Late in July, Google surprised everyone with the announcement and subsequent release of a new hardware dongle with streaming capabilities. The Chromecast is believed to be Google’s attempt to directly compete with Apple’s Airplay and the Roku 3.
What Is Chromecast?
The Chromecast is a small, powered dongle designed to plug into the back of a television. The Chromecast connects to the television through a HDMI port and is powered through a micro-USB port on the opposite side. The Chromecast must be powered with either a USB port from the television or the included micro-USB power cord that plugs into a wall socket. Once connected to the television and powered, the Chromecast communicates with a consumer’s smartphone, tablet, or Chrome browser using Wi-Fi.
The Chromecast is designed to stream or mirror media viewed from the Chrome browser or any Android or iOS mobile device with the Chromecast app. The difference in the Chromecast’s design stems from the dongle doing the streaming work itself and not just receiving the stream from a mobile device.
Here is an example. First, you access a YouTube program on a mobile device. In the device window will be a button that, when pushed, will tell the Chromecast to access the same video stream location. Then the Chromecast will begin the stream and display the video on the HDMI channel associated with the Chromecast. While the video is streaming, the associated mobile device becomes nothing more than a remote control.
There are drawbacks to the Chromecast in its current state. As of the writing of this article, the Chromecast is unable to support many major online streaming services. Products like HBO Go, Amazon Instant, Spotify, Hulu Plus, and Rdio are not able to interface with the Chromecast natively and are only able to be displayed using the “mirror” setting while in a Chrome browser window. Currently, the only major streaming services supported by Chromecast are Netflix, YouTube, and a few other Google services.
|Type of Product||TV streaming adapter|
|Compatibility||Android, iOS, Chrome browser|
|Functions||Web browsing and content streaming|