I bought a Chromecast.
Image via The Verge
What’s a Chromecast? It’s like a USB dongle but with an HDMI port on the end [instead of a USB bit] which plugs into your TV and you can broadcast stuff to it, from Chrome. Chromecast, geddit?
Anyway, I’ve been umming and ah-ing about getting one for a good while now. When they were first announce, back in July 2013, I thought it was ace but I couldn’t really put my finger on why I’d need one. A few months later, in November, when I visited the ‘Google House‘, I spotted it again. And again my interest was piqued. This time I came so very close to purchasing one, and a good friend of mine even offered to send me one from the States.
Shipping fees happened, life happened… stuff happened.
Long story short, fast forward to February and I ended up picking one up off ebay for the grand total of £32.49, and I still didn’t know why I needed one.
If you read the feature list for Chromecast you can see that it supports a number of [mainly USA-based] media services. Out of those relevant to my market (the UK) you can see that it does Netflix. But I already have Netflix, on my PS4, my Xbox 360, and as an app built into my TV. Chromecast also does Youtube, but I have a YouTube app available to me in the same ways listed above. There is a third feature that’s available too, but this one’s the clincher:
Screen mirroring from Chrome.
With the installation of one simple Chrome extension, sharing your browser to the TV is again, one click away. Which means any video, not just YouTube or Netflix, any video can play on the big screen. Tonight, for example, I wanted to watch the amazing hour long interview with Bill Murray that had been doing the rounds. I really wanted to watch it on my TV, but it was on Hulu. For some reason, this normally-restricted-to-the-US piece of content was available to watch in my browser so I opened a new tab, casted to my TV, and carried on internetting.
It really is a great interview, you should watch it.
Ever since getting my Chromecast I’ve used it pretty much every day. This isn’t about features and services, this is simply about ease of use/access. For the 2-screen generation, browsing the web and watching TV at the same time go hand in hand. When that awesome video appears in your stream limiting content to a small-to-tiny screen is rubbish.
If you want to watch it, nay, share it properly and it’s literally one click, and your content appears on the TV. Easy as.
Chromecast is awesome.