Google Chromecast Setup and Testing

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chromecast_dongle

So, I was lucky enough (or quick enough) to snag a couple of Chromecasts from Amazon before they sold out (and, before the 5:31 PST cutoff for the 3-month Netflix coupon). I ordered via Amazon Prime but they came a day early, and so I was able to spend a few minutes this evening playing around with the device on each of my HD TVs.

My initial thought is: wow, this is one heck of a device for $35. Setup was easy as pie (probably one of the easiest networked gadgets I’ve ever configured) given the Android app, and both of my TVs are able to provide sufficient power through their USB ports and so there’s very little mess. All in all, I’d say the out-of-box-experience was second to none.

Performance is also very good, with HD YouTube videos looking excellent, music sounding just fine via the soundbars I use for my TVs, and every streaming site I’ve tried plays nicely via Chrome on Windows or Mac. This includes Hula and HBO Go, which means we don’t need to wait for dedicated apps to stream content from either of them. There’s a tiny bit of lag, but it’s only noticeable if you look at both the TV and the PC (natch). So, don’t do that and you’ll be fine.

The Chromecast is also great for music. I have decent soundbars on both of my TVs, and streaming from Play Music is almost flawless. The only issue is that while the cover art moves around while the music’s playing (to avoid burning in), it’s stationary while music is paused. However, it saved me the need to buy Bluetooth speakers for the bedroom, which would have cost considerably more than $35.

Here’s a quick video I put together on the setup and performance of the Chromecast. Sorry for the terrible cinematography—not only am I not very good at making videos, but my house is a mess (long story) and showing things on the big screens means I have very little control over the “studio” in which I’m recording. Once I figure out how to factory reset the Chromecast, I’ll probably redo this one.

There are a few caveats. First, there’s a Chrome extension called “ChromeCast” that is not the one you want; it’s a podcast player. Rather, you want the extension called “Google Cast.” Second, if you use your TV’s USB port to power the Chromecast rather than the included power adapter, then it won’t turn on your TV. You’ll need to first turn on the TV, which then powers the Chromecast. It’s a small nuisance, but worth noting.

So, my initial recommendation is, if you can find one, get one. The price is ridiculous at $35 (even without the free three months of Netflix), setup is easy, and performance is great. Any questions or comments, please let me know below.

Update: Apparently (and I missed this, sorry), there’s an experimental screen mirroring function. Thanks to Droid Life for this one. Note that this only works on PCs at the moment.

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