Make us your home page
Instagram

Chromecast flings Web video to your TV screen — cheaply

Google's new Chromecast gizmo is the smallest, cheapest, simplest way yet to add Internet to your TV. It looks like a portly flash drive and costs just $35.

So what does it do? If you have a Wi-Fi network in your home, the Chromecast can perform two useful stunts.

Stunt 1: It lets you watch videos from YouTube, Netflix and Google Play (Google's movie and TV store for Android gadgets) on your big screen. You use your phone or tablet (Apple or Android) as a remote control.

Stunt 2: The Chromecast displays websites on your TV by broadcasting from Google's Chrome browser on your Mac or PC.

To perform Stunt 1, you open the YouTube, Netflix or Google Play app on your phone or tablet. Find a video to play. A special icon appears at the edge of the touch screen, resembling a rectangle with Wi-Fi signal waves in the corner. To begin watching that video on the TV, tap that icon and choose your Chromecast's name.

Your phone is not actually transmitting anything. The Chromecast gets the video from the Internet directly; you use your phone or tablet only to find the movie and control its playback. You can even adjust the volume using the physical volume keys on the side.

The bad news is that the phone/tablet is the only remote control you've got. So if you want to pause, rewind or mute the video, you first have to find your phone/tablet, wake it up, enter the password if required, and finally reopen the app that's doing the playing.

Otherwise, all of this is effortless and excellent. Even if you can already get Netflix and YouTube, you may prefer the Chromecast, It's just much easier to search for videos, thanks to the on-screen keyboard and voice dictation. You can also set up several videos to play in sequence. That's especially handy for YouTube videos.

On the other hand, Netflix and YouTube aren't much. Rival boxes, like Apple TV and Roku, can bring many other paid and free Internet services to your TV.

Google says that more services are on the way. For example, Pandora radio is up next. Hulu Plus, Vimeo, Redbox Instant, AOL and eight other companies have all suggested that they're coming soon.

Besides, you might not have to lose sleep over the wait, thanks to Stunt 2, the ability to broadcast Web pages to your TV from your Mac or PC. Just fire up the Chrome browser, open the site you want and click that little Chromecast icon on the toolbar. The Web page now appears on the TV, complete with whatever videos you'd like to play.

Stunt 2, alas, isn't as refined or successful as Stunt 1. No wonder Google labels this feature "Beta."

This time, you really are sending audio and video from your computer through the air. So it doesn't work well unless you have a newish, high-horsepower computer and a fast, uncluttered Wi-Fi network. And even then, there's a one-second lag between laptop and TV playback. The video doesn't always seem as crisp as it does during Stunt 1, either, and some people experience occasional stutters or audio glitches.

Chromecast flings Web video to your TV screen — cheaply 08/25/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 25, 2013 7:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]