The time to get rid of clunky TV remote controls may finally be here: Chromecast, Google’s wireless video streaming device, was released on July 24, 2013, and it may change the way we watch TV.
Creative Commons image by John Bieler
What Is Chromecast?
Chromecast is a small online entertainment device that easily plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. It then connects wirelessly through your smartphone, tablet or laptop, and enables you to send TV shows, movies, videos, music, and photos to your TV. This wireless connectivity enables your device to function as the remote control. Through your device, you can select what you watch, and you can control playback options and volume. Having this remote capability is easy and convenient, especially since phones, tablets and laptops are much faster options than a clunky remote control.
It is this remote capability that separates Chromecast from its competition. Both Apple TV and Roku require the use of separate remote controls (although they both offer a separate remote app for wireless devices), and Chromecast offers its remote-free technology for only $35, much less than the competition.
What Are the Benefits of Chromecast?
Chromecast offers consumers several benefits. First, it is easy to use. Plug it into your TV, connect your streaming device to Wi-Fi and you’re ready to go! Second, it is convenient. It doesn’t require a separate remote control, but instead allows you to control programming through technologies you are familiar with (smartphone, tablet or laptop) and probably have in hand while watching TV anyhow.
Other benefits include the user-friendly viewing options Chromecast provides. Since Chromecast runs through your Wi-Fi, practically anything that runs on a browser is accessible through Chromecast. This technology works with Android, Mac and Windows technologies, which is great for almost all users.
At only $35, this is one new technology that is not cost-prohibitive.
Are There Limitations to Chromecast?
Despite all the features of Chromecast, some of the limitations are problematic. Reports suggest Chromecast is easy to use, but the device requires fast and strong Wi-Fi signals for optimal connection. Furthermore, users may be frustrated with what they are able to stream, since licensing agreements may prohibit some TV shows from playing. Users outside the U.S. may also be disappointed, since currently Chromecast is supported only in the U.S.
Should You Buy Chromecast?
Chromecast has been well-received. It has earned four out of five stars in more than 500 user reviews on Amazon, and most tech websites have given it overall favorable reviews. It is a great option for people who enjoy using the latest technology and don’t like the hassle of navigating TV options through a remote control.
Chromecast is part of the overall transition to streaming television. Technology such as Chromecast can really change the way we consume programming because it is exceedingly user-friendly. It is not dependent on cable or network scheduling, but enables users to watch what they want to watch, when they want to watch it. It turns televisions into something you direct yourself.
This is great technology, if you can find it. Currently, Chromecast is sold out on the Amazon, Best Buy and Google Play Web sites. Orders are estimated to take as long as three months to fulfill, so don’t get rid of your old remote just yet.
Joe Barrington is a mobile tech designer and dad originally from Long Island.