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Google’s Chromecast: Make Your TV Smart

Google’s Chromecast is marketed as “the easiest way to enjoy online video and music on your TV.” So the question is: is it?

Many people today don’t own the new smart TVs that Sony, Panasonic and LG are putting out, so Google came up with a brilliant idea. Most TVs, smart or not, do come with HDMI ports, so Google harnessed the opportunity and made the Chromecast device. Chromecast is small, easy to set up, and fairly easy to use. It looks like a rounded USB Flash Drive, two inches of black plastic, but it harnesses a whole lot more awesome. Inside, it has a Marvell SoC, a combination Bluetooth/FM/802.11 b/g/n WiFi radio, 2GB of storage and 512MB of SDRAM. All you do is plug it in; one end into its USB cable and the other into your TV’s HDMI ports. Then, connect the cable to a power adapter or TV’s USB port, pick the right TV input and connect to the WiFi to install, and you’re set to go. Movies come up in a matter of seconds, and while one video is playing, you can search for another, use apps, or put it into standby mode.


Is Chromecast The Easiest Way To Enjoy Online Media?

Chromecast basically turns normal TVs into “Smart” TVs; they are able to access web-based content. One can stream videos from Google Play, Netflix or YouTube right onto their television, or, if preferred, a user can mirror the content on any open tab in a Google Chrome browser using the casting feature. It’s even going to get Pandora (in case you want your music on your TV I guess…maybe for the better speakers?). Chromecast’s remote controller: your Android or Apple phones or tablets, Windows or Mac computers… etc. Google’s TV advancing device connects straight through home Wi-Fi networks and you can shift control from phone to tablet to someone else’s phone. Rishi Chandra, a director of product management at Google, explained, “You’re not tied to any specific device.” So yes, everyone in the house can share the remote.

Google is not the first to have this idea; Plair, Roku 3 and Apple TV and other devices are almost identical in function. However, Google’s prowess makes it’s toy much more sellable. Content providers and developers have strong relationships with technology power Google, and thus will be adding the GoogleCast technology to their new apps. Google’s also released a Chromecast software kit for developers, so other apps can join the party. Right now, it only has three applications: YouTube, Netflix and Google Play Movies., but surely, more are on the way. And of course, there’s that sticky price issue. Chromecast costs about a third of the price of the others – being only $35. No, it doesn’t play iTunes, you’ll have to buy from Google Play.

So far, it’s been quite successful. There’s been a giant rush to buy the Chromecast, so big, that Google actually had to cancel its three-month Netflix promotion. It’s being sold on and at Best Buy, but the shortage of product means it could be quite a while before it arrives.

It will be slightly invasive, for those of you who are worried about Big Brother knowing everything about you. Chromecast will provide Google with information on everything a user is watching and what device they are using to watch it. This will allow Google to charge ad buyers even more for ads, rather than taking it from the customer, since Google knows where people are going to see the Ads most. So yes, it only costs $35, but you’re also volunteering for a little experiment as well, as Google will be watching you. Well, what you watch. Hopefully, not you.

So all in all, it seems like it’s going to stay pretty successful. David Kirkpatrick, Count Techonomy CEO, is a believer in Chromecast: “I think Google is progressively moving forward to play a bigger role in all of our media consumption.” Many reviews compliment it’s ability; Engadget “wholeheartedly recommend[ed it]” and stated, “it works well” and although it may not be as “fully featured as some of it’s competitors” it does “provide a lot for just$ 35, and it’s a platform that likely to improve dramatically as more apps start to support the technology.” So if you’re interested, go ahead, help out your TV and up its education with a Chromecast.