Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chromecast: OK, Now It's a Review, Sort of

About a month and a half ago, I bought a Google Chromecast and then found out that my particular router didn't play well with it. So I put it away, expecting to pick up a new router in the spring or summer. If I hadto shell out more money to use it anyway, I figured I might as well go the whole nine yards and get a "rangemax" (is that trademarked?) router with dual wi-fi capabilities, which looked like it would set me back $150 or so. Save my pennies and all that.

Salvation Army thrift store to the rescue! I found a "longer range" D-Link router, newer than my existing router, still in the box with all its accessories, for four bucks. It's not dual wi-fi. But four bucks. Worth a try.

A certain amount of setup and jiggery-pokery later, I have a new wireless network and a working Chromecast.

It's pretty cool. A number of popular web video sites (YouTube, Netflix and Crackle to name the three I've tried out) have built-in "cast" buttons. Start a video or movie, press "cast" and BAM -- it's on the big screen. And if I want to "cast" something that doesn't have the built-in button, I can just tell the "Cast" app I installed in Chrome to send whatever's running in the tab I have open to the TV.

Not much more to review -- yet. Right now I "cast" from my Chromebox, which entails certain inconveniences. If I want to pause a movie I have to run to my computer instead of just using the remote, that kind of thing. But I understand that I can use an Android device both to "cast" and have it right there on the couch with me to use as a remote (including an overall remote for the TV if my TV has the right hardware, which it may). So I'll check that out at some point. Or maybe I'll just keep the Chromebook in the living room and use it for that ... but I doubt it. The Chromebook is for travel, not for everyday use.

So anyway, for $25 (I got the Chromecast on sale $10 off), the device is a definite deal. For several years, when Tamara and I want to watch something on Netflix or whatever, it's a question of whether or not one of the kids has a compatible game console hooked up to the TV. And usually they don't (they keep their consoles in their rooms, hooked up to their TVs) and it's a big old pain in the ass to drag one out to the living room, hook it up, etc. So now the Chromecast just stays plugged into one of the TV's HDMI ports and we're good to go without a bunch of messing around.

If you watch video on your computer and would prefer to watch the same video on your television, it's $25-$35 well spent.

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