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July 24th 2013 2:00 pm

What do you think about Google's Chromecast? Did you buy one?

At today's special Google event, the Chromecast was announced. The small HDMI dongle plugs into your TV and allows you to "cast" content from your phone, tablet, or computer to your TV. If your TV is CEC-enabled (en.wikipedia.org­/wiki­/Consumer­_Electronics­_Control...), it will even turn your TV on and automatically change inputs.

This is being pretty heavily interpreted as Google's Airplay competitor, and it seems to be far better than what Google tried to offer with the Nexus Q last year. It's on sale now for $35 (https:­/­/play.google.com­/store­/devices­/details­?id­=c...), and people seem to be clamoring for them already.

What do you think about Google's new TV-centric offering? Did you buy one? Will you buy one? Let us know below!

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39 replies
Dignan17

Here's the thing: I don't want a competitor to Airplay if, like Airplay, it's going to be proprietary to one platform. I want a standard that will work with my Android phone AND my wife's iPhone. Sadly, there IS a standard, but nobody seems to want to really support DLNA in any sort of cross-platform way.

I'd also have liked to see them release an audio-only version of this product. I'd like something that I can connect to a set of speakers with a headphone jack. I'd put them around the house and suddenly have a whole-home audio system.

For what this does, it's pretty nice. At the moment, though, I have a Google TV which appears to be getting the Chromecast update, so that's good.
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groovechicken

+1 for the connected speakers suggestion. I am making that happen in my house with an Aluratek Bluetooth receiver that I move around as needed, but a small wifi dongle that sits between the speakers and the input cables would be a lot more convenient.
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nitehawk

DLNA is too slow and apparently not sexy for Google and Apple to give a shit about. Sony is perfectly happy with it and I've used it with my PS3, but it's slow and doesn't work real well with HD content so....can you blame Google and Apple?
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Dignan17

I would argue that DLNA isn't slow - most peoples' home networks are slow :)
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kingofkats

That may be true, Dignan17, but I have a hardwired gigabit Ethernet home network, and DLNA still inhales whenever I try it.
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kingofkats

If you already own a Google TV, this can only be good -- fulfilling a promise that Google made two or three years ago, namely that someday you'd be able to switch on your TV, put down your phone,and pick up exactly where you left off.

I experimented with DLNA a while back and was very dissatisfied with its ability to pause, fast forward and rewind from your easy chair. It could be that I was using a limited version of DLNA, but it left me cold. What I'd love to see is an Android version of AirPlay -- or heck, a licensed version of AirPlay like DoubleTwist and Twonky use.

But I'm practical. I'll use Chromecast, much as it creeps me out, IF it delivers a seamless device-to-AVR-and-TV experience.( I add AVR because music is even more important to me than video.) If it doesn't, to heck with it. Roku and Apple TV aren't perfect, but at least I know they're the product; with Chromecast, if course,the product is me.
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groovechicken

I was sort of interested until I read that it is up to the app developer to add support in their apps. You can bet your bottom dollar the NFL won't be putting support for this in the Game Rewind app. I will have to see how much support is available among the apps I use before I can lean one way or the other. Most of what I would use this for either already has an app on Roku or won't ever have an app on either (such as NFL Game Rewind), so I can't say that I have a need for it right now.
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frankspin

That is thing as well. I was hoping for something not quite GoogleTV, but perhaps a little featured packed. i was really hoping this was going to be a very basic and striped down device to compete with the AppleTV. The idea of needing to use a phone or tablet as the main source of streaming content doesn't jive with me, especially if said service doesn't work with it.
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Comcastrated

More are going to jump on board. Redbox, Vimeo, HBO Go, and Plex...
m.intomobile.com­/2013­/07­/29­/redbox­-instant­-vimeo­-a...
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Dignan17

I'm not sure what else Google can do about it. This is how it works on iOS too. The developers have to make their app Airplay-compatible.
If it upsets you, you could try one of the Miracast adapters that can do screen mirroring. Then every app is "castable."
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ssstraub

That's not how it works on iOS because the worst case is you can mirror the whole device since AirPlay is integrated at the OS-level instead of the app level.
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kingofkats

