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Video: An In-depth Look at Google Chromecast (Updated)

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Is it safe to say that Chromecast is the talk of the tech world since its unveiling, yesterday at Google’s breakfast with Chrome boss Sundar Pichai? We’ve already seen it sell out through Google Play, Amazon, and Best Buy (online), and have had more emails in our inbox about it than any other product announcement in recent memory. At $35, I can’t exactly say that I’m surprised, though. 

So today, we’re taking an in-depth look (12-minute video overview) at Google’s new HDMI dongle that streams video, music and Chrome browser tabs to TVs from phones, tablets, and computers. You’ll hear me say in a number of times in the video below, but after spending 5 minutes with Chromecast, it’s painfully obvious that this is the new Nexus Q. The functionality here is identical to what Google originally showed off on the Q, except Chromecast costs $35 and the failed Q ran $299.

It’s a fairly simple device, both in functionality and setup. But probably most importantly, it’s one of those devices that hides in the background, yet is always available should you need it. And since it works with both Android and iOS devices, you are bound to have something lying around that can take advantage of it. Assuming of course, that you have a need for streaming content from a smaller screen to a bigger one.

Enjoy the video. Feel free to drop any questions in the comments!

Video Overview

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Gallery

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Update

After posting this initial video, we had a bunch of important questions in the comments that needed to be answered, so I’m doing that through this section. Also, since most of you wanted to know how streaming sites like Hulu, ABC, and NBC worked, we filmed another quick video with them in action. Oh, Netflix is in there too.

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Other notes:

  • Netflix works great. Streams from either computer or app using the Cast button. Should be full 1080p.
  • My Netflix codes arrived via email about 12 hours after initial setup. I’ve seen some report that they are getting codes at the time of purchase, but this was my experience.
  • I tested video from Hulu, ABC, and NBC – they all worked great once I got my WiFi connection solid through the Chromecast.
  • I mentioned in the video (but didn’t show) that you can go full screen video on sites like Hulu and ABC – just want to confirm that yes, you can go full screen.
  • Chromecast can plug into anything that has an HDMI port. In other words, you could plug it into a monitor if you wanted to (pictured below). I plugged mine permanently into my audio receiver, so that it would use my home theater sound and not just my TV’s.

SONY DSC

  • The quality of your PC browser tab casting all depends on your WiFi connection. Since my receiver is low to the ground, in a corner, and pushed up against a wall, it’s not exactly in the best spot for a Chromecast that needs a WiFi connection. If you use this setup, you’ll definitely want to use the extender that’s included in the box to get better positioning. After tweaking mine, I’m getting a much better connection and experience when casting Chrome tabs.
  • Chromecast settings tweaks may help as well, especially if your connection isn’t the best. By tapping on the Cast icon for the Cast extension, you’ll get a chance to toggle options (pictured below). Since my WiFi is struggling to connect with the Chromecast, I left mine at “High (720p)” and have had no problems.

chromecast settings

  • If you are casting from a mobile device (tablet or phone), it will continue to cast even with your screen off – not your TV screen, but your mobile device screen.
  • Receiving notifications during a cast doesn’t interrupt the cast. So if you get an email or text or Hangouts message while you are casting a video to YouTube, playback goes uninterrupted.
  • If you are watching TV through one HDMI input and then Cast something from a device, it will automatically switch over to the Chromecast input. Once done, though, you’ll have to manually switch back to your TV input.
  • Sideloaded or on-device music cannot be casted to Chromecast. You’ll get this error:

Screenshot_2013-07-25-14-05-00

  • http://www.tech-compass.com/ Tech-Compass

    Here is our video setup tutorial – Hope its useful to anyone looking for a little help

    http://youtu.be/tev94mk_aYU

  • Jeremy Davis

    can you use two different Chromecasts on two different TVs to stream two different videos if you use two different devices?

  • ebrizz@yahoo.com

    After the update that rolled out a few days ago, my chromecast gives
    me the message: “ChromecastXXXX connected to, but can’t access the
    internet” it advised that I run the Chromecast app to choose a different
    network.

    Problem is, if the chromecast isn’t connected to your network, the
    app cant find it. Since the Chromecast device isn’t showing up in my
    wireless devices on my router, I assume this means the device has
    connected to a neighbor’s internet. The factory reset(holding button
    down for 25 seconds) just changes the number on the chromecast ID, but
    brings me back to the same problem.

    Anyone have any idea how to completely wipe the device? Or how to
    contact google support via Email? The Chromecast page only has a
    ‘feedback for the developers’ area. I’ll never get an answer.

