Google’s $35 Chromecast Might Redefine the Media Player Market

Many items were moved to the following new posts on 8/17/2013 to reduce the size of this article:


Introduction

Google announced general availability of its Chromecast HDMI dongle on 7/24/2013 (click images for full-size screen captures):

image_thumb5

Correction 7/27/2013: Google reneged on it’s “3 months of Netflix” offer less than a day after introducing Chromecast “due to overwhelming demand.”

Following are links to You Tube videos about Chromecast:

Update 8/2/2013: The official Chromecast Support site is here:

ChromecastHelpScreen

Troubleshooting Tip: If your sending devices suddenly are unable to connect to your Chromecast receiver but all else appears operational on your WiFi network, reboot your WiFi router. This works every time for my Buffalo Air Station router. See the A Diagram of the OakLeaf Systems Video Component Test System at the end of this post for a description of my system.

Pictures of Chromecast internals from Google’s authorization application to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for ID A4RH2G2-42 with shields removed (click the Internal Photos link):

image

Update 8/4/2013: The large chip on the left is a Marvell Armada 1500, previously known as the 88DE3100 System on a Chip (SoC), if Marvell’s assertion in this article is correct: Lucas Mearian (@lucasmearian) claimed “The processor enables high-quality audio, video and graphics” in a deck for his Marvell unveils ARMADA, the high-def media chip in Chromecast Computerworld article of 7/31/2013:

imageMarvell today unveiled a high-performance, high-definition (HD) media processor, the ARMADA 1500-mini chip, which it said is the hardware behind Google’s new streaming TV platform, Chromecast.

Chromecast, announced last week, is a $35 stream-to-TV device that works through a two-inch long dongle that plugs into the HDMI port in a high-definition television.

The Chromecast dongle connects to a user’s Wi-Fi network and allows a consumer to stream content from the cloud or from an open tab in Google’s Chrome browser.

imageMarvell said its ARMADA 1500-mini chip is the brain behind Chromecast. The ARMADA 1500-mini platform is designed to enable high quality audio, video, and graphics, while being energy efficient.

“It is designed to provide instantaneous access to applications such as YouTube, Netflix and other cloud-based content, and deliver a ground-breaking multi-screen experience across smart mobile devices, laptops and HDTVs transforming any big screen into a smart and immersive entertainment device,” Marvell said in its product release. …

For more details about the Armada 1500, see the Marvell’s Reference Design for the Armada 1500 SoC Includes a TV/Cable Tuner/Demodulator section of our Personal Video Recorder (PVR/DVR) TVBoxes and PCTV Tuner Sticks post.

image

Note: Some Chromecast users believe H2G2 in the model number is an abbreviation for Douglas Adams’ Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy. The number 42 has special meaning for H2G2 enthusiasts.

Update 7/28/2013: Here’s Fox TV’s “Google Taking Over Your TV” consumer-oriented TechKnowledge segment by Stuart Varney (@Varneyco) on 7/26/2013:


image_thumb[1]Correction 7/27/2013 to Fox commentary: Chromecast does more than stream Internet TV. You also can stream local MPEG-4/H.264 *.mp4 files you’ve saved to your Windows or Apple PC or laptop. See our illustrated Casting MPEG-4/H.264 Video Files with Chrome from a Windows Laptop tutorial.

Here’s a “How to Cast” video from Google’s Chromecast site:

image_thumb4Casting Internet video from a Windows desktop, laptop or Surface Pro tablet requires mirroring a Chrome browser tab to the HDTV with the Chromecast Extension for Chrome. See our illustrated Chromecasting 1080p Netflix Video Streams from a Windows Laptop tutorial.

Update 8/2/2013: Umer Salman (@umer936) reported Extra Settings on the Chromecast Extension for Chrome in a 7/28/2013 post to the XDA Developers site.

Click here for a Google slideshow of the Ready to Cast background images like this one at 3-second intervals:

ReadyToCastBackground-SFO

I’ve downloaded the Chromecast Sender app to my three android devices:

image_thumb8

Installing the Sender app on my original (2012) Nexus 7 required an update to its Google Drive app. Before installing the Chromecast dongle, all three devices displayed variations on the Tronsmart MK908’s screen shown here:

ChromecastNoDevices_thumb2

Update 7/28/2013: The MK908 MiniPC after installing my Chromcast:

ReadyToCastFromTronsmartMK908_thumb[2]

There’s a Music app available also:

PlayStoreChromecastApps_thumb[2]

Here’s my Acer Aspire laptop and Surface Pro tablet running the Windows Chromecast app, after installing my dongle:

ChromecastAppDialog_thumb[1]

Update 7/27/2013: My Casting MPEG-4/H.264 Video Files with Chrome from a Windows Laptop article is an illustrated tutorial for mirroring tabs of the Chrome browser to your HDTV set. Casting a video file is just an example of this capability.

Update 7/26/2013: Removed the “with Miracast phrase” from the title of this article because the Chromecast only mirrors displays of connected Android and Windows devices when casting a Chrome browser tab. (See Brad Linder’s review below.)


New DIscovery And Launch (DIAL) Protocol Registrants Added by dialmultiscreen.org

Netflix, Inc.’s dialmultiscreen.org site includes what appears to be a complete list of 117 registrants for use use of the DIAL multiscreen protocol as of 1/1/2014. The Google Spreadsheet appears to be in registration date order.

