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Sunday, December 22, 2013


If you are still looking for that perfect Christmas gift, Chromecast just may fit the bill.

Although Chromecast is still in beta, it is a very nice little tool.  But I should probably point out why I bought my Chromecast, as it will not be the perfect gift for all...

1)  I do not have a smartTV.  I do have a nice, older 32" VIZIO HDTV.
2)  I do not have a smartTV add-on box such as a SamsungTV, GoogleTV, AppleTV, or Roku streaming device box.
3)  I am kind of thrifty for an early adopter.

That said, I also believe that Chromecast might offer something that the smartTVs and add-on smartTV boxes do not, eventually.  And that is, streaming photos, video and music directly from your phone through WiFi.

As mentioned, although Google Chromecast is still in beta, it is pretty good.  However, the truth be told, I did have to exchange my first one for a new one.  The first one I bought on "Black Friday" was only $30.00 at Best Buy and was supposed to come with a $6.00 credit at the Google Play store.  I did get the deal on the price, but was snubbed on the Google Play store $6.00 credit.  According to Google's own instructions, there should have been instructions on how to collect (or redeem) the well advertised $6.00 credit at the Play store on my Best Buy receipt, and there was none.  So again, we run into the truth in advertising dilemna.  I absolutely hate promoting stuff that, whether useful or not, does not include truth in advertising.  As an advertising guy myself, to outright lie to the consumer is absolutely sinful and invites disdain and boycotting.  However, this was a one-day promotion that will be extremely limited to those of us that purchased the Chromecast unit on Black Friday only, so I do think that this product is still worthy despite the promotional problems at Best Buy (and possibly other outlets).

I did purchase the product in-store at Best Buy.  The first one worked for a day.  As I had worked all night at Kohl's starting on Thanksgiving (which I consider an anti-family decision made by Kohl's corporate, as my Thanksgiving was completely disturbed by being required to work that very holiday and not being able to spend it dining and celebrating with my family as most enjoyed), I was very tired but still got out to do a little Black Friday shopping of My own.  After grabbing my selected Black Friday specials at Kohl's, I went to Best Buy specifically to check out the deals there and yet somehow only walked away with the Chromecast.  Upon returning home I set it up easily and had no real issues, though there were a few points inbetween updates that flashed static that looked a little strange.  Still, I watched a couple of YouTube videos and fell asleep watching a movie on NetFlix with it.  The streamed internet video signal I was watching was even much better than when I hooked-up and watched NetFlix video on my (now non-funtioning) dual-core 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra processor powered Asus Transformer Eee Pad (TF101) via its miniHDMI port.

Unfortunately, the next day that Chromecast stopped working.  I contacted Google Chromecast support through online webmail and followed-up with an email (the only way you can contact Chromecast support) and told them that although the device had worked great the previous morning, it was delivering no signal at all today.  Then, all of their support instructions indicated that I should get to a certain screen, apparently not reading that I have no signal from the Chromecast device at all.

Luckily, a couple of weeks later, I was finally able to manage getting all the little pieces, document, box and receipts together and returning the Chromecast to Best Buy at an even exchange and the new device performs flawlessly.  On top of that, I have never experienced a flash of static and point in this unit's young life, so far.  The signal is always rock solid and the device streams video and music (through Pandora) flawlessly.  There hasn't even been one glitch or hiccup in the quality of the playback.

I am still miffed as to why Best Buy failed to support the Black Friday $6.00 Google Play store credit, though.  This was the very promotion that the Google representative pointed out to me, and it was clearly displayed and advertised in the store.  And although this does help to further sour me on Best Buy and even though I did discuss the fact that I didn't get the $6.00 advertised credit, nor did I have any way to do so as shown by the receipt I used to exchange the non-fuctioning Chromecast, but they directed me to take up the issue with the Google lady, who works the same limited hours as I do.  I mean, this was a Best Buy promotion and they are apparently refusing to stand-by their own promotion.  C'MON, MAN!

So, for anyone without a smart HDTV that can already stream stuff, someone who also doesn't have a smart TV streaming device, Google Chrome is a really good choice.  Setup is easy and quick.  The software update doesn't take too long, either.  And you can use your network connected Windows, Linux or Android based desktop, laptop, tablet or smart-phone to control it.

I would like to see more application support, though.  Particularly, I would like to see support for Gallery, so that you can stream photos and video directly from your smart hand-held device without having to first upload things to YouTube or VEO, etc.

Currently, Chromecast supports casting Chrome tabs as well as the following Chromcast enabled apps:

  • YouTube app &
  • Netflix app and
  • Google Play Movies & TV
  • Google Play Music
  • Hulu Plus
  • Pandora
  • HBOGo
  • Vevo
  • Red Bull.TV
  • Songza
  • Plex
  • PostTV
  • Viki
  • RealPlayer Cloud
  • aVia
  • Revision3
  • BeyondPod
(...the above list was pulled directly from the Chromcast apps support page on Dec. 22nd, 2013)

Above all, this product is still in beta and is improving a great deal fast with added support for many apps.  I just don't think that anyone will be displeased with a Chromecast unless they already have a smartTV or smart HDTV device.

Of course, you do need an HDTV and some sort of broadband internet connected computerized device to use this, and it is best used, and I think more conveniently, with hand-held devices (phones & tablets).  But my second Chromecast works flawlessly.  If you are on a busier or stressed load network it might not stream as well, as a great deal will have to do with your available internet bandwidth.  But with most home networks, that shouldn't be an issue.

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