Google Chromecast media streamer (preview)

Throw videos or Web pages from your phone, tablet or PC to your TV for US$35

Over the years, Google has had a few attempts at bringing content from your Android phone or tablet to your TV — like the aborted Nexus Q, and the various incarnations of the Google TV.

Those products have largely fallen by the wayside, but the search-and-social giant has a new device in the works: the Chromecast dongle, which plugs into your TV, hooks into your Wi-Fi network, and waits to be controlled by whatever computer or smartphone or tablet you’re using.

Google Chromecast: Design

The Chromecast dongle is similar to other miniature ‘streaming sticks’ currently on the market — we often use the Roku variant, and there are countless Chinese clones available.

The Chromecast is a candybar-shaped device that plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port, although it doesn’t draw power from the port and needs a cable running to one of the TV’s USB ports as well. This isn’t a big deal — we only know of one or two HDMI dongles that can run off the port’s own power (in a TV equipped with MHL), and they’re all significantly more expensive than the Chromecast.

Since it’s not meant to be visible whenever you’re watching TV, the design of the Chromecast dongle isn’t all that important, but it’s not particularly ugly — think of an oversized USB flash drive. For its US$35 price tag we think that it looks perfectly reasonable.

Key to the Chromecast’s design is its integrated Wi-Fi, which initially pairs directly with your phone or tablet or computer for the initial setup, then ties in to your proper Wi-Fi network to connect to the Internet. After that, it’ll lie in wait until triggered by whatever mobile device you so choose to use it with.

Google Chromecast: Usage

The big idea behind the Chromecast media streamer is that if you’re using an iOS or Android tablet or smartphone, or a PC or Mac running Google’s Chrome Web browser, you’ll be able to throw content from certain apps from your device onto the Chromecast stick — letting you select a YouTube video from the comfort of your couch and the convenience of your tablet, then pushing it to the big screen for more impressive or more communal viewing.

Netflix is a launch partner for Google on the Chromecast, with three months’ free subscription included in the US$35 price as another reason to buy. As you’d expect, the Netflix app will support the Chromecast’s functionality as soon as the device is released in the next couple of days, with the two other big drawcards being videos straight from YouTube and Web pages straight from the Chrome browser.

One slight stumbling block we can see is that the Chromecast has no way of turning your TV on remotely, so you’ll have to keep the remote control nearby nonetheless. It will be able to function in a low-power sleep state, though, and can wake itself whenever you throw a video or Web page to it.

The Chromecast dongle presents itself on your Wi-Fi network as a sort of second viewing screen, but there’s an important distinction to make here — when you tell the stick to stream a YouTube video or Netflix show, the Chromecast dongle contacts that website or data service directly, so your mobile device, likely running on valuable battery power, isn’t doing all the heavy lifting.

The Google Chromecast stick isn’t currently selling in Australia — the dongle is only available to US buyers at the moment, with a large part of the reason for that likely being the tie-in with Netflix. We’ll let you know when and if it comes Down Under. Even at $50 locally it’d make an attractive extra for anyone who uses a bit of Google on their Wi-Fi-enabled computer or mobile device.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?