The most interesting recent additions are the following 11 Turner Broadcasting properties:

  1. Turner-TNT-Leverage
  2. Turner-TBS-BBT
  3. Turner-NBA-GameTime
  4. Turner-TNT-FallingSkies
  5. Turner-CNN-TVE
  6. Turner-HLN-TVE
  7. Turner-CN-TVE
  8. Turner-AS-TVE
  9. Turner-TBS-TVE
  10. Turner-TNT-TVE
  11. Turner-TRU-TVE


Chromecast is ZDNet’s #8 Tech Product/Trend for 2013

Stephen J. Vaughn-Nichols’ (@sjvn) asserts Chromecast sneaks into the office in the eighth of ZDNet’s top products and tech trends for 2013 of 12/13/2013: Which products, platforms, and big ideas made the most impact in 2013?:

Chromecast sneaks into the office
imageA $35 dongle that weighs less than an ounce, plugs into a standard HDMI port, and streams from the web or a PC? The obvious application in the living room, where sufficiently tech-centric hobbyists can use a Google Chromecast as yet another way to throw Internet videos onto a big-screen TV. But that’s just a sideshow, as far as we’re concerned. This little device has tremendous potential as a useful business tool that will really shine in corporate conference rooms.

For example, you can cast any video stream that plays in the Chrome web browser to any HDTV equipped with a Chromecast. That turns out to be a very effective way to push a web-based video-conference—Google+ Hangouts, WebEx, or GoToMeeting, for example—to that big screen at the end of the conference table. No more awkward huddling around a small PC screen. And as a bonus, you’ll use a fraction of the bandwidth that your office would use if a dozen employees are tuning in to the same conference from separate devices.

The Chromecast is also a potential game-changer for sales and marketing pros who spend their time on the road making presentations to small groups. Lugging around a projector and going through the incantations to make it work can suck the soul from even the most battle-hardened road warrior. But if you know you’re going to be taking your show to a room equipped with a modern TV and WiFi, you can set up the Chromecast in a matter of minutes and deliver your web-based presentation effortlessly, putting the business back into show business.


Janko Roettgers Analyzes Chromecast’s Immediate Future

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) posted Chromecast in 2014: an open SDK, big international plans and maybe even new devices to the GigaOm blog on 12/13/2013:

imageSummary: Google wants to bring Chromecast to a number of other countries in 2014, and make casting a standard that works on multiple devices with thousands of apps.

Google landed a bit of a coup with Chromecast this year, launching a device that no one saw coming but that has proven to be very popular. Next year, the company plans to take Chromecast even further by bringing it to a number of international markets, opening up the SDK to make hundreds (if not thousands) of apps Chromecast-compatible, and partnering with consumer electronics companies to bring cast functionality to other devices.

imageMaking Chromecast more widely available around the globe is one of the company’s biggest goals for the device in the coming year, said Google VP of Product Management Mario Queiroz in an interview with Gigaom this week. “We are going to be launching in a number of international markets,” he said, adding that people are going to be “pleasantly surprised” by the scope of this international expansion.

One reason for this fast move into other countries is that Google wants to encourage publishers in those markets to make their apps Chromecast-compatible, which is part of a bigger goal to bring as many apps as possible to the device. “There will be an expectation from consumers that any and every app will be ‘castable,’” Queiroz said.

More waves of apps, and an open SDK, are on their way

Google has up until now only allowed a few partners to launch apps on Chromecast. Initially, Chromecast users could only access media from Netflix as well as Google’s own YouTube and Google Play services. The company then added support for Hulu Plus, Pandora and HBO Go. Earlier this week, it unleashed a wave of ten apps, including the popular media center app Plex, music service Songza and RealNetwork’s new cloud player.

Google hasn’t opened up Chromecast to every publisher yet because it hasn’t finalized the SDK, according to company representatives. At launch, Google made a preview SDK available to developers, allowing them to build but not distribute apps. Queiroz said that nonetheless “hundreds of developers” have signed up to add Chromecast capabilities to their apps.

Queiroz declined to say when exactly Google plans to release the SDK next year, but he told me that the company has been making progress in getting ready for a public release. Part of these efforts included a recent internal Chromecast hackathon. The company hosted around 40 developers from 30 companies in its offices in Mountain View this past weekend, giving them access to the most recent, still-unpublished version of the Chromecast SDK, with the goal of getting feedback that will shape the final version.

However, even without an open SDK available, there is good news for consumers: Queiroz told me that Google will be making a few more waves of Chromecast apps available in the near future.

Building an ecosystem around casting

As more apps become available Chromecast should become more interesting for consumers, but Google is also looking to momentum from developers to advance on an even bigger goal: The company wants to turn Chromcast’s technology, also dubbed Google Cast, into an ecosystem and work with consumer electronics manufacturers to bring it to other devices. “Our broader goal is for Google Cast to be established as a standard,” Queiroz told me.

Google has been working towards this goal for some time. Even before the launch of Chromecast, it introduced a multiscreen technology called DIAL together with Netflix. DIAL helps mobile and connected devices to discover and talk to each other, and it’s a core component of Chromecast’s technology (for more on DIAL, also check out this video interview with YouTube Product Manager Sarah Ali and Netflix Partner Devices Director Scott Mirer.)

DIAL has been a quiet success story in 2013, and is now being added to TV sets and connected devices from many major manufacturers. But DIAL is only part of the puzzle. Google’s casting technology adds playback and control functionality to the mix, and simple APIs help to add cast functionality to mobile apps on both Android and iOS. It’s that complete package that Google now hopes to bring to devices from other manufacturers as well.

Queiroz expressed optimism that this will happen sooner rather than later, telling me that the company already had “serious conversations” with a number of consumer electronics manufacturers.

