DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

January 21, 2014

Chromecast

This is a very popular way to convert your "almost" smart TV into a fairly intelligent one…at a very low cost.

If you have not heard about it yet the item is called Chromecast which was developed by Google. It is a dongle…STOP!  Some of you may need to know what a dongle is so let me explain.  

A dongle is a relatively small device which plugs into a computer and can take on different jobs depending on what the dongle was created to do.  For instance, it could be used as an adapter to allow a specific device to be used like an external hard drive or a game controller.  A dongle could also be utilized to allow you to plug one sized cable into another size, like converting an USB plug to a micro USB plug. 

The Chromecast is a small device measuring roughly 2.8" x 1.4" x 0.5" and looks a lot like a thumb-drive (another dongle type device).  It is very light weight, too at about 1.2 oz.

Chromecast is a digital media device which you plug into an HDMI port on your computer.  HDMI is the larger USB plug present on many newer digital televisions.  It allows you to transfer uncompressed video data and compressed/uncompressed digital audio data from one device to a compatible computer monitor, digital television, or audio device. In other words, instead of plugging your new Chromecast into your TV you could plug in your notebook computer and do about the same thing.  However, you would be putting wear and tear on your much more expensive computer to watch streaming shows on your TV.

Once plugged in and the easy five minute setup is done, you can stream (watch from the internet using your home’s wi-fi) movies and your favorite TV shows to your large screen television.  This is much better than watching from your small computer monitors like many people do now.  There are many other devices out there which already do this; however, the prices range from $70 to close to $200 and some have a recurring fee.  Chromecast costs only $35 and has no future expense.  It is very inexpensive and Google updates it with new features regularly which allow it to do more.  Now for you Apple folks out there it does not work with Apple TV, sorry.

Once you plug your Chromecast into your TV it has a small port on the other end to plug in the power cable.  Most televisions will have a power port on the back, if not you can plug it directly into a wall socket. 

If you have accounts (some requiring a fee) with Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus and/or Google Play Movies or another you can watch them on your TV now.  If you listen to music on a site like Pandora you can run that through your TV speakers too.  Even better, if you can play something in your Google Chrome browsers on the computer or phone you are broadcasting from, you can watch it on your TV using Chromecast. 

One example of this is what happened with a buddy of mine and his wife who are big "Castle" fans.  They do not have cable TV so every week a few days after the original broadcast of the show they would watch it at ABC.com on their notebook.  Now they start it up on the same computer at the same site and it is then sent to their big screen TV.  This is much more comfortable and easier to see.

Here is the bad (or good) news.  In my opinion you will not have to use Chromecast in the future. It and devices like it will become obsolete.  I believe that in the very near future you will only be able to purchase Smart TVs and they will already have wi-fi capabilities already built into them.  A large number of new sets today are already set up that way.  But until you buy your new TV, $35 is an easy way into the future.

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