happens is that your device’s app tells the Chromecast to stream, so essentially it is in direct contact with the webpage you are trying to display. As such, your device is just a remote.
For example, while Apple TV and, to a lesser extent, the Xbox allow users to beam some content from their mobile devices to the television, but the mobile devices aren’t able to use many of their apps at the same time. Google says that the Chromecast will always enable multitasking on the laptop, tablet or other device without interrupting what’s streaming on the TV.
The overall verdict is good. The device is cheap, it delivers something that people are actively looking for and it has the potential to develop much further. Sure, it isn’t fantastic yet, but it is just as good if not better as other devices that are already out there and it can become much better within a very short period of time. Considering the Smart TV revolution never really did take off, perhaps this little dongle will bring about a revival of the smart functionality and finally allow people to use their TV for things other than watching programs.