This is a point that I've yelled into the screen about when misrepresented on podcasts and print reviews. Worst case, you can always screen mirror via Airplay. Earlier implementations didn't allow this, but the mature product is pretty sweet. Wouldn't be surprised to see Chromecast baked into future Android releases, as Chrome and Android converge.
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groovechicken

Does that also carry audio and keep it in sync?
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frankspin

Well it's not streaming from the phone to the device, it's sending a URL. Think of it as Chrome to Phone, but it's Phone/Tablet/Browser tab to Chromecast.
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groovechicken

i was referring to Miracast, which he mentioned. I have never looked into it, but if it is only a screencast with no audio, that doesn't help a lot.
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Brandon

Miracast definitely supports audio (LPCM at minimum) en.wikipedia.org­/wiki­/Miracast
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kingofkats

I have been waiting for Miracast to mature for soooo many moons.
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kingofkats

Frankspin, that's a terrific analogy. Too many folks imagine this as a connector from your phone to your TV when it's actually an always-on link between your TV and Google's servers.
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Dignan17

I'm pretty sure Miracast supports audio too. I can't vouch for how well the technology works, though. I've mostly only seen middling reviews for the available products...
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peterto

I just got mine and I think the device is pretty interesting. I did some small experiments with it to test what it can do, if you need a network connection to play content or if it actually mirrored what you had in your chrome tab.

It looks like your chromecast and your laptop definitely need to be on the same network, but a network connection is not required. I tested this out, but unplugging my cable modem and dragging an H.264 video I downloaded into a chrome tab (so anything chrome can play, the chromecast can play? Don't have enough different formats of content to actually test properly) and hitting the cast button and it works, so at the very least, you don't need an internet connection and it doesn't seem to need upload the content your playing somewhere to then play it back (I'm not 100% sure it still doesn't send some type of information to some google server somewhere, didn't really have time to install a networking capture app to get this info, but you do have the option to not send usage information during setup with the setup app). There is a slight delay when you hit cast to it actually playing, maybe a second or two. Content still plays on your browser tab, but audio turns off, while playing on your chromecast connected TV. You can view webpages, both offline and on the internet, there's also a slight delay in registering mousing and dragging gestures. I tried Netflix, Youtube, and the Xfinity comcast site and they all see to broadcast fine from the chrome browser.

It reminds me of PLAiR (sucks to be these guys) a lot:

home.plair.com/

Also, it looks like it's based on the DIAL protocol that's been jointly maintained and developed by Netflix and Google:

www.dial­-multiscreen.org­/home

Source: https:­/­/plus.google.com­/117916055521642810655­/post...

Overall, I think it's a neat little device, that would be cool for travel and trips and when you just want to watch something not on your laptop, but on a bigger screen. This could also be cool for presenations and such.

If anyone has any questions, I'll try to answer them.
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kingofkats

Peterto, this would fly in the face of many of my pessimistic assumptions. If I'm reading you right, (a) it can mirror data without phoning home to Google's servers and (b) you can turn off the data flow to Google when setting up if at no other time. Can you confirm both statements? Thanks!
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peterto

A) Yes, you can mirror the content without actually being connected to the internet.
B) I don't think this is possible to do during setup, but I'm not 100% sure, I'd have to try the setup again without a network connection. During setup, I downloaded an app on my computer and did the configuration (entering a 4 character code displayed on the screen and entering in the WiFi information of my network) from there, but from there, it doesn't look like you absolutely need an active internet connection to use the chromecast if all you want to do is send local videos/audio to the chromecast.
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kingofkats

So it must have two modes, and firmware that includes Chrome OS at very least. Fascinating when you think about future Smart TVs. A Chromecast Chrome OS widget would be so easy to include.
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drkokandy

I bought one immediately. I immediately thought it would be the clouds and the sky and everything wonderful - but I've seen a few things in reviews so far which have since dampened my enthusiasm.

But still, I think this is really interesting, and since it's running a Chrome OS-based thing, it could get only better. The tab-syncing thing is what makes me most interested, because Google has been able to get some really spectacular things going on in Chrome tabs. Technologies like OpenGL and WebRTC are possible in Chrome tabs.

Put into perspective, even if it's not quite as good as I initially hoped, and even if it doesn't get better, at least I'll get to watch 3 months of Netflix for free on a device that costs a little more than half the cheapest Roku. It should still be able to do some pretty cool things for an incredibly cheap price.
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TgD

I would have preferred screen mirroring, then I would seriously consider one.

