An Honest Google Chromecast Review

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    • #1056

      I’ve got a lot of experience with Google Chromecast and have owned and used one almost every day for a good 6 months. So I figured I should give a review of my experiences with Google Chromecast, an honest and detailed review. An unsolicited review of Google Chromecast…

      When I first bought my Google Chromecast, I was impressed. It’s cheap and highly intelligent. Somehow it manages to let your computer see it on your wireless network without even setting anything up. Very smart indeed, how does it manage to connect to your wireless network without the password? (I think it’s actually somehow acting as a temporary hotspot or ad hoc connection to your PC). Still, very nice, simple setup. You run the Google Chromecast app and follow the very simple steps to set it up, which includes installing the Google Chromecast extension to Google Chrome. That’s right, you don’t even need any other software to cast to the tv, other than Google Chrome!

      That being said, the setup isn’t perfect. I managed to get it working relatively quickly, but I had to do a lot of research on how to set up Google Chromecast to stop it being laggy, which involved buying a new router (oh yes, I forgot to mention, the $35 to buy your Google Chromecast is actually more like $235, because Chromecast only works with 2.4Ghz wireless N routers – the slower network ones. They don’t mention that on the other reviews!).

      Once I’d bought all the gear I needed to setup Google chrome, I was pretty happy with it for a while. It casts well from Google Chrome, unless you want to cast your entire screen to view anything other than a picture slide – playing local video’s works terrible, the video / audio is basically incoherent, so don’t buy a Google Chromecast if you want to use it to play DVDs or video’s you’ve already downloaded. The way that some things work and some don’t kind of reminded me of when I was young and used to use my PC to connect to the TV via my fancy video card, back when the idea of running films on your computers first came out. Those were the days… The things we used to put up with just to be able to (sometimes) play a film on your TV via the computer lol 😀

      So, to sumarise the review so far, Google Chromecast works great for some things but not all. There’s a lot of work to get it going well and a lot of interupted TV planning, so don’t rely on casting a romantic film for date night. Or maybe do, you might have to find other sources of entertainment.

      So, circling back. Google Chromecast doesn’t have a seperate application to cast video to the TV, it simply casts anything that’s displayed within the Google Chrome browser. Clearly Google are selling the Chromecast so cheap to push people towards using their browser so they can get more info about you to get more advert revenue. I’m kind of OK with that (although it’s not awesome). What I’m not OK with, is that casting through Google Chrome isn’t ideal. Why isn’t it ideal?

      1. Firstly, it would be nicer to have a more liberal way to cast things, such as the entire screen.
      2. Secondly, I know that there is a “Cast Entire Screen” option, but it’s still in beta. Actually, when you install the Google Chromecast extension, the entire extension is in beta. Effectively therefore the Google Chromecast device is a beta test, yet they sell it as a completed product!
      3. Finally, there are so many other extensions you can get for Google Chrome, video codec’s, audio codec’s, antivirus software packages, adblockers, etc… that can interfere with hot Google Chrome works, having a Google Chrome extension seems like a really inappropriate solution. In fact, it feels like Google have forgone user experience and product quality in favour of pushing people towards using Google Chrome as their default browser – which goes against Google’s policy “not to be evil”.

      That last point is actually what has inspired me to write this review. My Google Chromecast has become inoperable because the sounds and picture are out of sync. I’ve managed to fix the sounds and picture being out of sync on my Chromecast before, but it stopped working again the very next day. It seems others are having the same issue and submitting bugs to the Chromecast dev team doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

      I would like to keep this Chromecast review honest and unbiased, but it’s hard considering all the issues and cost I’ve had. I guess I’ll just end by saying that the Google Chromecast is great when it works, but the following things are gotcha’s, even for me (who is a senior computer engineer at a large firm):

      • You may need to buy a new router to use your Google Chromecast if your current router doesn’t support 2.4Ghz. This new router will be slower, which is not great for ultra fast fiber users, but fine for standard internet users. Unfortunately the real hit comes when your computer is connected wirelessly and you’re streaming video that has a slightly higher than average framerate or if another user is downloading or transferring files using the same wireless connection.
      • The Chromecast will require a lot of nurturing, regularly, to make it work. If you are not very computer savvy or don’t like a lot of hassle in your leisurely TV watching experience, then Google Chromecast probably isn’t for you.
      • If you want to display video that you’ve already downloaded, Google Chromecast is probalby not for you, unless you can find a way to play the video through Google Chrome (some formats will play through Google Chrome if you just type the location of the file in the browser. Most will not).
      • If you just want to surf the internet, using your TV as a screen, then Google Chromecast will probably be great for you.

      I hope you found this Google Chromecast review useful. Please feel free to sign up to the forum and leave a comment with your opinions and experiences with Google Chromecast. After all, more opinions will provide a better review for the readers.

    • #1698

      Note that the above Google Chromecast review was for the first version of Google Chromecast. The second version should be a lot better, so I’ll review that once I get around to buying one.

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