Time has named the Google Chromecast their 2013 Gadget of the Year. I’m sure Google was honored by the acknowledgement, but I have a feeling the rest of the world went “Google what? What on earth is that?” With all the various and assorted gizmos out there, what makes this one so special? Well, let me tell you what it is, and let me tell you what it isn’t.
First, what it is. The Google Chromecast is basically a media streamer. You just went “so”, didn’t you? OK, it’s a $35 media streamer that connects to one of your TV’s HDMI ports and allows you to stream certain content from your tablet or phone to your television. So lets say you’re watching a Beyonce’ video on your tablet on YouTube, and you want the rest of the room to put a ring on it or something. On the YouTube app on the tablet there’s an icon you click on to send your content to whatever Chromecast is connected to your network, and boom … now everyone is dancing. Cool, right? YouTube, Google Movies and Music, Netflix and a few other apps can send content to ANY Chromecast you have connected to your network. And get this; if you’re using the Chrome browser on your computer, you can send whatever you’re looking at IN THE BROWSER to the Chromecast. Of course, some things work better than others, but I haven’t ran into anything that didn’t stream to the Chromecast yet. You knew I had one, right? Well, like I said its $35. And that’s what makes it so cool … for that amount of money you get a pretty nifty streaming device. But it isn’t perfect.
What it isn’t (yet) is a replacement for something like an Apple TV, an Xbox or a Roku box. It doesn’t have a remote control or any type of “interface”, per se. You have to control what’s being streamed with a PC, tablet or phone. That’s a good and a bad thing; good that there’s one less remote to worry about, bad that you need to keep your phone around (as if you didn’t already). Also, unlike the Apple TV and Roku, there aren’t a lot of different options of what you can stream, like Hulu, Amazon, Disney, etc. Those apps are on those devices, whereas Chromecast is at the mercy of whatever applications the developers put the Chromecast “Cast” button on, and right now there aren’t that many. The Roku box costs a little more, but you get more for it.
Nevertheless, the Chromecast has HUGE potential if Google keeps developing it, and they get different content providers on board. I use mine all the time, especially for YouTube. And again … it’s $35. Stocking stuffer for that person who has everything? Sure, why not. And then point them to this post to explain to them why they shouldn’t look for the gift receipt to take it back …
Talk to you soon!