Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chromecast!

When Google announced the Chromecast a few days ago, at first I shrugged it off as "interesting, but whatever".
But then when I realized I could get it from Amazon with free Prime Shipping, and it came with 3 free months of Netflix even for existing customers, (sorry, the Netflix offer expired after they realized how broken it was) I just couldn't resist! A grand effective total of $11. I've paid more for stupider things.

So, because of Prime Shipping, it arrived only 2 days later.

Setup was simple. I did it from the Android app; it sets up an ad-hoc wifi network so that you can enter the real wifi credentials, and then you are ready for business.

And, for what it is, it does what it does well.
I installed the Android app, the Windows app, and the Chrome extension (on both my PC and my wife's Mac)
I was able to stream youtube from both my phone and both PCs with no problem.
For Netflix, the first time I tried, Silverlight crashed. But the second time it was just fine.
For "tab casting", I had some trouble, but it turned out that it doesn't work so well with AMD Switchable Graphics, which is exactly what I have in my primary laptop. I get mixed results there, but it does work with Chrome on the Macbook. I'll just have to sit tight and wait for them to fix that other bug.

Tab Casting is pretty interesting. The number one reason is -- at least for now -- free Hulu works! Even in Full Screen!
So we can project Hulu videos -- or videos from any site that doesn't have an "app" interface for the Chromecast -- onto the TV with the greatest of ease.
For Hulu specifically, I suspect that will be getting blocked as soon as they figure out how.

What I haven't tried yet is playing a local video file in a tab and pushing it to the Chromecast. This allegedly works...

Now the downsides:
Other than the bugs, which I hope are getting worked on, and the limited number of things that work with it outside of the Chrome browser..
1) It isn't really easily controllable.  It's not for everyone. You still need a PC or smartphone to control the content, and especially with broadcasting a tab, it means controlling it from the actual webpage on your screen. This isn't as easy for Netflix as using the PS3 remote, which my 5-year-old can do by himself.

2) Video quality -- well, this could be psychological, but we noticed that some videos seemed to be lower quality.  That being said, the "tabcasting" feature caps at 720p so that might have something to do with it, but it was even the case with Youtube. It's too early to tell whether that was just a matter of the videos we chose, or a real issue.

That's all I can really say so far.
Do I recommend it for nerds? Sure.
Will I use it every day? Probably not.
Do I recommend it for normal people, over some other streaming box?  Maybe not until more content is directly supported. Even though it's a mere $35, I think you might still be better off spending more money on something easier to use.



1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I really hope they fix that bug with Switchable Graphics and tabcasting soon... It really is a neat little feature when it works. At least I have another computer for it to work on for now...

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