Welcome to the digital revolution.
In late April, Google released a digital media player on the Australian market that may prove a real game changer for the world of home entertainment. Say hello to Chromecast.
Despite the media player being available overseas for quite some time, as usual, Australia has been lagging behind. While we’re still playing catch-up with the Chromecast’s features and services, this nifty little device still has the potential to reinvent that way we all watch TV.
What Is It?
Chromecast is an HDMI dongle media player that plugs directly into your HD TV and connects wirelessly to your home WiFi network. Simple.
What Does It Do?
Chromecast allows you to wirelessly stream digital content from any compatible device, such as a desktop or laptop computer, or any Android or iOS-powered phone or tablet, via web and mobile apps.
Why We Love It?
Chromecast effectively converts a regular HD TV into a Smart TV. Well, almost.
Here’s how. Many Smart TVs feature built-in apps from folks like YouTube, iView and Bigpond, allowing you to stream content from their online services and make your life complete.
Add tablet PC and smartphone integration and BAM! You can surf channels and apps from the palm of your hand, until the sun goes supernova.
But by inserting a Chromecast (RRP$49) into any HD TV’s HDMI port, you can accomplish most of these media streaming feats for fraction of what it would cost to upgrade to ‘Smart’ status. Now that’s a spicy meatball.
Plug And Play
Setting up this device really is a piece of cake. Plug it into your TV’s HDMI port, log on to Google’s Chromecast page to activate it, then choose your media source and go for it.
Naturally, the most seamless method of streaming is via Google Play; either from a desktop or laptop PC, or an Android or iOS device. Simply browse the many movies and TV series on offer, make your selection and send it to play on your Chromecast.
If you’re a subscriber to online media streaming services, like Ezyflix, you can now send content directly to your Chromecast-fitted HD TV, instead of watching it on your PC or tablet. Compatibility will be available soon for Quickflix, Foxtel’s Presto and ABC iView.
But if you think that’s enough functionality from the folks at Google, hold onto you hat. Add the extension, Cast, to your PC’s Chrome browser, and Chromecast will mirror any content playing in your current browser tab. Yes, it’s that simple.
Another bonus is portability. If you have more than one HD TV in your house, watching your movies and TV shows on another TV is as simple as re-plugging in the Chromecast. Want to access your Foxtel Presto subscription on a friend’s TV? Same idea.
While it will never replace a full-featured Smart TV, the Chromecast is a cost-effective alternative to upgrading, for those purely wanting to beef up their media streaming capabilities.
Media streaming in Australia has leapt dramatically in the last 12 months. Quickflix has reported a 24 per cent increase in streaming over this period, with more than half of that content going to Smart TVs, which will increase even further with the arrival of Chromecast.
Packing prestige TV series like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Downton Abbey, Ray Donovan and more, Australians are now primed and ready to binge watch to their heart’s content.
Add thousands of HD movies between them all – Quickflix, Ezyflix, Foxtel and Google – and you get a clear picture of how this little ol’ dongle is going to change a lot of people’s lives.
A few things to remember: If the source material you’re casting is not HD, don’t expect the Chromecast to convert it to high definition splendour; it’s merely the messenger.
Most ISPs should be fine to stream SD media, but before you invest, check your ISP’s speed to ensure your internet connection is capable of streaming HD content.
Go to chromecast.com/apps to see the range of compatible applications available. At present, not all services are available in Australia, but non-geo specific services, like Google Play et al, are ready and waiting for you. Happy casting!
Will you find a use for Chromecast in your TV viewing? Leave a comment below.