In this post I’m going to talk about the Google Chromecast. When I got one of these, I convinced one of my Brothers-in-law to get one also. Since then, my parents, in-laws, and other Brother- and Sister-in-law have gotten one as well. I even purchased a second one. So, what is it, you might ask? Well, it’s this:
A Google Chromecast is a very small device that connects to one of the ports (an HDMI port to be specific) on the back of your TV and turns it into a Smart or Internet-connected TV. Other similar devices include the Roku, Apple TV and Amazon’s new Fire TV. Basically, these devices connect to the Internet and allow various media-related apps to be displayed on your TV. Some of these apps include Netflix, YouTube and HBO GO. While the Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV come with remotes, the Chromecast doesn’t and can be controlled with almost any mobile device as well as an extension for the Google Chrome browser (an extension is a little piece of software that you add to a major piece of software to make it do extra things). Using one of these devices to send media to the Chromecast is called “casting”. Now, that sentence is a little incorrect. The media you want the Chromecast to display on your TV isn’t really passing through your mobile device, just as the television signal doesn’t pass through your TV remote. Think of it this way, once you find the content you’d like to “cast”, your mobile device tells the Chromecast where to get it from, and to display it.
From whichever device you plan on using, within the app (or the Google Chrome browser) you’ll see this icon: . When you click, push or tap it, a list of all the Chromecasts on your wifi network will show up. You can select the one you want, start the content on your mobile device, and then you’ll see it on your TV. That’s it. Pretty simple.
All that being said…
…as these devices are relatively new, not all apps are compatible with them. Here’s a list on Wikipedia of all the apps that work with the Google Chromecast (as well as which mobile device(s) those apps work with):
Personally, I use YouTube, Google+ Photos, and Plex (a personal favorite of mine and the topic of an upcoming post) a lot. As an example, my kids love the music videos from Big Block Singsong (admittedly, so do my wife and I) shown on Disney Junior, and I’ve created a playlist of all of their videos on YouTube. On my Android-based Samsung Galaxy Note 3, I startup the YouTube app, click the Chromecast icon above, select either one of my two Chromecasts, and then start up the playlist. Then, my kids watch it for the next hour or so, while my wife and I nap.
One last thing I forgot to mention, the Google Chromecast is not expensive at all. It’s just $35 (and sometimes less) and can be purchased on Amazon (where’s it’s currently $29.99) or Google Play, or at Walmart (where it’s currently $32), Staples, BestBuy (where it’s currently $29.99) or Target (where it’s currently $32.49).
As always, email me if you have any questions!
Update: I’ve converted another! My sister has now purchased a Chromecast.