Welcome to ZenUnwired; a blog dedicated to tracking developments in technology and strategy, and to deciphering the impact of these developments on wired and wireless ISP's, device manufacturers, OS and application developers, and most importantly - you.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

ChromeCast - Everything You Want to Know

What is ChromeCast?

  • ChromeCast, a device roughly the size of a USB thumb-drive, plugs into any HDMI port on your TV, and uses your existing Wi-Fi network to stream video from the internet to your TV
  • ChromeCast is controlled from devices on the same Wi-Fi network, such as smartphones, tablets, or computers, and is powered via USB
  • ChromeCast launched on 7/24, at $35 (+ Taxes) via Google Play, Amazon.com and BestBuy
  • At launch, ChromeCast came bundled with three months of Netflix streaming (available even to current Netflix subs). However, Google pulled this promo within 36 hours of launch due to overwhelming demand. Orders placed before the cutoff date/time are grandfathered in
  • Currently only available in the US; ChromeCast is sold out nationwide

What OS'es does it Support?

  • Android 2.3 +    
  • iOS 6.0 + (iOS cannot be used for setting up ChromeCast at this time)
  • Windows 7 +
  • Mac OS 10.7 +
  • Chrome OS (ChromeBook Pixel on Chrome 28 & higher)

How does one Cast content to their TV's?
You can “cast” content to your TV’s in one of two ways:

  • Cast from your smartphone or tablet, using a ‘cast supported app’: Open the app, and press the “cast” button. Once connected, you can cast videos, movies and TV shows directly to your TV
  • Cast from your laptop, using the Chrome browser: First download the Google Cast Chrome extension. Once you have installed it, you can ‘mirror’ your browser tab on your TV using ChromeCast’s ‘cast a tab’ feature. 

Other Noteworthy Details

  • Supported Sites & Apps: 
    • Currently supported sites include YouTube, Netflix, Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Music. 
    • Coming Soon: Pandora, HBO Go, Showtime, Hulu Plus, AOL, Revision3, Redbox Instant, Vevo and Vimeo
  • ChromeCast does not come with a separate remote control. You will need to use your phone/tablet/laptop to find the video, control its playback, and even adjust the volume 
  • While casting a supported site/app, ChromeCast gets the video from the Internet directly; meaning – once the video starts playing, you can do something else, or even shut down your phone/tablet/laptop, without interrupting the video
  • Casting a non-supported site using ‘cast a tab’, puts significant strain on the phone/tablet/laptop from which the video is being casted.  
    • The New York Times reports: “The video doesn’t always seem as crisp ……..and some people experience occasional stutters or audio glitches” 
    • Probably as a result of the resource needs, ChromeBooks other than the ChromeBook Pixel ($1,299+) are not currently supported (Google Play states that ChromeBooks with ChromeCast support will be coming soon)
  • ChromeCast is not currently able to cast personal videos and pictures to the TV. However, AndroidCentral reports that a developer has already created an app that accomplishes this (the app is not yet available to the public per the terms of the SDK). In this context, it is also noteworthy that ChromeCast is able to mirror the entire desktop environment using the “Cast entire screen (experimental)” feature on the Chrome browser. However, this feature does not currently support audio.