The long shadow of Google TV

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Google has tried to bring the consumer electronics industry together. The company’s Google TV software was supposed to become the go-to platform for smart TV manufacturers, mimicking the success that Google had with Android in the smartphone world. That didn’t happen. A number of companies, including Sony, Vizio and Logitech, tried their hands at Google TV, but their products, plagued by complexity and resistance from broadcasters, never became mainstream, and Logitech ended up losing millions of dollars.

Google has now taken steps to merge Google TV with Android and is even getting ready to kill the branding, instead just talking about Google services for Android-based TV devices. And there have been internal shifts: A significant number of former Google TV developers are now working on Chromecast or other products, and the Chromecast team is now in the same building that used to exclusively house the Google TV development. Queiroz declined to comment on Google’s organizational structure, only saying that “both projects will continue.” But with long-time Google executive Sundar Pichai in charge of both Android and Chrome, it’s no accident that Google TV stick is now called Chromecast.

The difference is in the numbers

There are significant differences between Chromecast and Google TV, even beyond the fact that Chromecast is simply a whole lot easier to use. For one thing, Google decided to go out and build its own device this time around, instead of relying on launch partners from the consumer electronics industry.

“This enabled us to be very nimble,” said Queiroz. Without competing interests and a multitude of possible implementations, Google was able to keep its focus on two things: price and usability. “We really tried to build the simplest possible device that we could,” he told me.

That strategy has seemingly paid off. Google hasn’t released any official Chromecast sales numbers, and Queiroz didn’t want to comment on that subject either, other than telling me that Chromecast sales exceeded the company’s expectations. But there are some indicators that sales have indeed been going very well.

After its launch in July, Chromecast quickly became the number one selling electronics device on Amazon, even outselling the retailer’s own Kindle Fire tablets. In recent weeks, Chromecast has occasionally slipped from that number one spot, but only a little, and it has remained in the site’s top 3 ever since.

Walmart.com has been listing Chromecast as a Best Seller, and the Chromecast configuration app has been downloaded between one and five million times from the Play Store. None of these details provide us with hard sales numbers, and the app installs in particular should just be seen as anecdotal evidence — but Google TV never even came close to any of these achievements.

No one at Google would publicly say that Chromecast may be the success story that Google TV never was, but there is a palpable new level of optimism with regards to the company’s plans for the living room. Queiroz told me that the Chromecast team has been “incredibly proud and happy” about the reception that Chromecast has received, and added that everyone involved early on knew Google was onto something with this one. Said Queiroz: “We knew it was going to be something special.”

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Full disclosure: I’m a registered GigaOm analyst.

There’s little doubt that sales of the Chromecast device have exceeded those of all current and potential competitors combined. The question is whether the vanilla Chromecast dongle’s elementary feature set can be expanded to replace multi-function display devices, such as EZCast and the forthcoming OVO, as well as full-scale Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes. See my OVO Video Player’s Indiegogo Crowdfunding Faltering at 35% with Only 9 Days Left article of 8/26/2013 for more details on that device; I’m expecting the one I purchased via Indiegogo to arrive shortly. (OVO had raised a total of US$37,051 against it’s $100,000 goal when the funding process closed on 8/30/2013.)


Janko Roettgers Describes New Chromecast Apps Post Hackathon

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) reported Chromecast gets Plex, Vevo, RealPlayer, Viki and more with massive app update in a 12/10/2013 article for the GigaOm blog (cross posted):

imageSummary: Chromecast now plays local and cloud content, thanks to support for Plex, Avia and Realplayer Cloud. The streaming stick also added Revision3, Vevo, Viki and others.

A few months ago, a developer source told me that Google planned to release apps for its Chromecast streaming stick in waves. Well, guess what: The first wave is here, and it’s a massive one: Chromecast got support for local media playback, podcasts, Facebook photos and more Tuesday, thanks to newly-added support for apps from Plex, RealPlayer Cloud, Vevo, Viki and others.

Chromecast users will be especially happy about local file playback, a feature that had been requested ever since the device launched in July. Now, there are multiple options available, including the popular media center app Plex.

The makers of Plex had long expressed interest in Chromecast, but never actually announced that they were going to add support for it. However, we reported last week that a user had found Chromecast configuration files within Plex, suggesting that support was imminent.

Ready to cast: Plex users can now play videos on Google’s Chromecast.

Now, Plex is adding Chromecast support to its iOS, Android and web apps, all of which offer access to local content, online video channels and personal media backed up to the cloud. For now, only casting of video is supported, but support for music and photos is promised for the near future. Also, Plex is initially only giving paying PlexPass members access to Chromecast capabilities, but the company usually releases these kinds of features to everyone soon after.

However, Plex isn’t the only option to cast local or personal media. Another app added to the Chromecast roster Tuesday is Avia, a media player for Android that allows users to beam videos, photos and music from their mobile device or any local DLNA server, including network-attached storage drives, to Chromecast. Also clever: Avia indexes photos on Picasa, Dropbox and Facebook, allowing users to show any of their photos on any of these services on their TV. However, Chromecast support is only available to users of the paid version of Avia.

Chromecasting from the RealPlayer Cloud web app.Chromecasting from the RealPlayer Cloud web app.

And there’s one more option for personal media: RealNetworks added Chromecast to its RealPlayer Cloud Tuesday, which is the company’s new cloud storage and playback offering for all your mobile media. Chromecast users can now use it to cast videos from iOS, Android and the web. Users who are logged into the same account can also play content from other devices in the same network, and for example use their iPad to cast videos stored on their phone.

In addition to these three apps, Chromecast also added support for the Android podcast player app BeyondPod, the Washington Post’s PostTV, online music service Songza, RedbullTV, Revision3, VEVO and Viki, the international TV platform that is now owned by Japan’s Rakuten.

