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Google Chromecast and the Future of TV

Google snuck out it’s latest product in near total secrecy, with the Chromecast device becoming available right after its announcement, according to the Washington Post. This simple-looking device connects to your television and streams media that’s sent to it from your computer, tablet or smartphone. The unique aspect of Google Chromecast that sets its apart from competitors like Roku and Apple TV is that the device is a small dongle that receives signals from your existing hardware, not through a separate remote. This opens up unique possibilities such as “casting” whatever you’re watching onto your television.

The Advantages of Chromecast

The major advantage of this device is the $35 price tag, as Google.com’s chromecast page highlights. While lower-end models of the Roku are certainly cheap, they aren’t coming close to touching this price point. Apple TV and other streaming media devices are in the $99-and-up range, so Google is well on its way to capturing the budget-conscious consumers, alongside the early adopters.

Chromecast does come with the standard complement of apps you’d expect from a streaming media service. Pandora, Netflix, Google Play, and YouTube are available already, with more planned apps coming down the pipeline. Compared to other established options on the market, that’s a paltry selection. But Chromecast isn’t your typical streaming media box. Instead of making you go through an often confusing and unfamiliar interface to play your streaming media, you have many tablets to pick from. This is not to mention smartphones and computers acting as your remote. Additionally, you can “cast” your current tab or screen on your television to watch media that does not have a supported Chromecast app.

The Issues with Chromecast

If you’re part of the cord cutters group, or you enjoy watching streaming media, chances are good you already have some type of streaming media player in your living room, whether it’s a Roku, gaming console or apps pre-loaded onto a smart TV. It’s hard to justify yet another device in your living room. While the Chromecast is promising, it does have some growing pains that it needs to address before it makes it big time.

The casting technology is a great concept, but in practice, there’s a marked difference between streaming through supported apps and streaming through unsupported sites. The quality isn’t there, and when you’re going from your computer screen to a 60-inch television, it’s more than a bit noticeable. As the Atlantic Wire sheds some light on, you need a fast, strong Wi-Fi signal to stream media without encountering lag and stuttering issues. However, that’s not a problem as there shouldn’t be any shortage of high speed local Internet options to choose from.

The advertisement used by Google was also a bit misleading. One of its selling points is that it’s a low-profile device compared to set-top boxes, since it plugs into the HDMI port on your television. However, it cannot draw power through that port, so it does have a separate power cable. It’s not all that bulky, but if you were expecting a self-powered dongle, you’re going to have to prepare yourself to wrangle another television cord.

Finally, you also have to wait if you want to get your hands on one. The initial supply sold out quickly, leaving a wait time of up to a month for additional units ordered after the first rush. The only other option to get your hands on a Chromecast is to head to eBay, and pay far more than you should for the device.

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