Google announced a nifty little device called Chromecast the other day and this tiny device that is no bigger than a USB flash drive could change our relationships with our computers, tablets, phones, and televisions forever. If this works as advertised, Chromecast will allow anyone, with any device that runs the Chrome browser, send audio and video to their televisions easily and seemlessly. That doesn’t sound like much but it is actually quite a lot as it should totally break down the barrier between devices and the TV.
Sure there are set-top boxes that currently do something like this. The Apple TV is a prime example. But, the Apple TV is walled off and only plays well within the Apple universe. I can’t take my Surface Pro running Windows 8 and send a movie to an Apple TV. But there is even more to it than that. The Apple TV streams audio and video from the device to the Apple TV, which is connected to your TV’, whereas Chromecast does a hand-off of the audio and video.
From what I understand from watching the announcement, Chromecast has a subset version of the Chrome OS that runs Chromebooks (The laptop look-a-like with only a browser for its operating system). This allows Chromecast to stream audio and video from the web just like any other device with a web browser. When taking a video from your device (computer, tablet, or phone) and pushing it to Chromecast a “hand off” is performed. This means that your device will tell Chromecast where it can get the media you want it to play and then Chromecast will start playing it. Then there is some other secret sauce that will allow your device to communicate with Chromecast over your home WiFi network to control things like volume, pause, play, and other functions.
This to me is genius. There is no streaming between Chromecast and your device thereby having no effect on your device’s battery life. Not only that but because of this hand off of functions you can still do other things with your device while Chromecast is being controlled and it is playing your media.
I’m wondering if this will work with gaming too. If it does that could also have an effect on the new XBox, Playstation, and Wii. Chromecast could be used for 2 screen gaming in conjunction with a smartphone or tablet. Google showed some impressive games on the new Nexus 7 tablet and I could easily see how some of this could be pushed to Chromecast and a big screen. I don’t recall them making mention of anything with Chromecast and gaming but I thought it was an interesting idea.
The price, $35.00, and the convenience of device to TV media consumption should be a no-brainer IF it works as advertised. And if it does this should plunge a dagger into the heart of Roku, Apple TV, and any other set-top box. I should have mine in hand by the time this is posted. Maybe I’ll post a review after I’ve had time to play with it.
I hope it is what they say it is.