Google announces Chromecast, $35 HDMI dongle to stream supported services to TV
Google has just finished their big breakfast event and one of the highlights for Apple users is Chromecast, a $35 HDMI dongle that turns any TV into a receiver for YouTube, Netflix, and potentially other services that adopt the API. It seems like Apple's AirPlay, but has some benefits and drawbacks all its own. Here's what Phil Nickinson from Android Central had to say:
YouTube, Google Play Music — all available through Chromecast and accessed through your phone. You can set up a queue of videos to play while still use your phone for other tasks. Browse, take phonecalls, check e-mail — whatever you need to do. Streaming is handled from the Chromecast — not from your phone. And Netflix? No problem.
As for those drawbacks, first, it's "cross-platform" as in "works with iOS and Android, and the [in this case Chrome] browser". Other desktop browsers, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone, so far, need not apply. That's increasingly the case with Google, which makes me kinda wish they'd find a new, more honest word for it like "select-platforms". Apple and AirPlay only work with iOS and OS X, of course, which is worse from a supported platform perspective, but you absolutely know that going in.
Second, whenever someone talks about device independence, it means they're selling service dependence. It's the same old yarn from Flash, where it can run everywhere, but you become locked into Adobe's ecosystem. Likewise, Chromecast looks like it'll support a wide range of devices, but you'll be locked into Google API for doing so. No such thing as a free-as-in-speech or free-as-in-beer lunch.
Third, even though it streams from the cloud all on its own, Chromecast requires a secondary smart device to control it (iOS, Android, or Chrome-browser), and that introduces a point of failure. Even if my iPhone is dead, or left at another location, I can pick up the rinky-dink Apple TV IR remote and have at it. Not so with Chromecast.
All that aside, the price is killer, and you use iOS or Chrome on OS X, and the services you care most about are YouTube, Netflix, and other Google and partner offerings, Chromecast might be a great option for you.
If you're Apple-only, AirPlay, especially with AirPlay mirroring, and an Apple TV look like they're still a far better option (especially considering Apple TV has built-in, native YouTube and Netflix channels.)
I'll be getting one, though. Anyone else?