Google’s new Chromecast is a “dongle” device that is a low-cost competitor to Apple TV. To use it, you simply plug the dongle into a television’s HDMI port. It’s wireless, and allows you to stream media from smartphones, tablets and computers right to your TV.
The price is right, also. The device will cost $35 in the U.S.. There’s no word yet on how much it will cost internationally.
Also announced by Google was an upgraded Nexus 7 tablet. It’s the first to run the new version of the Android system.
Google has attempted to gain ground in the television industry before Chromecast, but without much success.
For example, in 2012, Google tried a partnership with Sony. The result was a poorly-received set-top box that bombed.
Before that, in 2010, the Internet giant launched Google TV. It had problems right from the start, because it was blocked by several TV networks. Also, it required consumers to buy expensive hardware.
Then, the orb-shaped Nexus-Q device, announced just last year, also met with criticism as soon as it hit the market. After negative feedback, Google pulled it from the stores.
Google is attempting, with Chromecast, to simplify its large-screen offering. It is focusing on streaming clips from services such as YouTube and Netflix via a far cheaper device.
With similar devices, like Apple TV the media is streamed from the mobile device; but, with Chromecast, it’s streamed from the cloud.
According to Google, this allows for higher-quality streaming, and has less impact on battery life.
The dongle has the ability to stream across multiple operating systems, from Android to Apple’s iOS.
Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said that this aspect in particular is central to Google’s core strategy:
It’s a big departure from the Nexus Q,” she told the BBC. “What it boils down to is a focus around YouTube – and getting people back into that ecosystem.
“If you look at the opportunities around advertising, they’re getting eyeballs back to that.”
Chromecast comes with three free months of Netflix service, even for current subscribers.
Also, within a few months, Chromecast will be able to mirror web pages on the big screen. It will effectively replicate anything in your smartphone or computer browser on your TV. That could be one way that Google is attempting to get around those broadcasters’ websites that blocked Google TV from accessing streaming TV shows in the living room.
The mirroring functionality Chromecast will have is a few months away, but that shouldn’t be a reason not to buy the device. It’ll probably be that long before you can get your hands on one. Currently, the Google store shows new orders as shipping in “4-6 weeks.” Also, Amazon currently shows the Chromecast as out of stock with no new availability date.
With Chromecast from Google, you will be able to stream media to your TV — it just might take awhile to get your hands on one.
Written by: Douglas Cobb