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Google Chromecast: Stick fixes wireless TV

Recently, we have seen several different ways to stream images from the mobile phone to the TV. Apple has its own Airplay system in the Apple TV that broadcasts images over the local network. And on the Android side, the Miracast technology, which uses a direct Wi-Fi connection between the TV and the phone, has become increasingly common. The disadvantage of Miracast, however, is that there are very few devices that support it, and that at least so far it has not been completely problem-free to connect.

Chromecast is definitely not big. Seven centimeters long including the HDMI connector, and just over a centimeter thick.

With Chromecast, Google wants to make it easier, and also try to compete with Apple TV. It’s a minimal little stick that mostly looks like a USB stick, but has an HDMI connector instead of USB. Should it be too tight to push it into the TV at the back, you also get an extension cord.

Then you also need to connect power via a micro-usb at the other end of the stick. As it is still not possible to buy anything other than direct import from abroad, we did not get an American power adapter for our test sample, but any mobile charger works just fine in its place.

With the stick in place, it’s time to install the Chromecas app on your smartphone. It is available for both IOS and Android, but unfortunately is not available in Google Play in all regions, so we had to install it manually. When it’s officially released in Sweden, it won’t be a problem. The app looks for the Chromecast stick on the network, even though it’s not actually connected yet, and through the app you can enter the network’s password and connect for real, so you can start streaming.

Chromecast setup
Getting started is super easy, once you have the app in your mobile and the stick plugged in. By default, the stick has a four-digit code as its name, but you can name it whatever you want. Good if you have more than one if you don’t want to mix them up.

Using Chromecast from a mobile turned out to be an equally fun and boring experience. The funny thing is that it works super easily, and that the image quality is high. We streamed Youtube videos in 1080p and it looks like a better hd broadcast or blu-ray movie, as long as the source material is good and the internet connection doesn’t lag. The sound also syncs nicely. We only tested with stereo sound, but Chromecast should support up to 5.1 surround.

But that was pretty much all we could do. The only other apps that currently have Chromecast support are Google Play Music and Netflix. More are of course on the way, and hopefully there will be Chromecast support for things like Swedish Play channels once it is released here.

But it’s still sad that it doesn’t have a real screencast function, so I can play everything on my smartphone or tablet screen. Maybe I want to view photos, make video calls on the big screen, or play Wordfeud on 55 inches. Here both Airplay and Miracast are ahead.

Via a PC (or a Mac), Chromecast is more fun. There it works together with the Chrome browser, which is equipped with a small plug-in that gives it a small Chromecast icon next to the address bar. Clicking on it allows web pages, web video, Chrome-based apps or anything running inside the browser to be mirrored to your TV.

We get a small delay of about a second between the computer and the TV, so games controlled via the computer may be out of the question. But most everything else should work fine.

Chromecast is available at some Swedish retailers already, but expect that you need a separate power adapter and that installing the Andriod app is a bit tricky. Chromecast doesn’t do much, with what it does it does very well.

Here you have to pay almost 600 kroner for it, in the US it can be bought for 35 dollars, less than half. Hopefully the price can go down in the future if there is a full-scale Swedish launch. Now it is mostly a very expensive replacement for a cord. We also hope that more apps will support it. The web browser in the mobile phone would be a good first step.

Google Chromecast
Manufacturer: Google, www.google.com/chromecast
Product type: Wireless video link.
Connections: Hdmi, micro usb for power supply.
Communication: 802.11b/g/n.
Compatibility: Android, IOS, Windows, Mac OS X.
Movie formats (via Android’s media player): Avi, Matroska (mkv), mpeg1, mpeg2, mpeg4.
Online services: Netflix, Youtube.
Size: 7 x 3.5 x 1.3 cm.
Weight: 29 g.
Award: SEK 600.

Plus: Easy to install and use. Good image quality. Good with Chrome on PC.
Minus: Expensive in Sweden. Limited functionality.
Grade: (6 out of 10)

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