Friday, July 31, 2015

An updated review of Chromecast

In months past, I've had some kind and not so kind words for Chromecast. But that was before I had a OnePlus phone with the latest operating system update that I got a few months ago. Oddly, the OnePlus works better than the Nexus 4 I had before.

For the readers who are not familiar with Chromecast, let me give you a quick summary. Chromecast is an HDMI dongle that you connect to your TV. It looks like just another jump drive, but bigger. And it doesn't fit in any USB drive. It fits in any HDMI video port on your TV. It literally turns any TV into a very smart TV. It is, now that I think about it, a smart TV killer.

There is a lot to like about Chromecast when it works. It's portable, but it does need a power supply to work. It comes with a USB cable that you can plug it into the TV for power, but then it only has power when you turn the TV on. I like to plug it into a nearby wall socket for power to ensure that it's always on. I found that it works better with wall power as it seems to have more power to work with for network access.

There is a huge ecosystem for Chromecast and the applications are there to prove it. With the right application, you can cast just about anything to your TV. From pictures you took with your phone, to YouTube to Netflix. Most content applications nowadays will cast to your Chromecast.

If you're not in the mood for video or pictures, you can cast audio to your Chromecast, too. Google Play, TuneIn, Pandora, Spotify and even SoundCloud will cast to your Chromecast and put the sound to your TV. It is amazing what can be done with Chromecast and it's still early days.

But the best part is this. When I travel, I can take the Chromecast with me. Then instead of watching the hotel cable system, I can watch Netflix or YouTube on the TV there. I can play the music I want to play there. All over the wifi system provided by the hotel.

When I'm visiting family and friends and want to catch up on pictures, I can plug the Chromecast into the TV in the living room. Then I can play videos or show pictures without a slide projector. Oh, wait. I'm showing my years. Does anyone even know what a slide projector is, anymore? Of course, Chromecast only works if there is wifi router in the house.

Back at home, I still use the Chromecast. My wife plays Netflix and YouTube on the TV for the kids by casting straight from a computer to the TV. I like to use my phone to cast the same content to the TV. Sometimes I show pictures to friends and family when visiting.

Things are so much better now with the Chromecast. In the past, I had to constantly fiddle with everything just to get it going. I'd reboot the router, reboot my phone, reboot the Chromecast. Back then it might take 15-20 minutes just to get the Chromecast going. By then, everyone else has moved on. I did notice that streaming from the computer worked better than streaming from my phone, so it must have been the phone that was causing all the problems with the Chromecast.

I'm pretty sure there was an update on my phone that did the trick. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but it was probably when I got the update to CyanogenMod 12. Perhaps there was an update on the Chromecast, too. All I know is that now it works and it works great.

Chromecast has totally changed my perspective on content whether it be audio, video or pictures. Chromecast has mobilized my content so that I can take it with me, anywhere. It might just be a paradigm shift for content, since Apple is trying to do the same thing. I'm just glad I'm around to enjoy it with my family and friends.
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