Google's Chromecast: 10 Things Consumers Should Know About the Dongle

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2013-11-05 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

NEWS ANALYSIS: Although Chromecast is by no means the most popular device in Google's growing hardware lineup, it's one of the most interesting. Unlike nearly every other product Google sells, Chromecast is designed to work in the living room and extend video content from around the Web to just about any television out there. To achieve that, the thumb-drive-like device, which costs just $35, is plugged into a television and then provides access to Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies, TV shows and other content. At first, Chromecast excited consumers so much that it immediately sold out, but now it's readily available. That's partly because Google has been able to get more supply. It's also a result of early adopters getting out of the way and other consumers not quite understanding why they need a dongle that gives them access to Netflix. Google says that the value will come by way of supported apps, but so far, those are few and far between. Chromecast is in limbo, and unfortunately for Google, it is still having trouble getting the word out about the dongle. This slide show aims to clear up some misconceptions about Chromecast and tell consumers what they need to know about Google's device.

 
 
 
  • Google's Chromecast: 10 Things Consumers Should Know About the Dongle

    By Don Reisinger
    0-Google's Chromecast: 10 Things Consumers Should Know About the Dongle
  • It's Very Inexpensive

    The first thing to know about the Chromecast is that it's extremely cheap for a device that allows for streaming video and audio content to a television. At just $35, it's cheaper than a Roku, Apple TV and any other set-top box designed to stream programming to a television.
    1-It's Very Inexpensive
  • Most TVs Come With the Functionality Built-In

    The Google Chromecast is not designed in any way for those who are planning to buy a new HDTV. After all, the vast majority of those products nowadays come with WiFi and application stores built in. The Chromecast is for older devices that didn't ship with support for streaming applications.
    2-Most TVs Come With the Functionality Built-In
  • It's a Google-Centric Device

    Those hoping to have access to services like iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and other streaming offerings will be out of luck right now with Chromecast. Google's dongle is designed to allow users to download from the Google Play marketplace. It's unfortunate.
    3-It's a Google-Centric Device
  • Developers Aren't Jumping at Chromecast

    Google made a fuss recently that it has signed up Pandora for its Chromecast service. But what the company failed to point out was that its application marketplace for Chromecast is extremely small. Until the dongle gains broader appeal, it looks like Google won't be attracting too many developers to the service.
    4-Developers Aren't Jumping at Chromecast
  • There's No Storage, Folks

    Looking for a boatload of storage to place some of the content onto the dongle for viewing on the TV? Think again. Google's Chromecast isn't designed to be a media storage device; it's a media extender. That means no storage.
    5-There's No Storage, Folks
  • There's No Remote With It

    Google's Chromecast ties its users to smartphones or tablets. So, those who might have left their mobile device in another room won't be able to control the dongle until they get their hands on their handsets. Why Google didn't include a remote with the Chromecast is unknown. But it should have done so.
    6-There's No Remote With It
  • There Are Other Cheap, More Capable Devices

    Let's not pretend that the Chromecast is the only cheap device that can deliver programming to a television. Roku boxes can be purchased for as little as $50, and sometimes even less online. The Apple TV costs just $99. Better yet, both the Roku and Apple TV deliver better all around experiences for entertainment seekers. There's something to be said for going with a cheap set-top box.
    7-There Are Other Cheap, More Capable Devices
  • Yes, iPhones and iPads Work With It

    Although Google favors the use of its products with Chromecast—and smartphones and tablets are required to make it work—the company has made abundantly clear that iPhones and iPads can be used to control Chromecast. That's important for Google and for consumers who aren't so heavily invested in Android.
    8-Yes, iPhones and iPads Work With It
  • It Requires Power, Unfortunately

    Google did a good job of sidestepping one very important thing to consider with the Chromecast: It requires power. The device comes with a USB port that can connect a television's port and automatically draw power. The Chromecast also comes with an adapter to convert its USB port to a regular wall plug. So while Chromecast might save you room in your entertainment center, it might still take up room in your surge protector.
    9-It Requires Power, Unfortunately
  • A Sub-Standard AirPlay Competitor?

    The big issue for Chromecast going forward will be overcoming the allure of Apple's AirPlay. A huge number of products support Apple's wireless streaming service, and as long as a person has an Apple TV, they can take apps from their Macs and iOS devices and stream those directly to their televisions without any other tinkering. Google needs to find a way around that mess.
    10-A Sub-Standard AirPlay Competitor?
 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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