Is Chromecast worth $35 to iPhone and iPad users?

When Google unveiled their $35 Chromecast I was genuinely interested. It was cheap and offered a lot of really cool app integration such as streaming from Songza, VEVO, Netflix, Plex and more. I ended up picking a Chromecast up, setting it up in my bedroom and... barely ever using it. Why? Because I'm invested into the Apple ecosystem and they have me hooked with the Apple TV. So, Chromecast was essentially a waste of $35. But what about folks not already invested in the Apple TV? Is the Chromecast a better, cheaper option for them? That very question popped up on the iMore Forums recently...

If you're using Google apps, you'll get your uses out of it.Algus, iMore Forums Member

Although Apple TV's are reasonably priced, often available for under $90, at $35 the Google option of a Chromecast is even cheaper and offers a lot of what Apple TV does in a smaller package. When Google initially released the Chromecast, to say the options were limited is a bit of understatement. They only had three or four apps signed on for it but since then, support for the device on iOS has grown and it no longer just feels like a 'Google' thing.

You can stream from your Windows PC via Chrome browser to Chromecast. One has to have a Mac to stream to Apple TV.rayz336, iMore Forums Member

One benefit the Chromecast has over the Apple TV is the ability to stream things from Google Chrome on Windows to your TV. With an Apple TV, you need to have a Mac in order to have desktop mirroring or purchase a third-party app to do so like AirParrot. But if that's not really something you plan on doing a lot of, it's a bit of a useless feature.

I would not replace Apple TV with it. It's more of a secondary device.cwbcpa, iMore Forums Member

Personally, I think having a Chromecast kicking around is a good addition to also having an Apple TV. Maybe you have several TV's in your house and don't want to be bother moving your Apple TV around or purchasing additional units just to fill in the gaps. A lot of what Chromecast offers is an overlap of what an Apple TV can do, so at $35 it just might be what you're looking for.

What do you all think? Is a Chromecast a suitable replacement for an Apple TV and worth the purchase cost? Is it more of an add-on purchase to your already existing TV?

Discuss more in the iMore Forums

Editor-at-Large at Mobile Nations, gadget junkie, energy drinker, ranter.