But I don't think it will be in my country anytime soon, so I won't be buying one

EDIT:
Turning on the TV is a cool trick, I am not sure how thats accomplished, but I am 100% sure it can't turn on my home theater sound system.
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frankspin

It turns it on/off via HDMI-CEC
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TgD

Interesting. I believe my Panasonic TV would have Viera Link (Apparently their name for HDMI-CEC) but my audio system is completely separate through optical. So no luck there
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AdamWillis

I have a Sony TV with a Sony sound bar. TV comes on, so does the sound bar automatically. Hopefully after getting my Chromecast it will work just the same.
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Dignan17

You can do screen mirroring with a number of Miracast devices already. That was announced in the previous Android release.
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joelhamill

I tried to buy one when I saw what it was and how much it cost but, Google had already sold out by 11 am Pacific.

I like the idea of mirroring (not really mirroring) your web browser, phone or tablet to your TV. I like that the chromecast app is an app and not part of the Android system. I like that developers can choose to enable if they want.

I don't like that this is being compared to Apple TV because it obviously is not; that would be Google TV.

If you watch anything in a browser and you want that on your TV instead of your computer or laptop or phone or tablet then this product should appeal to you. Just because it is not a full fledged app running Apple TV competitor doesn't mean that it's not a great, cheap product.
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discwog

I bought one during the Chromecast media event. At that price it is worth a try. I'll let you know my opinion once it comes early next week.
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brett

I think for $35, I am just going to get one and try it out. My girlfriend and I buy or rent enough movies from the Play Store to warrant the purchase. If I don't like it, then oh well. I agree with Dignan17 that it's something that really should be cross platform, but the price is the determining factor for me.
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nitehawk

I will buy one as soon as they are no sold out online.

I see this as finally being the reason the Cupertino kids drop the price of the Apple TV. With Roku LT being on the market at $50 for this long I guess we needed something else to show just how overpriced the Apple TV device really is.
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kingofkats

I don't think $99 is bad at all when you consider what you're getting; clearly Roku and Apple are offering better hardware. I just wish Apple would put out an SD for their puck, and perhaps now they will. The click is ticking.
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kingofkats

Call me prehistorically private but for me this is the most expensive TV device on the market, once you factor in how much of your remaining privacy it siphons away from you. AirPlay turns my iPhone or Mc into an extra video input for my AVR. Chromecast relays all my plays, skips, replays and so forth THROUGH GOOGLE'S SERVERS and into their databanks, where my life is retained as currency to be traded on the open market or confiscated by the government. Am I the only one who gets creeped out by this? Google and Amazon are giving devices away at cost in return for all your most private moments. I frankly think the Apple TV is cheap enough at $99 -- or if you'd rather pay $60, Roku's a fine device too. But I've got a problem with Google using its search monopoly to enter and dominate another new market, with the professed intent of harvesting whatever data they don't already own, while putting Roku -- a fantastic little startup who basically invented the smart-TV-in-a-puck -- out of business.

Oh, I'll buy a Chromecast in the hope that someday it'll let me play podcasts from my HTC One through my Denon AVR and Panasonic plasma. ButI've got a hunch it won't work any better than the Airplay module on DoubleTwist. Until the day I'm proven Wrong, color me Grumpy, Suspicious and Privacy-Loving.
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kingofkats

Has ANYONE tried running this device through an AVR rather than just attaching I to the TV? That's how I would want to run It if I ever get one. Thanks.
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Brandon

Yes. It works fine with HDMI receivers.
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kingofkats

In that case I'll probably try it out, thanks!
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AnimeCwboy

I LOVE this thing! I've switched to using it completely from both my Roku and PS3. While I wish I have more options to use on my phone rather than having to leave my computer on to switch and choose videos on services like Hulu and Amazon Prime. I'm happy to deal with than more than using Roku's older interface or allowing the PS3 to eat up my power bill to watch movies. The ability to watch UV Movies from Flixster on my TV, or even Twitch, Livestream, Ustream, etc. with minimal setup is awesome. I'd love to see the Chrome extention find a home on the Android version to make up for the wait of Google releasing the SDK for Googlecast.
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