  • rosssimpson

    I want mine but I’m here in the UK :(

  • milkywayer

    So I’ve seen a lot of reviews since yesterday but most either skip or have little info on how good video file playback is in the chrome tabs / hdtv. I want to get rid of the hdmi cable between my laptop and hdtv. really hoping chromecast is the solution. Someone with the stick please try and confirm results.

  • Jordan

    I’d like to know if you can stream the same content from one PC to multiple chrome casts connected to different TVs.

    My work would like to feature different HDTVs throughout the business featuring the same product video streaming from one PC. Does anyone know if this is possible?

    If it was answered I apologize. I understand that it allows streaming different devices to different chrome casts but wasn’t sure about streaming from one device to multiple chrome casts.

    Thanks for any information.

  • Paul Natsch

    I picked up one of these today at the Best Buy near my house and I got the Netflix promotional code. This was an unexpected surprise but I’ll take it! They had two left. I live in a Apple house and simply wanted a way to inexpensively play Netflix on my large screen TV and it does that perfectly and I can continue using my devices for other things at the same time. I tried tab casting from my iMac and that worked pretty well too although any kind of video (like HBO GO) wasn’t quite as good as the native applications but it is watchable. Dragging local files into the chrome browser on my iMac also worked well enough to watch.

    The only real downside I’ve seen is that it doesn’t automatically switch inputs for me when I start casting like it seems to for others. Maybe you need a newer TV for something like this? I’m using a four year old LG HDTV.

    But overall it’s really hard to criticize this thing for $11 (if you’ve got the Netflix promotion like I did) or $35. And I imagine it’s only going to get better.

  • Michael

    Just thinking about the Device and this would be great for traveling in hotels.

    • Anuj Goyal

      wont work due to AP restrictions on wifi router…

  • Zach Davis

    I’m really wondering about trying something with the Chromecast. Could I set it up with the Name, connected to my wifi and everything, and then plug it into only my surround sound? If I could just have my surround sound plugged in, with no tv or anything, and plug the chromecast into one of the inputs and switch to it. Maybe that’d work? I’ll have to test it out later today after I pick mine up from Best Buy :P

  • Victor Lugo

    Does this thing get hot if you run it too long? I was also curious if others with Chromecast can pick up your signal.

  • Guest

    can you show locally stored pictures through it in addition to just video?

  • John

    Samsung Smart TV does not handle Adobe Flash, and will not allow you to use intelligent browsers, e.g. Chrome, Safari, Explorer. You are stuck with clumsy Samsung browser.

  • Alex Richards

    Is it possible to show CPU usage on your phone whilst you’re casting? I’m guessing from the demo it basically just pulls in the info (URL) from the phone and the ChromeCast will just grab the actual content directly from the internet rather than streaming from your phone. Just want to be sure this is what happens in the background :)

  • crazed_z06

    So if I’m watching a video in Chrome on the PC, can I cast that to the TV? Like say I’m watching HBO GO on the PC in Chrome, can I cast that to the TV?

  • Reverend Ozz

    Has anyone been able to get the Gallery to push photos / videos to the chromecast? Via Android not the web extension.

  • Reverend Ozz

    Has anyone been able to get the Gallery to push photos / videos to the chromecast? Via Android not the web extension.

  • mgamerz

    Does tab casting work on the samsung ARM chromebook? I’m getting a bad vibe it won’t…

    • PSU_DI

      casting for chromebook is limited to the pixel per yesterdays anoincement

      • tyguy829

        other chromebooks coming soon though

      • tyguy829

        other chromebooks coming soon though

  • Rob Miller

    Anyone know if you have two different TV’s if you can cast to both at the same time if you have two chromecast units?

  • Dean Milord

    If I may just say Kellex that I’m loving the Weeknd playlist!! LOL Can’t wait to get 1or 2 or 5 of these, LOL.

  • booked

    The chromecast app on my desktop says my wifi is turned on, but it is. I connected it with the app on my droid dna. why is it doing this?

  • tu3218

    I have a projector in my basement where I’d like to use this, my problem is what is everyone doing for audio? I guess I could plug into my regular HDTV, but audio from TV speakers suck. What’s everyone doing?

    • Keith New

      Do you have HDMI ports on your A/V switcher?

      • tu3218

        I don’t have a A/V switcher. I have audio outs from my bluray, and cable box going to my stereo. Then the video out(hdmi and component) are going to my projector. I’d have to plug chromecast into my projector but don’t know what I’d do for audio.

  • trlovejoy

    ” I plugged mine permanently into my audio receiver, so that it would use my home theater sound and not just my TV’s.” That’s good to know, thanks.

  • Scott

    I just checked and a local store has it in stock. Just clicked purchase lets see if i can actually pick it up today like it says….

