Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

ChromeCast Experiences

I received my ChromeCast a couple of weeks ago wanted to pass along a couple of my experiences with it. If you are not familiar with ChromeCast is an entry by Google into the streaming entertainment market where a low cost ($35) HDMI device plugs directly into your television/monitor and either a USB or wall socket for power. The ChromeCast itself joins your wifi network and then can receive a stream from the Internet (Netflix and YouTube currently supported) or via a device such as a laptop that has the ChromeCast app/browser plugin installed. Once the laptop/device initiates the stream it can go directly to the ChromeCast and the laptop is not required to proxy the stream. I’ve had the opportunity to use it several times with mostly ok experiences and one definite negative experience. In the negative case I took it with me on a two night stay in a hotel recently. The hotel tv had an available HDMI port but their wifi network required a ‘terms and conditions’ page acceptance to join. The ChromeCast has no means of doing this (no browser for example) so it was not able to join the hotel network making it completely useless. I always try to bring along an Apple Airport Express wifi router with me so that I can provide my own pre-configured wifi but this hotel did not have wired room connections so I was unable to use the Express. The ‘ok’ experiences were at home. In one case I was viewing a Netflix movie but that pause twice to rebuffer while watching a movie. Not an exceptionally bad thing but I rarely have that issue with my Apple TV (an excellent device). The other aggravation was that to intentionally pause the movie I had to wake up my MacBook Pro (another excellent device) to get to the UI because the ChromeCast does not come with a remote control. In the second case I am ‘casting’ a tab from my Chrome browser onto my tv which is working well. Using it for presentations onto a monitor/TV is competitive with how I’ve used my AppleTV in the past. Someone going to give a presentation can take their own wifi router in addition to an AppleTV or ChromeCast to be relatively self-sufficient (other than power and a projection device). All-in-all I would recommend the ChromeCast but I still prefer my AppleTV/AirPlay combination due their versatility for both personal and business use. I’m guessing that the rapid uptake on the ChromeCast will bring a number of new app offerings in the very near future so I’m sure it will continue to be around.