Is Chromecast the Future of Video Streaming?
More than 200 billion videos are viewed online every month, and a substantial number of them are viewed on tiny smartphone screens. SundaySky reports that in 2012, 20 percent of smartphone users streamed video content via their phones, with 50 percent of tablet users doing the same. It’s likely some of these mobile users have a high-resolution TV at home, but they don’t always favor it for viewing online content.
Google hopes to change all that, and their latest move to that end is the launch of a new gadget called Chromecast. It just might be one of the easiest ways to get online content from a mobile device or laptop onto that expensive HDTV. You might be thinking this is nothing new. Indeed, the Roku streamer, Apple TV and even most Blu-Ray and video game consoles can do the same thing. Similarly, BlackBerry has new cell phones that can sync up virtually with any of the brilliant new tablets available right now. The days of settling for streaming videos on a tiny screen are officially gone. However, there are some notable differences between Chromecast and these other devices and methods. Here are some of the advantages of Chromecast over other streaming options.
Ease of Use
The Chromecast device couldn’t be easier to implement. It’s small, essentially a thumb drive that plugs into an HDMI port on your television. The back end has a Micro-USB slot. Plug one end of the cable into it, and the other into a USB port found on your computer. Switch the input to HDMI on your TV, and a new screen will walk you through the rest of the set-up process. This involves downloading an app to your smartphone or tablet, and pairing it with your television via your Wi-Fi network. The entire setup process takes about five minutes.
You’re now ready to send videos to your TV from any Chromecast-enabled app with one single press.
One of the biggest selling points of Chromecast is its affordable price. At just $35, it makes the $100 price tag of the Roku 3 streamer seem steep.
A Built-in Remote
Once Chromecast is set up, your smartphone essentially becomes your new remote control. Start, stop and skip around the content you’re watching right from your smartphone.
This last point could be a pro or a con, depending upon how opinionated the TV watchers in your home can be. Your Wi-Fi network and a bit of software are now all it takes to control your content. That means anyone in the room with a smartphone is essentially holding a remote control. The battle for the remote could potentially go nuclear with Chromecast.
You’ve Heard The Pros — Now for the Cons
At present time, content sources are limited for Chromecast. Right now, there’s Netflix, YouTube and Google Play. Google is (understandably) hoping users will buy most of their content from Google Play instead of Amazon, Apple or any of the others. However, Chromecast is built into the new Chrome browser, as well, so you can surf on over to HBO.com or Hulu.com, and connect with other content.
Early reports indicate Chromecast is a hit. Google was initially offering the service with a free three-month subscription to Netflix, but the offer had to be pulled due to overwhelming demand, according to TIME magazine. While it’s unclear how many devices were sold before the promo was ended, a Netflix employee revealed on Twitter that 250,000 promo codes had been created. Regardless, with so many great features and a price tag of only $35, it’s likely many more smartphone users will be lining up to try this device.
Michael Faulks is a tech supervisor for an equipment installation company. When he is not busy troubleshooting, he enjoys writing about digital trends and the tech world.