Google Chromecast Review
There may not be an Internet streaming device as unique as Google Chromecast. Its relatively cheap price point, couple with its minimalistic design have made it a hit since Google released the first Chromecast in 2013.
While most streaming devices include a set user interface that includes a menu, Chromecast lacks one. It also lacks a remote, instead relying upon your devices to utilize the Chromecast. The device doesn’t come bloated with apps, meaning you basically are just streaming all content from your phone, tablet or computer to Chromecast. This has its pros and cons, but overall works well.
Chromecast is the definition of plug and play. All it really is, is a dongle that plugs in to an HDMI port on the back of your TV. It does still require an external power source, but it can draw power through a USB port on your TV as it uses a USB power cord.
The device comes with 512 RAM and 256 MB of flash storage, which falls below average in terms of memory and storage with the majority of streaming devices on the market today. Though it is below average, Chromecast still operates fairly well as it doesn’t have anything actually stored on the device as all content is steamed to it from another device. The Chromecast can stream up to 1080P and runs off a revised version of Google OS.
If you don’t have WiFi or you simply prefer Ethernet, Google has an adapter available for purchase but the Chromecast can’t natively accept an Ethernet cord. This isn’t a huge deal in 2016, but it could be a deal breaker for some.
When the Chromecast first released in 2013 it only had 4 apps compatible with it. As of May 2015, the device had over 2,000 apps, channels and games available to use with the Chromecast. The Chromecast is compatible with major apps such as Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, etc. It’s also compatible with the Chrome web browser. This is a great feature that allows you to mirror whatever is in your web browser to the TV, from your computer or smart phone.
The Chromecast works with most major Google Apps and stores including Google Play Music and the Google Play Store. Meaning users of these apps won’t be left out of the dark when wanting to stream a movie they just rented to their TV.
It is possible to play games on the Chromecast, but not with an external gaming controller like what you might find with Amazon devices or the Apple TV. Instead you will use your device to play the games. This works fine, but can drain your device’s battery quickly.
Though Chromecast doesn’t save and run apps on the actual device, it’s compatible with enough apps to make the experience comparable to what you would find on other streaming devices on the market.
How does it work?
Apps are “compatible” with Chromecast. They aren’t actually on the Chromecast. This means that you will be downloading the app on your smartphone, tablet or maybe to your computer and streaming it to the Chromecast.
So how does this process work? Users will open the app they want to use on the TV, and simply look for the Chromecast logo. In order for an app to be streamed to the device, both devices must be on the same WiFi network.
As long as both devices are on the same network, users are able to stream that particular app to the Chromecast provided it is compatible with Chromecast. On some apps, after launching the app to Chromecast, you’re able to use your device for other things.
There are many devices that can be used with the Chromecast, including iPhones, Android phones and tablets, iPads, Chrome for Windows and Mac OS X. There are also some devices that aren’t supported, namely, Windows phones and Blackberry phones.
Drawbacks of Chromecast
Relying on devices to act as a remote is both a pro and a con. It’s a pro as you can “cast” just about anything in your web browser to the device; it’s also just a nice convenience to have. But there are cons to this including decreased battery life with your smartphone or tablet and potential connection issues with in the internet network. For instance, If your smart phone were to be suffering from WiFi issues and that’s the only device you had, you wouldn’t be able to operate your Chromecast even if it had a WiFi connection.
Another issue with the Chromecast is its list of compatible apps. While the device does have a lot of app support already, its library isn’t as built up or diverse as other streaming devices. This has and will continue to change with time.
Finally, one minor issue with the dongle is that it has a very short HDMI wire. This could or could not be an issue for you. If it is an issue, Google says some HDMI extenders are compatible with the Chromecast dongle, but not all.
How Much Does Google Chromecast Cost?
Price is where the Chromecast shines. At only $35, it is the least expensive of the major streaming devices. Of course you’ve got to provide your own device to control it, but the Chromecast comes with the dongle, a USB power cord and a power brick. As previously stated, you can draw power from a USB port on your TV if you don’t want to connect the power brick into a socket.
Is Google Chromecast Right for You?
Chromecast is optimal for anyone looking for a lower priced device, that’s capable of streaming apps but isn’t loaded with the bells and whistles that a more expensive device will have.
The first Chromecast was released in 2013 and since then Google says they have sold over 25 million units. It’s clear the Chromecast is a popular device and a solid entry level device for those looking to join in on the cord cutter movement. At just 35 bucks, the Chromecast is certainly worth a shot as it can run most of the big apps you will find on something like Roku or Apple TV.