- Editor's Rating
- It's cheap
- It works across Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android
- Chrome Browser mirroring simple and effective
- Limited at launch
- Still a bit buggy
- Needs some additional security features
Quick TakeIt's still buggy and limited, but it's only $35. If you have the cash to spare, why not buy a Chromecast?
It’s long been possible to wirelessly mirror your tablet, laptop, or smartphone content and display on an HDTV, but it’s never been easy, and always with unnecessary restrictions. Apple Airplay presents the simplest option, but requires an Apple TV unit, and only works with the iPad and other Apple products. Samsung, Sony, and others offer their own inelegant solutions, each with stark limitations and compromises.
In fact, the best way to stream content from a laptop or mobile device to an HDTV is over an HDMI, Apple Digital AV, or HDMI MHL to USB adapter. But it’s 2013, and we don’t want no stinking wires, especially when it comes to accessing the content for which we’ve already paid good money.
Enter Google Chromecast. For a mere $35, this HDMI- and Wi-Fi-enabled dongle promises to deliver the simplest content streaming to an HDTV. It works across platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac, and only requires a Wi-Fi network and TV with an HDMI input.
Build & Design
The Chromecast dongle itself measures about 3-inches long by 1.5-inches at its widest point. The male end of an HDMI rests on one end, while an LED indicator light, small button, and microUSB input reside on the other. It’s light, about .07 pounds, with a sturdy plastic build, but it will jut out from any HDTV input more so than most cables and adapters. For those tight on space or in need of flexibility, the Chromecast ships with a short HDMI extender. It also ships with a micro-to-full-sized USB cable, and power adapter.
The Chromecast requires power, as it has no battery. That comes from either a USB input on the TV or outlet. The included USB cable is only 5-feet long, so finding an available outlet could be an issue. TechnologyGuide relied on an HDTV USB outlet for power, with no operational difficulty. That said, between the Chromecast design and required power source, it looks a bit like a wired hack job sticking out of the HDTV.
As for other pertinent specs, the Chromecast supports 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and 802.11n only at 2.4GHz, as well as WEP, WPA/WPA 2 security, with a maximum output of 1080p. None of this should present an issue for most users.
Setting up Chromecast is relatively easy, but can only be done on a select set of external devices, including smartphones and tablets running Android 2.3 or later (which covers just about all official Android devices released since 2011) through a Google Play app; or Windows 7 or 8 PCs, Mac OS 10.7 or later, and Chrome OS on the Chromebook Pixel, through a web address. Setup cannot be done via just the Chromecast unit or any iOS devices, like the iPhone and iPad. However, Google claims an iOS setup app will be coming soon.
From there, it’s simply a matter of entering the Wi-Fi credentials once for the Chromecast, naming the device, and installing a Chrome Browser plugin on your Mac or PC. Any mobile apps that support Chromecast should automatically update.
At launch, the Chromecast officially supports the Netflix and YouTube apps for Google Android 2.3 and later, and iOS 6 and later; as well as Google’s media services, including Google Music and Google Movies. Users can also broadcast individual Chrome web browser tabs from Windows PCs, Macs, and the Chromebook pixel.
Page 2 of this Chromecast review covers Chromecasting and Chrome Browser mirroring.