Earlier this week, Google announced two new products: the second iteration of the Nexus 7 and the Chromecast.
So far, the reviews for the Nexus 7 have been largely positive. Then again, the first generation of the device also received mostly good feedback until complaints of the device’s degradation started popping up. But, let’s not focus on that today.
What is the Chromecast? It puts the Internet on your TV. By plugging the device though an HDMI port, you can stream video from Youtube, Google Play, and Netflix, all controlled through your phone or laptop. The second thing it lets you do is display Chrome from your Mac or PC onto your big screen. Best of all, you can do all of this (wait for it) for just $35.
For the last couple of years now, the television industry has seen a range of new “innovations” to hit the market. There were 3D displays, 4K “Ultra HD”, and Internet TV. When my family decided to upgrade our household’s TV, we ended up purchasing one that lets you browse the web, check the weather, and of course, stream video from services like Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Instant, and Netflix.
Great! Now I can watch my favorite shows online on a bigger screen I thought.
Nope. It sucked. Navigating the interface was awful, the controls never made sense, and it was too cumbersome to find something decent to watch. As for my parents? The last time they explored the feature was the day the first turned on the TV.
What excites me the most about the Chromecast is that I no longer have to rely on my TV’s torturous interface for finding and controlling the videos I want to watch from the Internet. I can now open up Youtube on my Nexus 4, press the Chromecast icon on the video, and voila, it starts streaming right on my television. It takes what I already know how to do very well, and extends it further.
Now, it should be noted that the Chromecast is not streaming the video from your phone or laptop but rather from the Internet. You use your phone simply to find your video, control playback and adjust the volume.
For displaying Chrome on your TV though, you will be sending video and audio from your computer. Better hope your wifi in your home is decent.
Let’s get back to that outrageous price point.
Let that sink in for a moment. How on earth did Google pull that off? Both the Apple TV and Roku cost $99. Then again, there are a lot of things that the Chromecast can’t do that the two can. Foremost, it doesn’t support services like Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, Vimeo, HBO Go, and more. Google says more will come soon. What happens then? Will competitors be forced to drive their prices down or work harder to differentiate themselves?
Perhaps the lessons that Google learned from its ill-fated Google TV experiment have led to a superior product. I can’t determine that just yet though. I ordered mine the other day, and eagerly await its arrival.
Order the Chromecast on Amazon for $35