  • Its definitely worth it to me! I'm using a Nexus 5 and I also have an iPad air. I use Google Play Music All Access religiously as well as Google Play Movies so Chrome Cast is a considerably better option, for me, than Apple TV. Posted via the Android iMore App on my Nexus 5!
  • One thing that the Chromecast can do is switch inputs via HDMI-CEC....sounds petty, but I love the fact that I can use my iPhone to send something to Chromecast and have it automatically turn on the TV and select the correct input. Wish AppleTV could do this.
  • Actually its not petty. My Panasonic blue ray does this "switch inputs via HDML-CES" and its awesome. My 3 yr old just sticks a DVD/CD in the player and TV is turned on and inputs switched. All devices should be this way. He does it sometimes when Im watching something, then it pisses me off :)
  • I know Roku was set to enable HDMI-CEC, but only for a few of their products. It's supposed to be a standard across TVs, but each manufacturer has their "flavor" which can cause issues.
  • I have one in the bedroom and will be getting one for the living room. I'm not tied to either ecosystem as other people are. I do use it to stream my music i uploaded to Google Play, but apart from that i use it for Pandora, Netflix and YouTube. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • I picked up a Chromecast when I got a new TV two months ago. I have not used it much but I do liek casting Google All Access to it. I do hope more app developers integrate the APIs into their apps. Especially NBCExtra. I would love to cast the alternate EPL match to my TV from my iPhone/iPad.
  • I have 3 apple tvs and 2 chromecasts. We went no cable about 4 months ago and have 3 tvs is the house. I will be purchasing another chromecast to round out all three tvs. I'm more involved in Google and the lady is more involved in Apple so it works for us. We have also found out that when our Internet gets slow the apple tv sometimes chokes on Netflix and Hulu video. The chromecast seems to power through and utilizes the band with a bit better. We still use the apple tv more and would recommend that first. I like the dedicated remote as opposed to using phones or tablets. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • I had an ATV2 for a bit and it was the control that killed the experience for me! Its nice to look at but Chromecast's approach to selecting content is sooooo much better/convenient/intuitive. I'm sure you're probably thinking it's no big deal to click around the ATV interface to the app you want but try to search anything in Netflix or any other app. If you're like me you probably can type on your phone/tablet with your eyes closed. Apple and everyone else that tries to enter the living room sees that Google really thought up something great and I have a feeling we'll be seeing TV/remote paradigms changing soon.
  • I agree completely that to search for something is garbage with the remote. I bought 3 bluetooth keyboards that I use with each apple tv to do any type of search or data entry. I paid $15 each and they work great. I probably wouldn't use it as often if I didn't have them.
  • Uh Apple has a remote app that you can use instead of a physical remote. Very handy especially when needing to type something in. But I do agree universal search would be a plus
  • Chromecast gets things done faster for me. Have apple TV at the boyfriends house and the setup in that is a nightmare. Movies take forever to load on that, whether or not they are in iTunes or Netflix or other services. Chromecsast seems to play much quicker. Airplay is ok, but not a function I use. Even best is I like that the Chromecast is tucked out if the way and uses WiFi, not IR (needs a very direct line of sight). The $50 difference is pretty good too. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • I have AppleTV and don't have that problem. I wonder if the problem really lies with AppleTV. As far as Chromecast, why would I want Google tracking me there ,too, and cashing in? Google isn't benign anymore if they ever were, remember that 'accident' where they were collecting bank and email data with their street-view vehicles. Their response to the public wasn't quite as truthful as what they had to admit to regulators.
  • grow up.
  • Just curious, are you streaming at HD or SD on the Apple TV? Does the Chromecast stream above 720P? My A-TV loads with no problems, even in HD so it may be your data connection.
  • I bought it. Tried to use it a few times. Couldn't figure it out. Cat ate the power cord. Have no desire to get it going again. I still have no idea what I'm supposed to use it for or how I'm supposed to use it. Didn't really care enough to research it too much. I guess I was hoping it would be more user friendly.
  • I think the answer, as usual, is that it depends on your individual needs. Other than price, the two main advantages Chromecast has going for it are:
    - cross platform - in case you have both iOS and Android products
    - able to stream from Chrome on Windows If the above two bullet points are important to you, then I'd probably recommend a Chromecast for certain. However if the above two bullet points are not a priority, then I'd consider the Apple TV to be the better option in almost all regards, especially because of Airplay.
  • I'm waiting on a Chromecast to be delivered today. I'm getting it because I want to watch Netflix on a second TV and did want to move my Apple TV3 around from TV to TV.
    Of and when Apple drops a new Apple TV I'll get that also. Sent from the iMore App
  • Got one. Can't figure out much use for it. No interesting in playing music thru my TV, that's what I have a high end stereo for. Most streaming stuff works ok, but no different from my other devices. Casting a Chrome browser window is currently a joke (quality wise), but I hear they're working on that.
  • I don't have an AppleTV, but I have two Roku boxes, and bought a Chromecast this last Christmas. I really only had a few reasons to try it. YouTube is not yet available for the second-gen Roku boxes (supposedly coming soon). I wanted Viki and it doesn't have a Roku channel (its content is on Hulu Plus, but with tons of commercials like everything else there). And I wanted to be able to cast more videos around the internet to the TV. I really don't feel that the Chromecast was really worth the cost to me, as a Mac user, iPhone and iPad user, and a Roku user. There is a working Roku channel (app) called Twonky that will beam content from iOS (and Android, I think) to the Roku. I've fiddled with it some more and it looks promising. Both Twonky and Chromecast-enabled iOS apps don't simply act as "remotes," you can't use your iOS device for anything else while watching. I was also frustrated that there was no support for casting from Chrome in iOS. I tried casting from my Mac, which was in an adjoining room, about 10 feet away from the TV. The video froze quite a lot (more than the iPad Chromecast-enabled apps casting, and much more than the Roku). Even the Viki app has some issues. If you try to watch a newly added video that has not been fully subtitled, the existing subtitles won't cast on that video. Which is really a disappointment if you're watching a show a few hours after it's aired in another country, and might be MOSTLY subtitled in your language.
  • I have an iPhone, iPad, and an iMac, and also two Chromecasts. My iPhone is always with me and most the time my iPad is also within reach when I am watching one of the TVs that has a Chromecast attached. The price difference is nice but the real advantage to me is it allows me to avoid having to use the so-called "10 foot interface" you have to use with devices like the Apple TV and the Roku. I like, and frequently use, the YouTube and Netflix apps on my IOS devices. The interfaces in apps are quick and easy to move around. With the Chromecast I can use those apps exactly as I would before to find something to watch except now I can throw it onto my TV screen if I like. That's pretty compelling to me. I also got three months free of Netflix when I purchased the first one right after they were released which didn't hurt either. And of course these are only getting more and more useful now that the SDK has finally been made public.
  • Neither. I went with Roku 2. I do not need to trap myself any further into an ecosystem like I already am. But if I have to pick either one, I'd go with Chromecast. I'll plug my MacBook Pro or iPad Air via HDMI to my TV if I want to watch my iTunes purchased shows or Movies.
  • Neither. Neither Chromecast nor Appletv are adequete solutions. I need to play local content off usb drive or a networked drive. I need a regular remote control. I need to play mkvs & avis. I don't need netflix or songza. I rarely desire to play content off my phone. Now i use an old wdtv. It get's the job done. Oh i do use youtube occasionally but that works exactly the same as chromecast does. I can use my phone to control it if i wanted to. And my xbox 360 has the same functionality. The other thing is my 360 also has espn and a time warner app to get cable tv. I'm also not invested in the apple ecosystem. I've only bought like 3 apps total (though i have over 80 on my phone). I don't buy music from them. I don't think the issue is "iphone users." if you want a cheap way to play netflix on your tv i think chromecast is great. But my concern isn't netflix it's playing my own content off of my 2 tb drive. I'm anxious to see if google makes a new full featured box. But i'm not holding my breath. Google is always good for taking a good idea and not doing anything with it or as my dad would say, "doing a half ass job." What
  • Looks like you just need Plex.
    Also a video of it in action on youtube running on chromecast.
  • chromecast isn't worth it period