Currently my favorite invention: CHROMECAST.
By Sara O’Connor
Chromecast is a handy little device, about three inches long, which plugs into one of the HDMI ports in the back of your TV. It costs $35. You control Chromecast with your phone, tablet, or computer. You cannot use the TV remote to control Chromecast. There is a free Chromecast app available for download. Chromecast makes any TV a Smart TV, by allowing you to ‘cast’ media from your phone, tablet, or computer to your TV.
For example, you can pull up YouTube on your phone, tablet, or computer, click a little button on the screen, and the video will play on your TV instead of your device. Additionally, Google now offers Backdrops, which if enabled, casts news images and art onto your screen when no other app is in use.
It also casts the current weather conditions onto your screen, which is really handy, in case you don’t have some other app to do it. Google works with several companies to provide the casting service. You can ‘cast’ anything on the Chrome web browser, in addition to Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, YouTube, Disney, ABC, ESPN, and some other apps and services. In order for all this to work, you have to subscribe to those services.
The Chromecast expenditure is a one-time thing, but these other services are typically monthly payments. What sold me on Chromecast was how easy it was to set up. I was able to set it up alone, without anyone’s help. All you have to do is install the Chromecast app on your phone or tablet, and compatible apps will automatically connect to Chromecast over the shared wireless connection. After installing the Chromecast app, my Netflix and Hulu apps recognized the Chromecast device in the TV and connected to it. Set up took literally two minutes. The most difficult part was making sure the input on my TV came from the correct HDMI port. Since I don’t have cable, I never have to change the input. Once I turn on my TV, Chromecast is immediately ready to work.
Chromecast doesn’t substitute for TV. Normal, real-time TV is not available – channels like History, Discovery, and TLC. Because Chromecast does not allow you to watch TV in real time, you can’t watch the evening news or newest The Big Bang Theory at 8pm every night. Much of the programming is available through other services, but if you’re not willing to wait a day to catch the next episode, Chromecast alone won’t suffice.
If online media services such as Netflix, HuluPlus, and HBO GO are already your thing, Chromecast makes life easier. It frees you from watching media on your tablet, and it’s an inexpensive alternative to Smart TVs.
Sara O’Connor was born and raised in east Central Florida. After graduating with honors from Florida State University, she moved to the Great White North. After eight winter months, she came to her senses and moved back to where she could enjoy 105 degree weather.