For $35, the Google Chromecast is a great Christmas gift. The Chromecast acts like a Roku player (or similar streaming media player) however it’s controlled by your smartphone or computer over WiFi. Once it’s set up you use apps on your phone or computer to stream content to your TV. However the Chromecast doesn’t pull data from your phone or device, it will connect to the content on it’s own and stream it from the source so you’re free to use your phone for whatever else once it starts streaming.
For example, you can launch the Netflix app on your phone and hit the Chromecast button to start up the Netflix app on the Chromecast. Once you select something to play it’ll begin loading on the Chromecast and you can close out the app on your phone. You can use the app on your phone to control the content by fast forwarding or pausing if you like.
Recently Google added a few more apps to make the Chromecast more versatile. Originally it could only stream from a handful of apps such as Netflix and Google Play. Now there are more options including HBO Go, Hulu Plus and Pandora (and several more that I’ve never used such as VEVO, RedBullTV and RealPlayer Cloud). The HBO Go and Pandora apps are my favorite additions. I’d like to see a Dish Anywhere app sometime in the future, but HBO will do for now.
You can view the video below for a look at the new apps and to see the Chromecast in action. For $35 it has a great, easy to use design and I love using it. Sure I have all of the same apps and more on my PS3, but the ease of controlling everything seamlessly through my phone is great. I can start something playing on Netflix while I search for something to watch on HBO and switch between the two in a matter of seconds. On the PS3 the time it takes to exit one app and enter another is painful.