The Chromecast is the device I never knew I wanted. Google’s new hardware provides a dead simple way to stream Netflix, Youtube, and other content on your TV.
Roughly the size of a USB flash drive, the Chromecast simply plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. Your Android or iOS device serves as the remote control, and this is where the Chromecast really shines. Content apps like Youtube, Netflix, and Google Music have a Chromecast button built in. If you’re watching or listening to content on your phone, that button switches it to display on your TV instead. And if your TV is of a a recent vintage, Chromecast is even smart enough to turn it on and switch to the right input. I’m heavily invested in using Google Music, and now finally have a way to play my music back on the best sound system in the house!
It took me a little while to wrap my head around the idea of using my phone to send media to the TV and then control it afterward. If I have one complaint, it’s that pausing music or video now requires switching my phone on to get to the button. That might be the very definition of a First World Problem, but in this case it’s the tradeoff for an otherwise amazing device.
For now, app support is a little limited. It’s up to developers to add Chromecast to their apps and expand the device’s usefulness. But with Google Music and Youtube, it already does about 80% of what I’d want my ideal list to cover. I’ve read that Hulu will add support soon, and Plex is exploring their options too. If I can get those and Pocketcasts included, I will be a very happy customer. As a workaround for some of this other content, there’s a way to display a tab from your PC’s Chrome browser. I’ve found that to be a little buggy (and with an annoying 2 second delay), but I expect the feature will improve with time.
At $35, the Chromecast feels like a must buy for anyone who wants to put web content on their TV. I plan on eventually outfitting each TV in the house with one. I’ve had zero problems, and so far it’s one of those rare devices that Just Works.