Full disclosure: I’m a registered GigaOm analyst.

imageGoogle’s official list of Chromecast apps is here. When I updated this post, the New arrow links for apps (presumably to their Google Play store entries) threw HTTP 404 error messages.

Caveat Emptor: Before purchasing paid versions of Chromecast-compatible apps from the Google Play store, be sure to read user comments. Some are reported to require factory resetting your Chromecast before they work.


Liam Tung asserts “Android screencasting looks to be in the works, but it’s a feature that Google is planning to keep to itself for now”

Liam Tung (@LiamT) reported Android 4.4.1 update hints at Android Chromecast screen mirroring ‘very soon’ in a 12/9/2013 article for ZDNet:

imageGoogle appears to be planning to extend screencasting capabilities in Chromecast to allow Android devices to mirror the screen to TVs.

Google released Android 4.4.1 last week, primarily to fix the camera in the Nexus 5, but as with many Android updates from Google, changes to the source code Google submits to the Android Open Source Project often contain clues as to what’s in store.

imageDevelopers at Funky Android over the weekend released a list of changes that were included in the update, including hints that Google is planning to let Android devices mirror their screens with nearby TVs, via Google’s Chromecast.

Chromecast is the company’s $35 answer to Apple TV. The dongle plugs into the HDMI port of an HDTV, which in theory allows the Android device to share its display with a larger screen. However, at the moment, Chromecast only permits screencasting through supported apps — such as Chrome, Netflix, Hulu and a few others.

Koushik Dutta, co-founder of Cyanogen Inc, which makes its own Android firmware, found the reference to the feature in Funky Android’s change logs for the latest Android release, noting: “From the patches I see in 4.4.1, they’ll be adding Android mirroring to Chromecast very soon.”

But, Dutta adds, the feature will be closed to third-party developers (besides OEMs), meaning it won’t be able to support projects that aim to use the same Android screencasting functionality with non-Chromecast hardware. Android owners do have other means of screencasting, however, such as with several dongles that support Miracast.

While Chromecast is available for purchase outside the US, usually at higher prices than in the country, so far Google has focused on its efforts around content deals with US providers such as HBO.

Meanwhile, a group of Danish developers is attempting to build an alternative to Chromecast, but one of the obstacles they face in supporting screencasting from Android devices is that Google won’t permit third-party access to the Android APIs that would make such functionality possible.


Chromecast is Time Magazine’s #1 Gadget of the Year

Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) listed Chromecast as #1 in his Top 10 Gadgets article of 12/3/2013 for Time Magazine:

1. Google Chromecast

chromecastathomeJared Newman for TIME

imageInstead of trying to do everything — like Google’s famously ambitious and unsuccessful Google TV — this thumb-sized gizmo does one thing, does it as simply as possible and does it for the impulse-purchase price of $35. Plug it into one of your TV’s HDMI ports, and you can fling videos and other content from your laptop, tablet or phone to the big screen, no wires involved. Lots of companies have built devices to do this; Chromecast is the first one that gets it right.


Stephen J. Vaughn-Nichols Describes Great Things You Can Do with a Chromecast

Stephen J. Vaughn-Nichols’ (@sjvn, pictured below) summary of his 5 great things you can do with a Google Chromecast article of 12/3/2013 for ZDNet reads: “Some people wonder what in the world they’d do with a Chromecast. Friends, there are a lot of great things you can do with a Chromecast besides watching funny cat videos on your 42-inch HDTV.”

imageMy buddy David Gewirtz bought a Google Chromecast and now he’s blaming me for it. The Chromecast, for those of you who don’t know it, is a USB flash-drive stick-sized device that enables you to send anything you can see with the Chrome Web browser to your TV. David, however, isn’t sure what to do with his latest gadget. Well, I have five great things that he, and you, can do with a Chromecast.

zdnet-cnet-google-chromecast-1-600x399Say howdy to Chromecast, the smallest and easiest way to bring Internet video to your HDTV.

imageLike David, I have far more cord-cutting Internet-TV devices than any normal person would ever fill their home theater with. I’ll see his Apple TV, XBox 360, PS3, directly connected Mac mini, and Roku box with my two Apple TVs, pair of Roku boxes, TiVo Premiere, and Internet enabled Sony and Samsung Blu-Ray DVD players. Even with all that gear between us, there are still good reasons to buy the $35 Chromecast.

1) Watch any Web content on the big screen.

Not all Web content is created equal. The ordinary run of Internet media extenders, such as the Roku line, can show Internet video channels such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube. But, some Internet TV shows are only available via websites, such as Hulu-only content and many of CBS’s prime-time shows. If you want to watch these shows on your HDTV you need a Chromecast and any device that can run the Chrome Web browser, or a late-model Apple TV paired with a newer Apple computing device that can support AirPlay Mirroring

Yes, it would be nice if we could just easily stream everything and anything to our “smart” TVs, but we’re still long, long way from being able to do that. For the next few years, if you want access to all Internet-enabled video you’re going to need several devices but you’ll not be able to see everything that’s available from cable and satellite TV vendors. Darn it!

2) Watch “restricted access” Internet video on the big screen.

Living in the US, I can’t easily watch my favorite current UK television shows like the second season of the BBC’s The Paradise or the fourth season of ITV’s Downton Abby. Were I living in the U.K., I wouldn’t be able to access Hulu. Thanks to Web proxies, such as Media Hint, and virtual private networks (VPN)s, I can set my computers up so I can watch international TV shows.