    • Scott

      just got my confirmation email. On my way to pick it up now

  • Chris King

    so which is better this or the Android stick that runs full Android

  • Tommy Kavounidis

    what about spotify?

    • Jon

      I wouldn’t count on it anytime soon. I know the SDK was released but do you know how long it took for the Spotify app to get landscape mode? Track record doesn’t point to it looking good IMHO

  • Alix8821

    As Cool as this is, my Samsung Smart TV does most of this already….

    Although, I’ll prob get it anyway after a few paychecks stop by my bank account

  • Juan Camilo Giraldo Chaverra

    What about hangouts ? A video call on this should be Great !

  • acgr4me

    I was able to get one through Best Buy. They had it available in a certain store. I am not sure why I bought it, but since they say it is the next best thing, I thought to myself why the hell not.

  • Andy Geoghegan

    I see you have the option to stream to a smart TV. Do you need the Chromecast key to do this?

    • Alix8821

      No, I am streaming YouTube from my N7 to my Sammy Smart TV right now… kinda mad i did so. Now not AS excited for Chrome Cast

  • Matthew Fura

    Kellex, if my amp is set to another input, say my TV, will the Chromecast automatically switch over once I start casting something? Or will I have to manually switch inputs to be able to view the casts?

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Yep, if you are watching TV and then decide to cast something, it automatically switches over. Once you are done, you’ll have to manually switch back to TV though.

  • Jon

    I’d love to see an extension for Chrome for Android! My 4G is faster than my ISP.

  • Smeckle

    Kellex, two questions:
    1) How does this affect battery life on the phone/tablet?
    2) Does responding to any texts, emails, etc. on our device during playback stop the playback to the television as well? (guessing yes)
    Thanks!

    • http://www.techmantis.net/ Minja Miketa

      1) I don’t know this for a fact, but since this streams from Wifi I am assuming it won’t affect your device too much.
      2) Responding to texts and even completely leaving the device will not stop the playback.

      • Smeckle

        Thanks! So does this mean that if, say, I’m using my phone as the caster and I want to leave and browse online on my phone while still having YouTube or Netflix playing on the television, that would work? An example would be if the video continues playing and is accessible/controllable through the notification bar (like the Google Music notification controls) or something.

        • http://www.techmantis.net/ Minja Miketa

          Yes, you can leave netflix and come back to it. I am not sure if it will have the same notification bar control, but it will work.

          • Smeckle

            Great, thanks! That’s awesome.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      1) Tough to tell, but it should be lighter on battery than actually streaming, especially since you can turn the display off. Will take more testing to know for sure though.
      2) Notifications coming through do not affect the cast.

  • violator702

    Can you stream from other web browsers besides Chrome, specifically the Android browser?

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Nope. And at this time, you can only stream from Chrome on your computer, not the Android version.

      • Jon

        Hopefully it will get integrated in the mobile version. My 4G is faster than my ISP.

  • Bill D

    Kellex, Can you cast tabs from Chrome on your device or only from a computer?

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Only via computer.

  • http://www.techmantis.net/ Minja Miketa

    You can play music on the TV from your phone then control your phone music with your Pebble. My Pebble can now control the music I play on my tv in the background.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      That’s pretty awesome!

      • http://www.techmantis.net/ Minja Miketa

        You said it can go full screen for those streaming sites, right? So if I was doing Hulu or playing videos from something like cw.tv it can be full screen and not have annoying text around it?

        • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

          Yep, you can go full screen.

          • http://www.techmantis.net/ Minja Miketa

            Last question, can it be turned off and on? I was hearing some people say it might know to change your TVs channel to the Chromecast automatically knowing you were using it and I think that would be awesome. And if it does, will it change back to the previous channel after you stop casting.

          • Dan

            Would like to know that too. Does it switch the input back once you’re finished?

          • Justin W

            I doubt it, but that’s based on my experience with other devices that auto-switched inputs.

  • remark900

    Will this work with say IceFilms? or 1Channel?

  • Hayden7200

    Do I need a home wifi network for this to work or does it work similar to Bluetooth? Will it work if I use FoxFi for the wifi?

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      I’d imagine it could work with FoxFi, but you need some sort of WiFi connection.

  • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

    Made a big update to the post, with video of Hulu, ABC, and Netflix streaming.

  • Mike

    So I can jam this bad boy into the HDMI input on the front of my Receiver and watch the output on the TV or directly into the TV only?

    • kilbasar

      As long as the receiver is outputting to the TV, doesn’t matter, it functions exactly the same as any other HDMI input you might use (DVD player, cable box, etc)

      • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

        Yep!

