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Old 07-24-2013, 12:16 PM   Topic Starter
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Google introduces Chromecast - 35 bucks?!?

This looks like it will really test Roku/Apple TV. For that price point, I'm not sure how it couldn't. From what I'm hearing, you can stream anything from your desktop to the connected device, but not from mobile. Only supported apps from mobile will stream. More to come, I'm sure.


Google's taking yet another stab at the living room.

Today Google introduced Chromecast, a stick-like device that connects to one of your TV's HDMI inputs and accepts video pushed from smartphones, tablets and the Chrome browser. It's available for just $35 starting today from the Google Play store in the US, with availability in other countries to follow.

The compact 2-inch device will work with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies and TV, and Google Play Music at launch, with support for future services, including Pandora, coming soon. It's a cross-platform device, with support for both Android and iOS devices, as well as the Chrome browser on both Windows and Mac computers. More details are currently available on the Google's Chrome blog.

Chromecast's approach is different than most devices on the market: it's half-remote, half-streaming media box. The idea is instead of designing a TV-optimized user interface, you'll be able to select and control content from your smartphone or tablet. Browse the Netflix app, find your content, then tell it to play in your living room. Chromecast even goes one step further, by automatically switching your TV to the correct input and giving you the ability to adjust the volume using your mobile devices built-in volume controls. The ability for Android devices to pause content without unlocking the phone first seemed particularly well-implemented.

You'll also be able to juggle control between multiple mobile devices, with Chromecast syncing between connected devices. You can start playing Netflix from your tablet, then later use a smartphone to fast-forward. Using the YouTube app, you can also create a shared queue of content, stringing together several short web videos for an extended viewing session. All-in-all, Google's demos looked particularly slick.

As sleek as the Chromecast device looks, Google's initial presentation skimmed over some of the rougher edges. The specs in the Google Play store list both a USB power cable and a power adapter, which indicate that the Chromecast will have some wires hanging off it -- it's not truly "just a stick". It's the same method PLAiR used to power its similar HDMI-based streaming stick.

The hardware itself supports 2.4 GHz WiFi 802.11, which isn't quite as nice as the dual-band Wi-Fi offered on Roku's Streaming Stick. The internal processor is capable of playing back full 1080p video with 5.1 surround sound.

I haven't had any hands-on time with the Chromecast yet, but from the initial announcement, the biggest limitation appears to be app support. Supporting only four services out-of-the-gate puts Chromecast well behind established players like Roku and Apple TV, and limited functionality was also one of the major knocks against the ill-fated Nexus Q.

However, the big difference with Chromecast ultralow $35 price. It's a lot easier to accept those limitations when you haven't paid much upfront and the low price should also help spread adoption, which should encourage services to include Chromecast at a faster rate.

This is a developing story so stay tuned for further details as we get them.
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