Saturday, January 11, 2014

Google Chromecast Review

In July 2013 Google released the Chromecast, a TV streaming dongle.


Release and problems

When the Chromecast was released for a price of only 35 $ I was very excited about and wanted to try it out immediately, just the release in July 2013 was US only, so the rest of the world had to wait and still is waiting ...
Of course, there have been some resellers, buying the Chromecast in the US and selling it to the rest of the world way overpriced. There has been Chromecasts for about 70 € for example, which equals about 95 $.
Finally I got my hands on one as the prices of one reseller dropped to about 42 € which I was willing to pay. Of course it came with a US power connector but that doesn't matter to me as I can use a USB port on my TV for the power support.
Google announced to start selling it officially to other countries as well at some point in 2014.

What it is

The Chromecast is a TV dongle that allows to stream content (like YouTube) from the web to your TV. There are a number of apps supporting it and a lot more who want to. The number is limited at the moment as Google has not finally released the free SDK for it but announced to do so soon. So right now, every app needs to be approved by Google for supporting the Chromecast. It is to expect that a lot more apps will support it within the next few months.
Just some examples of apps already supporting the Chromecast:

  • YouTube
  • BeyondPod
  • Google PlayMusic
  • Google PlayMovies
  • RedBull TV
  • ...
See for a list of apps supporting the Chromecast or check the link within the Chromecast app.

Chromecast apps

How to set it up

To set it up you connect it to the HDMI port of your TV and with either a USB port or a power connector for additional power supply.
The next step is to either set it up by using a webpage or just install the Chromecast app on your Smartphone or Tablet. I have done the setup by the app and it was fast and easy. You just pick a name for the Chromecast and enter the information for your WiFi. The name is useful when you have more than one Chromecast so you can distinguish them better.

Chromecast setup guide in the app

Chromecast list in the app

Chromecast connected and ready to go

How it works

One simple word: GREAT
I have a Samsung TV with the SmartTV capabilities and was using YouTube controlled by my Smartphone a lot even before that but the Chromecast works more smoothly, easier and faster.
Simply start your TV and start the app on your Smartphone or Tablet that you want to stream. Within the app select the content you want to consume and pick the Chromecast as output media (the screen cast symbol in the top right) you want to stream it by.

Select content to stream

Select the device to stream to

The cast symbol turns blue and the output device is shown

The content is played on the TV

You can also adjust the volume by the Smartphone or Tablet volume controls for the output device as well as pause the content or step forward / backward to other time-stamps within the video.

Volume control

While you watch some content by the Chromecast, your Smartphone or Tablet can be used normally. You can switch to other videos and cancel the current one or you can add more videos to the queue. Of course, you can also show and manage the current queue itself (by the list symbol in the button left of the video screen).

Adding more content to the Queue

Pressing the cast symbol again gives the option to adjust volume as well as the option to disconnect.

Disconnecting or volume adjustment

It needs to be mentioned, that the content you stream is really streamed from the web, not from your device. This is also true if you have the content on your device as well. For example, when you subscribe and download podcasts with BeyondPod but select to see it on the TV with a Chromecast, it will be streamed from the web, not from your device where it might already been downloaded.

Streaming from BeyondPod

Watching the shows on the big TV screen.


I really like the Chromecast, it works smooth and easy and I even prefer it over the SmartTV capabilities of my TV. At the moment the number of apps supporting it is still very limited but I am looking forward to more to come. In my opinion it's totally worth the 35 $ and I would guess once it gets officially released in Europe it will be set around 35 € as well.