Review: Chromecast
Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 11:42PM
Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla in Android, Android apps, Apps & Launches, Breaking Bad, Breaking news, Buyers Guide, Chrome browser, Chromecast, Events and Launches, First Looks, Google Play, HDMI, Lifestyle, Mobile, Opinion, Webkit, streaming

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Google's Chromecast is a tiny HDMI-dongle that is actually a media streaming accessory. It plugs into any HDMI port on your HDTV and has its own power adapter. Once you assign it to your WiFi network, you can use any Android or iOS mobile device as well as any PC or Mac to stream YouTube, NetFlix and Google Play videos, photos or music.

I had around $40 credit on Amazon.com and could either buy a nice case for my smartphone or get the Chromecast. I opted to check the Chromecast out knowing that any Google hardware is likely hackable and I figured it could be a fun device to play around with.

Chromecast hasn't been launched in Canada yet so there are no partner apps on the Google Play store in Canada but if you dig around the Internet, you will find the requisite .apk file that will enable your Android device to talk to Chromecast.

Set-up on iPhones and iPad as well as Macs and PCs is a lot easier. Simply use the Chrome browser on any of these devices and download the Google Cast browser extension and you're off to the races.

 

Getting the Chromecast to work took a few tries but when it did work, it was smooth. You can basically push video you are watching on YouTube, NetFlix and Google Play on to your HDTV and up to 1080p HD resolution. There's no discernible lag in the video/audio and quality really is outstanding.

I also discovered that if you have videos in other formats such as .mp4, .avi, .mkv; simply drag the file into a Chrome tab and if that movie plays on the browser then there's no problem pushing it to the Chromecast. Ive been able to watch dozens of videos from my MacBook Pro this way. Note that you need access to a WiFi hotspot and hopefully that does not kick you out after a certain time, in order for everything to work smoothly.

I used my Nexus 7 tablet the most for pushing content from YouTube to my TV.

Sunday morning, and there's nothing worth watching on cable, so instead of learning more about Brazilian Butt Lift, I looked up some video from some VW enthusiast events like H20 and Worthersee and found a number of cool videos which I pushed from the Nexus 7 to my TV. Just Awesome.

My wife missed watching Star Trek: Into Darkness on the big screen, and while I plan on buying the Blu-Ray at some point, I decided to rent it from Google Play.

Once I paid for the rental it took one minute to get the movie streaming on my TV and in 720p HD resolution. Image quality was simply superb, no jaggies of pixelation was visible even during scenes with a lot of action and movement which usually unravel most streaming video experiences.

There was some discernible lag when using the Chromecast to view webpages, scrolling up and down takes a second to initiate and sometimes increasing or lowering the volume takes around a second or two.

This is quite negligible and will likely be resolved once Google pushes out software updates.

Best of all, using the Chromecast didn't seem to use up more of the Nexus 7's battery life, at least not more than usual. The user interface on both the Nexus 7 as well as the TV was simple to understand and well presented.

The Nexus 7 (or MacBook Pro in other cases) simply acts as the go between the Internet and Chromecast, meaning you're not playing video on these devices and simply projecting this to Chromecast (that would be redundant). Acting as intermediaries, these devices simply enable the handshake between Internet and Chromecast so you can continue doing other things on the devices themselves while the content streams. That's cloud computing for you.

The Chromecast really has a lot of potential and is a surprisingly well-realized device for the price.

I recommend it to anyone who wishes they could use their HDTV as monitor for video and is even a great add-on for travelers who want to enjoy their content wherever they go (provided WiFi is available). It's pretty crazy to think of what this device can do and that it costs $35! The price of a freakin' smartphone case.

I'm hoping this useful gadget makes its way to Canada soon.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Article originally appeared on Reviews, News and Opinion with a Canadian Perspective (http://www.canadianreviewer.com/).
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