The Chromecast isn’t the first attempt by Google to get you watching TV with a box with their name on it. The Google TV was launched in 2010 but hasn’t made the impact that they may have hoped. However, they’ve tried again with the Google Chromecast.
Rather than being a bulky box, the Chromecast comes as a dongle not much larger than a USB stick. The main difference is, instead of a USB port, it has a HDMI connection. There is then a micro USB plug and cable on the opposite end which gives the unit power. Once plugged in, and tuned into the right channel on your TV, you see a screen with the name of the Chromecast and options to set it up.
Downloading the Chromecast app from Google Play, you can then control the device and link it to your WiFi network. One word of warning, though, it doesn’t work on 5GHz networks, only the 2.4GHz networks. It sadly doesn’t suffice to have it on dual channel broadcast though, as we found out.
Once connected to your WiFi network, the Chromecast will be available to stream music, video and photo’s to. This is great if your TV doesn’t have a connection to things like YouTube and Netflix, and allows you to stream shows from either of these apps (and more are being added all the time).
The Chromecast app is free on the Google Play, and allows you not only to hook up the device to your WiFi, but also set settings and manage other Chromecast’s if you have any in other TV’s. To play something on your Chromecast (for example from YouTube), you select the video you want to stream and press the stream icon (A WiFi type icon in the bottom left hand corner of a rectangle) and select the device you want to stream on. Whilst playing, the app on your phone/tablet will show where the video is being played, as well as a notification icon with play & pause buttons. When the video has finished playing, it will fade to black on the TV and return to its standby state.
If you don’t like or want further options to use the Chromecast, you can try AllCast app, which not only stream to Chromecast, Xbox, Smart TV’s, Apple TV’s and via DLNA. This will allow you to also stream music, photo’s and videos. There is a free version and a paid version which allows you to get rid of the ads, splash screen and play videos longer than 1 minute.
The Chromecast isn’t a new TV or Sky replacement, but more like the Apple TV, allowing you to stream music, videos and pictures or use services from the internet like Netflix on your TV rather than watching it on your computer screen. For £30, it’s a very worthy purchase unless you have a Smart TV, or internet connected TV Box, most of which allow streaming through DLNA.