The Google Chromecast was a revolutionary device that turned any TV or monitor into a smart device. However, with TVs now including better and smarter software, is there still a market for the Chromecast?
The first thing to consider is, what exactly is a Chromecast. Well, the Chromecast was designed to revolutionise in home streaming by allowing the ability to wirelessly stream from your phone, desktop or laptop. The $35 dongle turned your TV into a media center with direct streaming from Youtube, Hulu, Netflix and many more region specific services. Four years since the initial release, 3 iterations have emerged, being the Chromecast 2, Chromecast Ultra and Chromecast Audio. Essentially, you would plug your Chromecast into your TV and connect it to power through the micro USB port. Many TVs have extra USB ports for external hard drives and they all provide enough power for this device. Once it’s turned on, it is very straightforward to connect to your phone and your home wifi.
The original Chromecast supported up to 1080p streaming and handled it reasonably well, however, streaming from a tab often ended up in audio lag with video sync issues. The newer versions have better wifi connectivity meaning lower lag spikes and a better all round experience of the device. However, many new smart TVs have greater software which has surpassed the capabilities of the Chromecast. Samsung TVs allow casting from Samsung devices and can even stream what’s on TV to the device, which you may find really handy when moving around the house. LG and other brands have incorporated similar technologies to allow users to have a better overall experience. Not only this, devices such as your PS4, XBOX ONE, Roku (Telstra TV) and now DVD players have included streaming capabilities to access Spotify, YouTube, Netflix and other video streaming services.
If all these devices can do what the Chromecast can, and do it BETTER, then why are they still around? Well, these devices were initially intended to bridge the gap between ordinary TVs and smart TVs, but now that most TVs have received upgrades in software in internal hardware, the Chromecast has branched off, expanding its capabilities to make it one of the most useful devices for its price.
With the Chromecast, you are able to stream from a VR headset to the TV, allowing other users to see what the VR user is viewing and doing. This can be problematic for those who enjoy a different kind of VR experience. The Chromecast can also support presentations, eliminating the need for any cables between the laptop or phone to the presentation device. Just plug in the Chromecast and start presenting! Not only this, the newer Chromecasts allow users to play certain games on the big screen, which is good for the family. Just don’t expect to play high graphic games on the device. Furthermore, though not available for every TV, the Chromecast allows your phone to function as a TV remote.
The Chromecast is a very capable device, but the rest of the competition are catching up. Google has been fighting hard to keep up the sales and usage of Chromecast with huge incentives and offers. These offers have been free subscriptions to their services, free movie streaming and Google credit to use on the Play Store. Thus, the Chromecast is very much alive despite being out of sight. For only around 30-40 bucks for the newer versions, it’s a good investment for its functionality. Though I must say, it may only be a matter of time before there is even better competition in the wireless casting market.