Just over a month after the release of the Chromecast, my technophile flatmate and I were finally able to get our hands on one. Both of us immediately swooned over the simple, user-friendly interface and from the moment I cast my first Chrome tab to our television from my MacBook Pro, I knew I was in love. I felt like my devices were, at last, working together as they were meant to.
For those who are wondering, the Chromecast is a dongle which plugs into your TV’s HDMI input and communicates with your smartphone or computer via Wi-Fi. No wires, no hassle. And not only can you stream from Google Play, Chrome, Youtube or Netflix – you can also use your other programmes and applications simultaneously. Be it by computer or phone, Chromecast will not get in the way of multitasking.
The hardware itself is compact and sturdy, which makes it easy to toss into your rucksack for travel, or for moving to a different room. Plus, Google also includes an HDMI extender cable for those with a particularly crowded or cramped back panel.
At a mere £22 ($35), the Chromecast is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to create continuity between your devices. Not to mention that Chromecast was built t0 work with the technology you already own: iPhones, iPads, Android devices, Chrome for Mac and Chrome for Windows. Essentially, it turns your favourite technology into a new kind of remote – one that streams the data, controls playback and also adjusts volume. All you have to do is install the Chromecast app. The best part? Anyone with a qualified device and the Wi-Fi password can instantly stream to your Chromecast – ideal for friends and guests. Sharing is only a couple of clicks away.
Though Google is currently maintaining pretty tight restrictions on how programmers can develop apps, Google assures us they will be increasing the number of applications capable of working with Chromecast in the future. Hopefully Google is not planning to partner exclusively with big corporations in the long run, but will instead release software developing kits, which would allow private developers more autonomy than they have now. It would be nice if Google kept in the open-source spirit of Android, and after they establish their standards a bit further, the technology could become more freelancer friendly. Chromecast clearly has a lot of potential.
On another note: if you already own Apple TV or Roku, purchasing the Chromecast at this point may be somewhat redundant. If you only stream feature films and television, it is probably not going to make sense to also own a Chromecast. On the other hand: I already owned an Apple TV, but personally found that the Chromecast offers unique features in its portability, operating system and ease that made it distinctly useful. In fact, I now prefer using the Chromecast more than an Apple TV.
Overall, I am pretty enamoured of my Chromecast. The only reasons I can conceive of not to buy it are because you are happy crowding around someone’s laptop to watch YouTube, or you do not own a TV. The cost to value ratio makes this device a 5 out of 5.