Product Review: Google Chromecast

chromecast device

Update: Since this post was written, several apps have been added to Chromecast, making it more appealing. Mine also stopped working completely about a year after this was written.

It’s women’s roller derby divisionals, that magical time of year when every weekend for a month my computer is hooked up to the TV 24/7. And while I love watching the amazing teams that make it to divisionals every year, I do miss having my computer on the weekend. I have blogging (ok, Pinteresting and Tumbling) to do! So when I learned about Google’s new product the Chromecast, I ordered one.

What is Chromecast?

Chromecast is a $35 dongle that plugs into the HDMI and USB ports on your TV and streams video from your computer,iOS device, or Android device to your TV. If you don’t have a spare USB port, you can also plug it into the wall. The USB is just a power source. Now, first of all, I didn’t think it was very clear that this would be plugging into your HDMI port when I bought my Chromecast. Granted, I read the pretty splash page and that was it. But I saw the picture of the device and thought “cool. USB.” It’s not really spelled out until you get to the storefront of wherever you’re buying the device from. I should have read more than the splash page, and it was my own mistake, but I’m throwing it out there in case you also tend to not read carefully.

Is Chromecast Easy to Setup?

Chromecast is as easy to set up as they claim. Plug it in. Switch to the input. Enter the WiFi password. Done. Get the plug-in for Chrome (or the app you wish to stream from) and you’re golden. It runs on WiFi so proximity isn’t an issue like it would be for Bluetooth.

Chromecast Plugged In

This is how the Chromecast connects to your TV.

Does it Work?

Chromecast works well enough. There’s a slight delay getting from the device to the TV, but not horribly so. However, I found that picture quality was lacking. I’d normally blame my WiFi, but I could see on the device it was something happening between it and the TV. It was fine for watching most the games, but when Naptown started playing we switched back to the traditional HDMI cable. We cared about the game too much to watch with lesser quality.

Should You Buy One?

The Chromecast isn’t a bad device. And it’s only $35, so it’s definitely low risk. But if you have a Roku, game console, smart TV, or smart blu-ray player. This really isn’t something you need. Even less than half the price of the dual band wireless model of the Roku, it’s hard to recommend the Chromecast over the Roku for your primary TV. The Roku just does so much more natively. The only native apps for Chromecast are Google Play, Netflix, and YouTube. If those are the apps you most frequently use than the Chromecast is a great option. Also, since you can stream from a browser you can stream full Hulu Plus (according to blogs GigaOm, I don’t have Hulu Plus and already used my free trial so I can’t test it).

But if you want things like Amazon On Demand, HBO Go, Spotify, or Pandora you’re better off picking up a Roku (although Roku does not have Google Play or YouTube). The image quality is better, and the experience just feels better.

I bought a Chromecast myself for this review.

3 / 5 stars     
3 Responses to “Product Review: Google Chromecast”
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