Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Google’s Chromecast Worth a Look

 Many of us still look at Google as the de facto search engine allowing us to find information about just about any topic at any time.  The word “Google” has joined the likes of “Kleenex”, “Frigidaire” and “Jell-O.”   All of these brands have become collective words for an entire genre of products.    Of course Google is more than a search engine; their maps, translation services, email and now even self-driving cars make up only a few of their myriad products and services.  One product, Chromecast, is a relatively new offering that is worth your attention if you want an inexpensive way to expand the viewing options on your HDTV set.

I have written extensively about the various TV services available both free or with subscription on the internet.  Hulu, Hulu Plus, Netflix, AmazonTV all provide movies, network TV series, documentaries and special programming on demand and with a video quality that rivals cable, satellite and broadcast transmission.  In order to access this programming you must have an internet enabled TV or some add-on device.  Most of the devices to date have had a price of between $75 and $100.  Roku and Apple TV are among the most popular.  Some Blu Ray players and some game consoles can provide this access as well.

The Google Chromecast has a $35 price tag and can be a great inexpensive way to begin watching some internet delivered TV content on your regular TV.  A little larger than a standard thumb drive, Chromecast plugs into an open HDMI port on your TV.  Most new TVs have two or more HDMI ports but look and make sure you have one available since your cable box or satellite receiver also needs one.

Unlike the Roku or Apple TV devices, Chromecast does NOT come with a remote control.  You must have an iPhone or Android smartphone, a tablet such as the iPad, or use a laptop computer to control the Chromecast. Set up is easy.  Once connected to the TV a small power supply is plugged in the wall and the device will search for your home wifi.  There is no hard wire option for connecting to the internet so wifi is required.

Besides having access to one or more subscription TV services, you can display on your large screen TV YouTube videos and other content that you access through your smartphone, tablet or lap top.

For the price the Chromecast is worth a look.  I personally like the AppleTV as it is easier to set up and use but it does cost more than twice that of Chromecast.  You can get Chromecast at most big box stores and, of course, on line at Amazon and many other electronics websites.  It would make a great stocking stuffer.


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