These work by providing me with an Internet Protocol (IP) address in a country where the content is available. Then, with Chromecast, I can watch these programs on my “real” TV instead of one of my PCs or laptops. It’s a lot more fun watching these shows on a big screen then even on the best of my computer displays.

3) Watch your own videos

For some reason, it’s not well-known but you can use Chromecast to watch videos off your local or network drives. True, Chromecast has no media-server support as such, but it’s easy to get around this. All you have to do is open a video file in Chrome with the command “Control-O.” Since Chrome can natively play AVI, MP4, M4V, MPEG, OGV, and WEBM videos, you can then watch you own videos on your TV with no fuss or muss.[*]

Personally, I’ve converted almost all my DVD collection into MP4 videos. So, almost my entire video library now lives on a mult-terabyte Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. This approach isn’t for everybody, but for a pair of movie fanatics like my wife and me, it works quite well. 

4) Video-conferencing

I’ve been using video-conferencing since the 1980s and ISDN gave us the then remarkable speeds of up to 128-kilobits per second. That part of 80s technology I don’t miss, but what I do miss is the big screens we used for videoconferencing in those days. Now, thanks to Chromecast, I can really see everyone I’m talking to in a Google+ Hangout, my preferred group video-conference service. On my 42″ Sony HDTV, video-conferencing is once more a pleasure.

5) Replace laptop projector

I do some public speaking and consulting. A lot of that is in small meeting rooms. To make my points visually, I’ve used a series of Epson InFocus projectors over the years. These are nice, but, like any projector, they take up room, weigh down my laptop bag, go out of focus, and the bulbs always burn out at the worst possible times. Any business road-warrior knows the drill.

Now, thanks to the Chromecast, I just make sure I can get a modern TV in the space and I’m good to go. It is so, so much easier than futzing with projectors, that I don’t know how I ever managed without it.

So, there you go, three fun and two business reasons why Chromecasts are great, little handy Internet to TV devices. Have fun with yours David and everyone else out there with a Chromecast to call their own. 

Related Stories:

* You probably won’t find “Watch[ing[ your own videos” by tab casting with the Chrome browser running on a PC to be very satisfactory unless the computer has at least a quad-core Intel i5(or better an i7) CPU and you have a modern, high-speed WiFi router.


Walmart Selling Chromecasts from Stock for US$35

James Mosvick (+James Mosvick) reported Walmart’s Chromecast offering in an 11/24/2013 item for the Google+ Chromecast community:

image

Chromecasts were available for in-store pickup on 11/25/2013 at two of three Bay Area stores. From the description:

Everything you love is now on your TV. Chromecast is the easy way to enjoy online video and music on your TV. Plug it into any HDTV and control it with your Android smartphone or tablet, Apple iPhone/iPad or laptop. There are no remotes required. Cast your favorites from Netflix, YouTube, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, Google Play and Chrome to your TV with the press of a button.

With Chromecast, you can easily enjoy your favorite online content on your HDTV — movies, TV shows, videos, music, photos, websites and more. No more huddling around small screens and tiny speakers. Chromecast automatically updates to work with a growing number of apps.

Chromecast works with devices you already own, including Android devices, Apple iPhone and iPad, Chrome for Windows and Chrome for Mac. Browse for what to watch, control playback and adjust volume using your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You won’t have to learn anything new. Get started in three easy steps.

Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player:

  • Plugs into your HDTV
  • Streams media from laptops, tablets and smartphones
  • Compatible with PC, Mac, iOS and Android
  • Plug and Play
  • No remotes necessary
  • Everything you love, now on your TV

What’s missing from Walmart’s propaganda is any mention of WiFi or the necessity of a modern WiFi access point.


James Mosvick Posts a List of Useful Chromecast Links

imageJames Mosvick (+James Mosvick) posted If you are a new user, save the URLs below in your Chromecast bookmarks to the Google+ Chromecast community on 11/24/2013:


Amazon Selling Chromecasts for US$29.99 on Black Friday

Mashable (@Mashable) included a reduced price for Chromecast devices as #7 of its Black Friday Deals on Amazon slideshow of 11/24/2013:

image


Janko Roettgers Reports Wider Retail Availability for Chromecast

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) posted Chromecast now available at Staples, Verizon Wireless and Motorola to the GigaOm blog on 11/22/2013:

imageHot on the heels of the HBO Go app launch, as well as signs that more apps may be supported soon, comes the news that Chromecast is now more widely available for sale. Google’s TV streaming stick started selling at Staples stores as well as through the retailer’s website this week. Motorola is also selling the device through an online store you probably didn’t know existed, and Verizon has begun to sell it online as well as in its flagship store in the Mall of Americas in Minneapolis as well. There’s no word on when Chromecast will find its way into regular Verizon stores, or other retailers, just yet.

As you’re undoubtedly aware, Amazon and Best Buy have been selling Chromecast devices since the git-go.

Full disclosure: I’m a registered GigaOm analyst.


Google Adds Chromecast Promotion to the Play Apps Store 

With this screen that doesn’t show any new third-party content providers (other than HBO Go, see below):

image


Brad Linder Claims More Chromecast Apps Coming from Google Hackathon

Brad Linder (@BradLinder) reported More Chromecast apps on the way: Google hosting hackathon in December in an 11/22/2013 article for his Liliputing blog:

imageGoogle’s Chromecast is a tiny, inexpensive device that lets you stream internet audio video to your TV. As of late November, 2013 that means you can stream media from a very small group of sites including Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go.

But soon you may be able to do a lot more with Google’s $35 Chromecast device. Google is inviting developers to Mountain View to participate in a hackathon December 7th and 8th in advance of the launch of the Google Cast SDK.

