The TV is the media hub of the house – you might stream online content on your computer, but nothing compares to the experience of your home theater system. If you’re looking to consolidate your bills and cut the cable cord, you may have already switched to using an HD antenna for live broadcasts. For those of us who can’t live without our shows, however, streaming online content on your TV has always been problematic and difficult to implement. Google has aimed to change all that.
At a recent press conference Google announced the release of their new device, called the Chromecast. The Chromecast is a two-inch-long dongle that plugs into the HDMI port of a television and connects to your home’s WiFi network.
The Chromecast allows users to browse content the way they normally do – on their phones, tablets, and computers – and then send it to the television for enhanced viewing and listening. Users can add videos, movies, and music to the “TV Queue” to continuously stream content on their home theater system. The Chromecast supports content from Android, iOS, Windows, or Mac devices. At launch, YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, and Google Play are supported, though more apps will have access to the device through the Chromecast Software Development Kit.
An aspect of the software that is in beta also allows users to stream content from their Chrome browser directly to the television. Users can stream a single tab to their television and continue to browse for new content in another tab.
When users send content to their television, the Chromecast can automatically turn it on and switch it to the right channel. It runs a basic version of the Chrome Operating System, and pulls content directly from the cloud over WiFi, which means that the users’ device can go to sleep and content will continue to be streamed.
While the Chromecast was made available immediately on Amazon, Bestbuy.com, and the Google Play Store, and retails for only $35, sadly but awesome for Google, most sold out the same day. However, if you are willing to be patient for a couple weeks, and do not already own a Roku or game system that you can use to stream, this is the best and one of the most cost effective little “streaming” devices out.