Does anyone remember the Nexus Q, an Apple TV competitor? It was $300 and while it had a cool orb-like design and speaker plugs, it was canceled before official launch because it had “too few features for the price.” Now, here comes the Google Chromecast. Unveiled on July 24, the Google Chromecast is a little dongle that you stick inside your TV’s HDMI port which lets you pull up videos and music from a variety of places. How much is this little dongle? $35 bucks. (Free shipping and no tax (in most states) through Amazon). For some of the newer TVs, the Chromecast can get power though the HDMI port, but for most others, you’ll need to run USB power to it, but compare that to a box like Apple TV or Roku!
While brand new, it comes with a couple services right off the bat. While it doesn’t have Amazon Instant, HBO Go, nor Hulu Plus (but it’s coming “soon”), it has Netfilx and Google Video services (like YouTube). While it doesn’t have live game streams nor music (Pandora is coming “soon” and it has Google Music), it has an open SDK so it’s a sure thing that many more things will be coming. One neat feature is that unlike Apple Airplay which streams content right from the device, you can use your phone to “stream” a Netflix show, but what the Chomecast will do is automatically grab the stream from Netflix itself, so you can do other things with your phone. That also saves on battery life! Your phone will also act as a remote for the stream.
Another nifty feature that’s still in beta is Chrome mirroring. By installing the Google Cast Extension, you can mirror any open Chrome tab to the Chromecast, allowing you to watch whatever you can do in Chrome, including stream local content.
Now, another thing that’s great about this is that it supports Android as well as iOS, and it supports Windows and Mac (and Chrome OS). Unlike Apple TV, which only supports iOS and OS X (unless you use unofficial third party programs).
While there are some negatives to the Chromecast, the thing’s only 35 bucks. With all of the other stuff it can do, it’s definitely worth the money (if you can get your hands on one. Very long shipping time).