In other words, get ready for a rush of third-party Chromecast apps.

imageGoogle already has a beta software developer kit, and folks have been finding ways to do interesting things with a Chromecast, such as streaming video from officially unsupported sites, sending video straight from your phone (or cloud storage) to your TV, or flinging media from your PC.

But until the official SDK is available, Google has basically stopped developers from widely distributing apps that do those things.

The Chromecast device itself features a low-power processor with support for HD video playback and software which is based on Google Android and Chrome OS. It’s capable of doing a lot more than simply streaming videos from YouTube and a few other sites, and soon it may be able to do much more.

I’ve been using a Chromecast for the past few months almost exclusively to stream videos from Netflix, and it’s more than justified the $35 price I paid for it. Anything extra will just be a bonus.


Koushik Dutta Noted the Release of the Google Cast SDK

From @Koush’s Google+ message: Upcoming release of the Google Cast SDK. Moment of truth, this should be interesting:

image


Ben Schoon Reported on 11/18/2013 that Motorola Is Now Selling Chromecasts

Ben Schoon (@NexusBen) announced Motorola Starts Selling Chromecasts in an 11/18/2013 article for the iTechTriag blog:

Screenshot 2013-11-18 at 6.58.26 PM.png

imageUnexpectedly, Motorola has silently selling Google’s Chromecast on it’s own website for the same $35 as in other places. The Chromecast is listed in the accessory section of Motorola’s shop alongside Bluetooth speakers and charging accessories. The Chromecast is still only available in the U.S. just like the Moto X. Considering the Chromecast is still sold out in several places, it’s nice to see Motorola taking orders for the device.

Screenshot 2013-11-18 at 7.00.58 PM.png

I believe Amazon and almost all Best Buy U.S. stores now have Chromecasts in inventory.


Greg Hortin Describes How to Set Up a VPN and Unblock Netflix Overseas

Greg Hortin posted a Netflix with Android and Chromecast outside the USA (In Australia in my case) tutorial to Goggle+’s Chromecast community on 10/20/2013:

imageDue to fortunate timing and a slip up with Amazon shipping I finally managed to get hold of two Chromecast’s. http://goo.gl/rHgIBR

The Google services (Play Movies, Play Music and YouTube) work great and I’m a huge fan of the radio and get lucky radio feature (think iTunes Genius) with Play Music. Netflix however is not designed to work outside its geo blocked territories and the Chromecast has its DNS settings hard coded so the standard VPN solution doesn’t work.

Through a bit of internet based research I managed to find a combination of solutions to this problem. The information is freely available on the internet but I thought I might put together a guide based on the solutions that worked for me. This may come across as pretty complex but its pretty straight forward once you get going.

How to
Step one: Obtain a Chromecast (not sold in stores outside the USA). EBay is a good source of slightly overpriced Chromecast’s, though with the release of the Chromecast app to all users on the Play store this may point to an upcoming global release.

Step two: Configure your Chromecast using the app from the Play store http://goo.gl/h2IEpX or using the web interface.

Step three: Get yourself a VPN. I was using the Hola unblocker plugin for the desktop Chrome browser to watch Netflix, its free and it works great but for the Chromecast you are going to want a VPN service. I went with unblock US http://goo.gl/fj9Xx .

Step four: Setup the VPN with your router. Log into your router and go to the WAN/ADSL setting page. Un tick “Obtain DNS Automatically” then input the primary and secondary DNS setting from the unblock US guide page (or for your VPN provider of choice) 111.118.175.56 and 118.127.33.48 (these will be different if you’re using another VPN provider). Apply the settings and then restart your router.

Step five: Download the Netflix app. For the purpose of this guide I will assume you already have a Netflix account. The lag free 3.0 version APK of the app can be found at +Android Police http://goo.gl/6OkGDf . If this is the first time you are using an off market APK you may need to change settings to allow it on your phone or tablet. If your VPN is setup correctly you will be able to log into and use the Netflix app on your phone or tablet, sending to Chromecast will error out (see hard coded DNS mentioned above).

Step six: re-routing the hard coded DNS setting of the Chromecast via your router. This part is a little convoluted but if you can do step four you should be OK here. There is a guide from a user “rufree2talk” on XDA developers that explains how to trick your Chromecast with pre routing http://goo.gl/3znlyE . My router/modem doesn’t support static route so I was not able to use the setting in the exact way suggested.

Instead I had to send the iptable strings to my router using telnet, I used a guide from user “Blyth” on Whirlpool http://goo.gl/foPQJU to get going with Telnet as I had never really used it before. Per the Whirlpool guide I downloaded Putty (specifically PuttyTel) from http://goo.gl/QGh0sf . Type your router IP address into PuttyTel (Host name) and then press the open button. You will be presented with a command prompt asking for you router username and then password. After you log in you should see a “>” at this point you need to enter the following two strings (if you are using a different VPN provider the destination IP address will be different:

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -d 8.8.8.8 -j DNAT –to-destination 111.118.175.56

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -d 8.8.4.4 -j DNAT –to-destination 118.127.33.48

You can copy and paste those strings into Putty/Telnet and will need to press enter after each one. Unless you get some kind of error message you can assume each string was entered successfully. From what I understand these setting will be undone if you restart your router, I don’t need to restart mine often so I have the strings in notepad ready to re-enter them when I do.

Step seven: Its working! At this point you should have Netflix working on your Chromecast (YouTube Play Movies/Music will continue to work fine). I’ve found the picture quality on my ADSL2+ internet service to be fantastic, better than it looks on the browser version by far, it also loads quicker for me too. I’m not sure if the quality and speed has anything to do with not using Silverlight (I’ll restrain my urge to hate on Microsoft stuff at this point).

