Google brings its TV stick Chromecast now in Germany on the market – for $35. The promise: Thanks to the gadget, mobile devices, and the home TV will merge. But what can Chromecast do – and what not?
Chromecast is thumb-sized and about twice as wide as a USB stick. Google wants to shake up the market with the gadget – and compete with Apple. This bill could work, because Chromecast is available from this Wednesday in Germany – and for a competitive price of only $35.
Chromecast blends mobile devices with the TV.
But what is Chromecast? The stick brings content from the network to the TV screen. According to Google, he is about to merge mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, or laptops with local TV. Prerequisite is an HDMI-enabled TV and a Wi-Fi connection. Chromecast is plugged into the television at the appropriate interface – the TV stick uses power via a supplied USB cable, which is also plugged into a corresponding port. As soon as the so-called HDMI dongle is connected to the TV, the installation process starts. The WLAN password is requested, and authorization code for smartphone, tablet, or laptop must be entered.
Watcher and soon Maxdome will support Google’s Chromecast.
The Chromecast app on the mobile device then connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi. The application then displays which programs can be played on the TV screen. You can choose from video and music streams through Google products like YouTube, Play Movies, or Play Music. Also, the video-on-demand services Watchever and soon Maxdome support the TV stick. Also, German Chromecast users can look forward to the online music channel Vevo and RedBulls Servus.TV. The control via App should be so simple and intuitive that no instructions are needed, and the handling of the remote control in comparison seems exhausting. Conclusion: Chromecast makes mobile devices – whether Windows, Android, or iOS – so to control centers of entertainment and conventional TVs Internetfähig.
In the US, Google’s TV stick is already a hit for $35 and has been sold millions of times since July of last year, says Chromecast’s senior business developer for Germany, Christian Witt. Times Magazine named the HDMI dongle the best gadget in 2013.
The best Chromecast apps
Streaming services for series and movies: Various movies and series streaming services such as Netflix, Sky Online, and Maxdome offer compatible apps for the Chromecast TV sticks. Of course, Google Play Movies & TV is also available. Your favorite series or movies are always available. Depending on the provider, monthly fees are due. An essential Netflix subscription costs about $7.99 per month after a first free month. Here you can access the movies and series with a maximum of one device. For $9.99, the offer can be used on two devices at the same time for $11.99 on four machines.
At Sky Online, you have to choose one of the three packages offered: the “Entertainment” package for € 9.99 a month, the “Cinema” package for € 14.99 a month, and the “Supersport” package for the 14th, $99 per day ticket. A maxdome subscription is in a similar price range. For example, a monthly subscription after a first free trial month also costs $7.99.
If you only want to watch individual films or series, you can either buy them on the Google Play Movies & TV app or borrow them for a much lower price. The quality can be selected between HD and SD.
The best tips and tricks
Control Chromecast stick via TV remote control: Previously, the Chromecast stick could only be controlled via the play apps on the smartphone or tablet. After the firmware update to version 27946, the hardware inserted in the TV now also supports the HDMI CEC standard (Consumer Electronics Control).
This makes it possible in principle to control various consumer electronics devices across components. In the case of the Chromecast Stick, this means that the playback of, for example, Youtube videos can also be paused and resumed via the TV remote control – provided that the TV also supports HDMI-CEC. Depending on TV is also a firmware update required. Also, some TV manufacturers call the standard differently; for example, Anynet + (Samsung), Bravia Sync (Sony), Easylink (Philips), or Simplink (LG). Televisions that are already several years old usually do not support HDMI-CEC. For Chromecast apps, the third-party control is currently limited to start, stop, and pause, but other features such as spooling are not working yet.
Transferring content from the PC browser to the TV: With the Chromecast Stick, Google puts the focus clearly on smartphones and tablets, but streaming the browser content from the computer and notebook is no problem either. The prerequisite for transferring PC or notebook content in the Chrome browser. Along with the Chromecast extension, it lets you download content from both Windows and Linux PCs and Mac to TV transferred in the living room. After downloading a click on the Cast icon in the top right corner of the browser and the selection of the stick, the PC monitor is already mirrored on the TV set.
The benefits of Chromecast
- Chromecast is equipped with its processor, which works independently, according to Google. As a result, no computing power is lost on the mobile device. This saves battery, and you can simultaneously write e-mails, make phone calls, or other work with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
- Convenient, if you use Chromecast with multiple mobile devices: The TV stick remembers where a video was interrupted – and syncs all connected devices. If you then use the tablet instead of the smartphone, Chromecast remembers the place and continues the video there.
- The media libraries of the public service TV stations are still not supported. The videos can always be viewed there via a small detour: As a user, you can open a tab in the Chrome browser and view photos or videos (everything available on the WWW) and then stream them to the TV via the Chromecast plug-in. However, Google points out that this variant is still in the BETA version. It can, therefore, come to a loss of quality and may break a video synonymous sometimes.
- Chromecast makes sure that the videos are automatically adapted to the format of the TV.
- No additional receiver, no cable clutter
- Google released the Software Development Kit about four weeks ago. It allows developers to make their application Chromecast-compatible.
The disadvantages of Chromecast
- The service industry Media criticized after a first Chromecast test, the currently somewhat slow load times. According to the report, it takes some time for the video from the smartphone to appear on the TV.
- So far, your pictures and videos, which are stored only locally on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop and not stored in the cloud, could only be transferred to the TV via detours. Even games cannot yet be projected on the TV screen.