High Praise for Google's Video-Streaming Chromecast

Chromecast is a device that is about the size of a USB flash drive, plugs into the HDMI port of your television

How much does it cost to turn your “dumb” TV into a Smart TV?

Just $35 with Google’s new Chromecast. The low price has led the innovative streaming device to sell out on Amazon and Best Buy, just a day after it was announced.

Chromecast, a device that is about the size of a USB flash drive, plugs into the HDMI port of your television and it lets you send internet video from almost any screen (phone, tablet or computer) to your TV.

This is Google’s next attempt to enter the video streaming market, which includes more expensive competitors like Roku and Apple TV that range from $50 to $100. As Gizmodo’s Managing Editor, Brian Barrett, points out, the Chromecast’s biggest asset is its $35 price

“Even if you use it twice and never look at it again, it will have been totally worth it,” Barrett said. “When's the last time you could say that about any gadget, ever?”

Netflix is one of the first apps that is compatible to play with Chromecast, and for a limited time Google had offered to give away three months of free streaming Netflix with the purchase of its device.

But Google announced that it would end the promotion Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times

"Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion is no longer available," Google said in a statement. 

Despite Forbes contributor Jason Evangelho’s call for you to “Go out and buy one,” you can’t on most online outlets because they are already sold out, as of Thursday afternoon. But you can still purchase one now through the Google Play Store.

Chromecast doesn’t use a remote—it is controlled by your phone or computer, so you don’t need to learn a new interface, Evangelho wrote. That’s a big advantage because there are no unfamiliar buttons or menus; you can open the YouTube app on your iPhone, press the cast button, and it will begin playing on your television.

And that’s a huge benefit of the Chromecast—you can use your iPhone (and other Apple products) to control it because it is multiplatform, PC Magazine’s Damon Poeter said. While Apple TV only works with iPads, iPhones and Mac computers—all Apple devices—Google has not constricted its device to its own products. All phones and tablets running iOS or Android are compatible with Chromecast. You can also control it from a Mac or Windows computer via the Google Chrome internet browser.

When using the competing Apple TV streaming feature, you’re locked into the video app on your phone while you watch it on TV—you can’t switch apps or the video will stop. Chromecast solves that problem by allowing users to multitask and open any other applications on their second screen while the TV continues to play.

A “nifty” feature, which is not currently offered in competing devices, is the Chromecast’s ability to turn on the TV, switch to the proper TV signal input, and automatically start playing your video just by pressing one button on your tablet, GigaOM’s Janko Roettgers said.

No product is perfect on the first launch, and Chromecast has its share of drawbacks as well, according to Mashable’s Emily Price. It’s biggest downfall is the amount of content, she said, because it is currently limited to YouTube, Netflix, Google Play, and Chrome (which is a feature still being tested). Competitors offer other services including Hulu and HBO Go. You also can’t watch any photos or videos that you have stored on your phone on the TV screen with Chromecast either.

One of the misconceptions is that all you need to do is plug it in to the TV and you’re ready to go; but that’s not the case, Barrett noted. Chromecast won’t charge through your TV so you need to power it via a USB cable.

If you purchased Chromecast from Amazon, reports say you could have the new gizmo by the end of the week—while Google Play customers must wait a minimum of three weeks. 

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