I hope this guide is of some assistance, having Netflix working has made my Chromecast experience even better and I’m looking forward to more app support on the way. If you try to follow this guide and get stuck or have any questions please let me know.
#chromecast #australia #netflix.


Chris Welch Reported a new Hulu Plus iPhone App for Chromecast

Chris Welch (@chriswelch) posted Hulu Plus for iPhone adds support for Google’s Chromecast on 10/21/2013:

Chromecast (1024px)

imageJust as it promised to do, Hulu has today enabled support for Google’s Chromecast on iPhone. Users can begin streaming Hulu Plus content to their TVs by installing an update for the app that’s available now. Hulu first rolled out Chromecast integration on Android and iPad, joining Netflix as the latest third party to support the miniature $35 streaming stick.

imageAccording to the company, “Hulu Plus integration with Chromecast will convert your app into a custom remote letting you control video on your Chromecast connected TVs, while allowing you to browse the Hulu Plus app directly from your iPhone.” The required update can be downloaded from the iOS App Store.

With two major streaming services accounted for, Google is also reportedly working to enable HBO Go streaming for Chromecast.


Chromecast App Became Available Internationally from the Google Play Store on 10/18/2013

Gaurav Shukla (@gauravshukla) reported Chromecast Android app now available internationally in a 10/19/2013 post to the Android OS India site:

imageGoogle seems to be getting ready to release Chromecast media streamer outside the United States. The company late Friday rolled-out the official Chromecast Android app internationally, which was earlier only accessible to US Google Play users. chromecast

Now, Android users in India and other countries will be able to download the official Chromecast app directly from Google Play. It is good news for Chromecast owners who are not living in the US (and using imported units) and also seems like the first step in making Chromecast hardware available in more markets.

imageThere is no official word on when the Chromecast dongle will be released in other countries but keep an eye out for the availability of Chromecast in your country-specific Google Play store and other popular e-retailers.

Coming back to Chromecast app, it is used for setting up Chromecast hardware in order to make it work with your Wi-Fi network and also to manage your Chromecast settings.

Download Chromecast app from Google Play

Members of Google+’s Chromecast Community have reported availability in the UK, Sweden and Germany also.


Fast Shuffle: Amazon Retracts Chromecast Sales Outside the US

Alex Dobie (@alexdobie) reported Amazon.com no longer taking international Chromecast orders in a 10/9/2013 post to the Android Central site:

… But existing orders seem to be safe

imageFor most of yesterday buyers outside the United States could place orders for Google’s Chromecast streaming dongle through Amazon.com, in a way that’s usually not possible for consumer electronics on the U.S.-based site. The opening allowed international buyers to get hold of a Chromecast before it’s officially available in their country, and often for less than the high prices found on eBay and elsewhere.

Chromecast on Amazon
imageToday, though, Amazon has closed that particular loophole, and attempting to select a non-U.S. shipping address for your Chromecast order produces the error message above. On the upside, orders placed yesterday from outside the U.S. seem to be shipping (we’ve already received our dispatch notification), so quick-witted international customers should still get their devices in the days ahead. U.S. buyers can continue to order Chromecast through Amazon.com, as well as the Google Play Store.

More: Chromecast review

Source: Chromecast on Amazon.com

I found it surprising that Chromecast dongles would be available in locations that couldn’t download required Chromecast apps from the Google Play store (see post below.)


Amazon Expands Geographical Availability of Chromecast Dongle without App Access

Neils Bosch (@NielsBoschh) reported Google Chromecast now available in the UK, Europe and Australia in a 10/8/2013 post to the AmongTech blog:

image

imageGoogle‘s own video streaming device launched back in July and was only available in the US until now. Amazon is now shipping Chromecast to several countries in Europe (Spain, France, Germany and Finland) , to the UK, Hong Kong, India and to Australia. However, the Chromecast App however is as of now only available in the US and on Google’s official website they still say it is currently only available in the US.

Amazon will sendship your Chromecast to the UK for £22.5960  This is without shipping cost and to Australia for $36.42. You can purchase Google Chromecast from Amazon Here. Google Chromecast actually ranked First in our Top 3 Streaming devices.

Update 1: You can also order Chromecast if you live in Finland, Spain, India, Holland, Belgium, Portugal, Italy and France.

Source : AndroidCentral


Track Proposed and Accepted Updates to the Google Cast SDK

Google’s Cast SDK team publishes a detailed Issues tracking list here:

image

SDK users can add items by clicking the New Issue button, which opens this form with the default Defect Report from User template:

image

Thanks to Google+ Chromecast community member +James Mosvick for the heads up.

Chromecast Remains Top-Selling Amazon.com Electronic Item

imageChromecast has been #1 on Amazon.com’s Top 100 Electronics items list since Google announced it on 7/24/2013. Following are the rankings of Chromecast and two of its competitors on 9/28/2013:

AmazonElectronicBestSellers9-28-2013

Various Kindle tablets took the #2 through #6 positions. It’s interesting that three of the top eight sellers were media players.

