Chromecast Set Up and Thoughts

8/05/2013 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments



I totally got my Chromecast the day it was announced.  Got in before they ran out of stock and while they were still offering the Netflix promotion.  The reason I'm posting a review as late as I am, is because I didn't want to write a post about it before all the features I'd be using were functioning properly.  Yes, there were some speed bumps and I'll get to that in a minute, but it is working now and it is working great and for $35 everyone that has Netflix should get one.  I've loved mine and--although technically more limited in functonality--it gets far more use than my HTC Media Link (AKA, I actually use it).



It's pretty basic, no frills, down to business device.  It does very little at this point, but what it does do, it does it pretty well.  I expect expanded functionality to come, but don't buy it (or any other product ever) expecting it to get features that it doesn't have out of the box. Not that I don't have confidence in the Chromecast, it's just that I'm tired of reading reviews from angered customers who bought something for a feature that their product may or may not be upgraded to include in the future, only to be let down.  So, if you use YouTube, Google Play TV & Movies, or Netflix, get the Chromecast.  If you have HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, or anything else, just hold your horses.





 Out of the box it is pretty simple.  Just an HDMI dongle.  It cannot be powered through the HDMI, so you have to plug it in to power through micro USB. Some TVs have powered USB ports.  If yours does, congrats.  Mine doesn't, but I have a power strip behind the TV to plug in to anyway.

    

The set up is easy, after plugging it in, make sure you are displaying the proper input (the Chromecast will automatically change to the proper input on some TVs), you will want to either open the App (both iOS and Android) or you can also do it from a Chrome browser on a computer.  If you are going to use a Chrome browser, be sure to connect to the SSID that matches the name of your Chromecast (in my case, it was Chromecast0600).  I had trouble using the App the first time I configured, so I switched to the brower and it worked fine.  I've reconfigured several times since via the app with no difficulty.




First it will detect the Chromecast and ask you to configure it with your wireless network (and give a name to the Chromecast)


Once it's configured just launch the app you want to use (or add the Chrome browser extension on your computer browser) and load your selected media, then tap the "cast" button and specify to play from the Chromecast.  You may need to make sure you have the newest update for your app, or you might not see the cast button.


Pretty easy, right?  Worked like a charm on my 5th try.  My first four tries it wouldn't load anything from Netflix.  YouTube worked fine, though.  After asking around the Android Central Forums, I found someone that had the same issue.  It was resolved by going into Netflix on a browser, going to account preferences, and signing out of all apps, then factory resetting the Chromecast (can be done via the app), and reconfiguring.  It worked like a charm and I've been using it non stop since.






The thing that Chromecast has to offer over other devices--like the HTC Media Link--is it doesn't stream anything directly from your device.  Once you have your media playing on your TV, you can power down your phone, close the chrome browser on your laptop, take a phone call, whatever. It doesn't matter.  It hands the streaming off the the Chromecast dongle and you can use any configured device essentially as a remote control.  The remote feature could use some enhancements, but on the whole it is good.  It replaces your lock screen and finds a seat in your notification screen (on Android, I haven't tested with iOS yet).

Previous to this I had to set up a laptop with my TV every time I wanted Netflix on it, because the Blu-Ray has to be physically plugged in to a router and the router is in a different room and I have to do everything in some of the most backwards ways.

The good news is, the Chromecast makes that all slightly less backwards.  I have a dream that one day I will have various sized screens, some more portable than others, and all my computing will be done in the cloud and streamed to my screen of choice.  For today, that idea lives mostly in fiction, but the Chromecast makes it slightly more of a reality.

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