Google announced the Chromecast back on July 24th and unlike some other device announcements, these became available for purchase that same day. Given a curiosity about the new platform and the low price point and Chromecast seemed like an easy purchase for many. The Chromecast dongle availability quickly dwindled and sale prices jumped on sites such as eBay. The question we have though; Will the Chromecast excitement last or will this be another quickly passing fad.
First things first, Google launched the Chromecast with the promise of it being "the easiest way to enjoy online video and music on your TV." Having picked up a Chromecast shortly after the launch announcement, we have now spent just over a week with the device. As such we have learned that Google was correct -- Chromecast was very easy to set up and Chromecast is very easy to use.
Setting up Chromecast
On the topic of setting things up. We can say that we went from the picking the box off the front porch (where it was dropped by UPS) to streaming a video in roughly 5 minutes time. Seriously, it was that quick and easy. Once unboxed it is a matter of plugging things in. This means HDMI into your television and USB out to power. And for those worried about the HDMI ports on the back or side of their television, rest assured in knowing that Google includes a short extension cable.
Once plugged in you switch your television to the correct input and then fire up the Chromecast app (on your Android device or computer) and follow the necessary steps. This is nothing more than connecting the Chromecast to your WiFi connection. And again, worry not as the passcode for your WiFi network is added easily using the mobile and/or computer app (as opposed to on the television set).
Basically, that is it. Come to think of it, typing these few paragraphs probably took just as long as the Chromecast setup process.
From here this is where things get even more exciting because using Chromecast is just as easy as setting it up. Remember that part about having to switch your television to the correct input during the setup process? Well, that can now be forgotten with Chromecast because moving forward it does that switch automatically.
For now Chromecast works with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play content and Chrome. As we have seen though, other services have come forward with talk of support. Plus, we also have a few interesting Chromecast streaming apps in the works from Koush. But back to using Chromecast. Basically you launch what you want on your device and then send it to Chromecast.
This means launching the app (say, Netflix), picking the movie or show you want to stream and starting it as you always would on a tablet or smartphone. The difference here is that once a Chromecast has been setup you will be presented with the option to watch it on "this device" or on the Chromecast. Another point that suggests just how simple this is to use -- once you setup Chromecast using one device, any other device in the house will instantly recognize it. Simply put, these is nothing to install on your device once Chromecast has been setup on your television.
As we have come to find, Chromecast was easy to setup and is easy to use. These two things combined with the $35 price point and it seems like you cannot really go wrong with a purchase. Well, that is assuming you are looking to stream these few supported items to a television. Speaking personally, we placed this in a bedroom, a location that we had been already considering adding a Netflix capable device. That $35 price point made for a reasonable risk to take. To further that, it seems to have proven a good risk and Chromecast has been officially welcomed in this house.
Looking forward though, we do question where this will all go. We are more than happy with Chromecast here and we would feel comfortable enough in recommending it to others, but we do have to wonder if this initial excitement is more about a low price point on something that came from Google, or due to it being a gadget that people believe will change and/or improve the television experience.
As much as we hate to say it, we suspect this may be the former. Initial excitement due to a low price point and launch date hype. Then again, this is still early days and it appears additional support will be coming in the not too distant future. Plus, as much as we like to look to the future to see what a device may be capable of with future updates, we have to remember that device purchases should be based on what they are capable of doing now, not down the road.
Speaking of updates, Google has already released the first, which does given some hope for the future.