Gadget Review: ChromeCast

In the past few weeks, we have discussed several different options for streaming movies and TV shows directly to your television. We discussed several different options and today we'll be providing a review of one of those products - ChromeCast from Google.

But first, what is a streaming device and why would you want one?

A streaming device allows you to watch online content, like Netflix Instant or Amazon Prime movies directly on your television. This allows you to use your computer, phone or tablet as a remote and can save you the trouble of either watching the shows on your computer or having to get up off the couch to pause or rewind the video. Want to show your friends that hilarious cat video on YouTube using your phone? You can do that with a streaming device.

My Personal Experience:

I bought a Google ChromeCast after making the decision to "cut the cord" and get rid of my cable TV service. While I definitely enjoyed not receiving a bill every month, watching Netflix or TV shows online using my laptop got old pretty quickly. After all, I had a perfectly good television going to waste. Have you ever tried to watch a show with someone on your laptop? Not the most comfortable experience. How was I supposed to introduce my mother to   Sherlock that way?

I read online about the Chromecast from Google and knew I had to give it a try. It's the least expensive streaming device available and sounded like exactly what I needed.

The Good

Setting up the Chromecast was much easier than I expected. You plug it into an HDMI port on your television. It also requires power via USB, but most televisions these days have built in USB ports so that's no problem.

Here's a picture of what the Chromecast looks like when hooked into the television from TechnoBuffalo.

After it's hooked in, it's very easy to set up. Just input your wireless network information and you're good to go! 

Netflix works really well with ChromeCast. You can use your laptop or your smartphone to control Netflix. Unfortunately, in my experience, Netflix was pretty much the only thing on which the ChromeCast worked.  
Which brings us to ...

The Bad
In my own experience, Chromecast Unlike other, more expensive, streaming devices doesn't work well with anything other than Netflix or YouTube. Streaming from Amazon or Google Play isn't possible. Technically you are able to cast the screen of your laptop onto your television, meaning you should be able to watch anything online. However, when I tried this the playback was slow and full of stops and starts. Often the sound would be just a few seconds behind the video making it feel like I was watching one of those old badly dubbed kung-fu movies. 

It also doesn't work with library services like Hoopla, which is a shame as Hoopla is free with my  Bossier Library card. It'd be great if I could share it with friends and family by watching on the television instead of my laptop. 

The Bottom Line
For it's price, the ChromeCast is a great option - as long as you just watch to watch Netflix. For any other services you might find it worth it to pay a little extra for other streaming devices like the Roku streaming stick or Amazon Fire Stick. 

Do you watch movies and television online? Do you use a streaming device? Tell us in the comments below!
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