Less than two months after launching experimental internet balloons into the Earth’s stratosphere, Google is once again taking another step toward dominating the digital world. Last Wednesday (24 July), the digital media giant announced the release of its video streaming device Chromecast. Compatible with laptops, tablets, and mobile phones (Android and iOS), the 5 cm-long gadget plugs into an HDMI port on an HDTV and streams video from the mobile device (acting as a remote) to the TV.
Although Chromecast lacks the breadth of content (it’s currently only able to stream YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix) that other streaming devices such as Apple TV have, it comes at a fraction of the cost. The thumb drive-sized device has a retail price of US$35 (S$45), compared to Apple TV’s price of US$99 (S$125). With more streaming content expected to become available for Chromecast – such as Pandora – we shouldn’t be surprised to see it compete with the big dogs of video streaming.
However, Chromecast’s real advantage over other devices is its multi-screen capability, says Janko Roettgers:
“Chromecast synchronizes media playback across multiple devices, making it possible for you to launch the playback of a Netflix movie on your TV with the help of your phone, then turn off that phone and launch the app on your iPad to pause the movie. That’s simply not possible with [Apple TV's] AirPlay today, and it puts pressure on Apple to add more features.”
Google obviously modeled Chromecast’s simplicity after AirPlay, but, naturally, made improvements. AirPlay only works with Apple products, and even then there are certain software requirements (I know from experience how frustrating it is to find a cool video on a Macbook and not be able to stream it through AirPlay).
Chromecast sold out on both Amazon and the Google Play store within a day of the release, and is still out of stock on Amazon. However, Amazon will ship the device anywhere, so we Asian consumers must only wait until Amazon gets another shipment to have one of our own.