  • David Swanson

    So I assume with the Apple products it will work the same way – through any of the supported applications? I am guessing if you want to cast from an Apple machine you will have to load and browse with Chrome and then cast the specific tab? Two of my daughters use an iTouch and the other has an iPhone. My wife is iPhone and iPad. I just want to be able to show them how they can use it.

  • David Suarez

    I never received a Netflix code….did you and how soon?

    • http://Twitter.com/ContestsAccount bigrob60

      I ordered mine yesterday and received the email this morning.

  • ConCal

    Not a specific question but, do you think this has the possibility for gameplay where your android device would be the controller?

    • kilbasar

      I was thinking that too, and I assume they’ll eventually add some functionality like that, because it seems far too obvious and useful. Google already has a number of mini-games that run in chrome and use your phone as the controller, so it seems like the tech is already there. Any game that runs in a browser should be possible.

      • AnotherAndroidKid

        Based on the few videos i’ve seen there has been lag from controlling device to output on screen. Wouldn’t work for most gaming IMHO.

  • Chris VanAnden

    I saw on the Remote option it listed your GoogleTV…is this option not available on the Logitech Revue?

    I can stream directly from my phone to my Revue with YouTube, but I hardly use my phone to watch YouTube so that’s a useless feature to me. I’d love to stream right from my browser to my Revue, but I’m assuming it’s not supported with the Revue since I don’t get the “Remote” option =/

  • Ben

    Just got done setting up my Chromecast and can answer some “connecting to a receiver” questions. I have a Pioneer VSW-1020 thats only a year old which I have the CC hooked up to. Works fine when you switch to the proper HDMI. Volume controls still work from phone/tablet/PC, ect. When playing Netflix movies if they are encoded in 5.1 the receiver will switch to Dolby Digital Plus which is like virtual 5.1, not going to be as good as a Blu-ray disc. Some movies are encoded in stereo still such as Avengers which I was surprised by. YouTube and Google Music will decode as Stereo only, if you want 5.1 you need to switch the receiver to Dolby Pro Logic or Circle Surround depending on your receiver. Google Play Movies was the biggest disapointment. The two movies I tried (Transformers and Tron: Legacy) both played naitively in stereo not 5.1. Had to force virtual 5.1 through receiver to get 5.1. Hopefully this is addressed very soon. I also had some experimentation with wi-fi bands. I run everything in my apartment on the 5 Ghz spectrum so I had to drop my phone and tablet down to the 2.4 Ghz to set up the Chromecast initially. I was bummed out by this at first but then realized that after your setup is complete you can go back onto your 5 Ghz band and still control the Chromecast just fine. I believe that covers everything that I’ve found so far.

    • sirmeili

      Since you have it hooked up through your AVR, can you do some tests for me?

      1. If you play Google music through it, can you turn off the tv and see if it continues to play?

      2. If you turn off your tv and only have the AVR can you start casting Google Music to it and hear it fine?

      I ask because some of my equipment for some reason stop sending a signal when the TV is not present and I don’t want to have to have the TV on in order to listen to Google Music through this.

      • Ben

        Turned off my TV and audio shut off instantly…really weird. Only thing connected to my TV is my receiver by one HDMI cable through the HDMI out on the Pioneer. Wasn’t expecting that. One other thing, the rumor that HDMI 1.4 can provide power is false. When I pulled out the power cable the Chromecast shut off immediately. My receiver has 1.4a ports.

        • sirmeili

          That is a bit disconcerting. I was really hoping I could use it without my TV. I guess my only hope is that it is your receiver doing it (though I supposed it could be my receiver doing it with my other equipment as well).

        • sirmeili

          Just so you know, mine works with no TV. There is a “hiccup” when you turn the tv off as the EDIDs are re-established without the TV on, but it does kick back back on after a few seconds..

          My setup is:

          Chromecast into Kinivo 5port hdmi switch (with Roku and OUYA)
          Kinivo into Marantz SR7002 reciever
          Marantz Receiver into Sony Bravia 52″ KDL-52XBR4

          As far as HDMI 1.4 offering power, I believe that is false as well, however there are MHL HDMI ports which do provide power. I don’t know if all MHL HDMI ports are HDMI 1.4 or if they can be any version. They do offer power though (enough to charge a mobile device while hooked up to it). That being said, I don’t think the chromecast supports MHL ports as that is meant to be for Mobile devices (Which the Chromecast really isn’t meant to be).

          • EC8CH

            I plugged the chromecast into an MHL port and it still needed the USB power to turn on. In my experience USB power is a must.

            Since I have an MHL enabled TV it would be nice not to have to use the USB power but I can see why they went the universal route so that everyone with older TVs without MHL could use it. The HDMI 1.4 ports providing power are not true.