Unlike the hype build-up surrounding Glass which seemed to go on for months, Google stole a march on the media and surprised the world last week with a $35 device called Chromecast which is poised to rock the world of Television. This little gadget is designed to work with any HDMI-capable television or monitor and will stream specific provider content straight to your entertainment center big screen.
Which content providers? How about streaming heavy Netflix and, of course, all of Google’s content offerings, such as YouTube and Google Play music and video. Despite the “limited” content partners named at launch, Chromecast sold out online within hours of the announcement, and retail establishments like BestBuy were cleared out shortly thereafter. As expected, other content providers are jumping into what has the makings of a bona fide internet gold-rush, with both Vimeo and Netflix competitor RedBox announcing apps for the device. Hackers have also uncovered what appears to be hooks for HBO’s Go service, the arrival of which would truly cement Chromecast’s position in the entertainment ecosphere.
What this means for you:
If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of families that has an HDMI TV in your living room and wished there was a way you could watch Netflix streaming videos on it, this is your device. Netflix-capable devices have existed for years: all current gaming consoles (Wii, Playstation 3, Xbox 360) and other set-top devices like Apple TV, Google TV, Roku and Boxee, have this capability, but prices start at $100 and head North quickly.
The savvy among you know that you can easily hook a computer, laptop or tablet up to any modern television, either through a set of cables, or in Apple’s case, a not insignificant investment in Apple hardware. With the exception of the Apple solution, these solutions are encumbered by wires that essentially tether that device to your entertainment center more or less permanently, and Apple’s solution locks you into their tightly-controlled iTunes environment and a handful of Apple-approved apps.
Now, for the cost of an mid-quality HDMI cable, you can stream that same content (and who knows what else will arrive soon?) to any HDMI TV. Want to enjoy Game of Thrones at a friend’s house, but they don’t have HBO? Assuming the HBO Go app becomes a reality, you’ll be able to put the Chromecast device in your pocket, head over to your friend’s house and plug it in to their TV. Log into your HBO Go account from one of their computers or connect your smartphone to their WiFi, and you are good to go.