Chromecast Gains a Wikipedia Article

Wikipedia’s Chromecast article, last edited 9/24/2013, begins:

imageChromecast is a digital media streaming adapter developed by Google. The device, a 2.83-inch (72 mm) dongle, plays audio/video content on a high-definition television by streaming it via Wi-Fi from the Internet or local network. Users select the media to play on their television from the Google Chrome web browser on a personal computer or from a supported app on their mobile device.

imageThe device was announced on July 24, 2013 and was made available for purchase on the same day for US$35, along with a Netflix promotion that provided free access for three months.[3] As of July 28, 2013, Chromecast is available only in the United States but will be released in other countries as well.[4]

“It’s not real if it doesn’t have its own Wikipedia article.” –rj


John Dietrich Posts a Third-Party Review of Chromecast

John Dietrich (@MichlinMetals) posted Chromecast Capabilities & Owner Review to his GPlusGeek blog on 9/23/2013:

Google Chromecast

imageGoogle Chromecast is a $35 Netflix and YouTube casting device that allows you to watch videos from your Android or iOS device directly on your TV. All that’s required is a TV with a free HDMI port. It’s also nice if you have a free USB port on your TV as well because Chromecast requires external power, which it can get from either being plugged into a wall outlet or a free USB port.

There are five officially supported apps for Chromecast at this point with more coming ou[t] in the next few months. Currently these are Netflix, YouTube, Google Music, Google Video and Google Play Movies & TV. While the Google Cast API is not fully released, it’s still marked as a developer preview, there will be many more Chromcast apps coming out once this moves out of developer preview.

What Else Can You Do With Chromecast?

You can currently stream your local content from your device, running the Chrome browser, to your TV using Chromecast. This is done using the Google Cast extension for the Google Chrome browser. Currently file types such as mp4, m4v, avi and mpeg can be streamed. However mkv files don’t stream with audio. Just open your Chrome browser, once the Google Cast extension is installed, then type Ctrl+O (commend+O on a Mac). You can then navigate to the local content you wish to stream.

Using the Google Cast Chrome browser plugin you can also, “Cast this tab”. That is you can stream any tab you have opened locally onto the big screen! Not only this, but you can even “Cast entire screen”. While this second feature is still experimental take a look for yourself.

Chromecast Owner Review

I’ve owned the Chromecast device for several weeks now, and absolutely love the device. Setup was not difficult, there was one step I had to re-try, but I was up and running in very short order. Streaming YouTube and Netflix couldn’t be easier to do, and the quality is surprisingly high. It’s also very fast. Going from opening the Netflix app to actually casting full HD content takes less than 60 seconds.

Chromecast Plugged InI have noticed that my play controls sometimes disappear while streaming Netflix. Basically if I exit the app, to check an email or text message, the play and pause controls may disappear. To get them back I have to close, and re-open the Netflix app. While this is a bit inconvenient at times the video content never stops streaming so there’s no interruption in content viewing.

Over all I highly recommend the Chromecast device, and am looking forward to more app releases. I’ve also recommended it to friends and family who are also loving their new Chromecast. If you own one, or have any questions about owning one, leave us some comments below we’d be glad to hear from you!


Google Begins Adding Chromecast Compliance to Embedded You Tube Videos

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) asserted “YouTube is starting to let users beam videos to their Chromecast devices from any website” in a summary of his YouTube starts testing Chromecast support for third-party websites report of 9/15/2013 for the GigaOm blog:

imageYouTube quietly started to add support for Chromecast to its embedded web player, allowing users of Google’s TV dongle to beam videos displayed on third-party websites straight from their browser to their TV. Previously, casting was only supported from YouTube.com.

imageSome Chromecast users started reporting in recent days that they had seen the dongle’s play to TV button popping up on embedded videos on Google+ as well as other sites. Testing this, I was able to cast videos from a few third-party sites, including GigaOM.com. However, the button seems to show up randomly, and may not be available for everyone, or for every video, as it is part of a test. Here’s what a YouTube spokesperson had to say:

image“With more videos coming to YouTube every minute we’re always experimenting with ways to help people more easily find, watch and share the videos that matter most to them. As always, we’ll consider rolling changes out more broadly based on feedback on these experiments.”

Adding Chromecast support to videos embedded on third-party sites does make a lot of sense for YouTube, as it could get people to watch videos for longer periods of time, and in turn display more ads. YouTube already lets users beam any video from YouTube.com as well as from its mobile apps to a Chromecast device.

Check out our video review of Chromecast below:

Full disclosure: I’m a registered GigaOm analyst.


Chromecast Bootloader Exploit Package available from GTVHacker.com

The GTVHacker.com site’s Google Chromecast wiki page includes the following Bootloader Exploit Package section:

Items Needed:

  • imageBlank USB Flash drive (at least 128MB) –Your drive will be erased–
  • Our USB Image
  • Google Chromecast
  • Powered Micro USB OTG Cable
  • If not a Powered Micro USB OTG Cable, then find a way to rig up a cable that does just this. We will not provide instructions, it’s simple, but still. Just buy the cable.

Pre-Setup:

  1. Download .zip and extract the “gtvhacker-chromecast.bin” file. [Link added; see below.]
  2. Install our USB image as a whole to your USB flash drive with dd:

Syntax: dd if=gtvhacker-chromecast.bin of=/dev/sdX bs=1024

Root Process:

  1. Plug the flash drive into one female “A” end of the USB OTG cable
  2. Plug the other end into the Chromecast
  3. Hold down the button on the Chromecast while plugging in the power cord.
  4. Watch the screen, and any blinking light on your flash drive. The Chromecast will power up, execute our unsigned kernel, kick off to a script that replaces /system with a rooted one. It will then wipe /data, and reboot back to the normal system. All of this should take about a minute. Don’t unplug anything while it is installing.
  5. When it is complete, your box will reboot, and you will see a new splash screen, and then the Setup screen. Just re-set up your Chromecast, and you can telnet to get a root shell on your Chromecast on port 23!

Bootloader Exploit Package Download

The Software section includes the following details:

At its core Google Chromecast is Android. Items below can be found that help describe the Chromecast operating environment.

  • Chromecast Build.prop – A build.prop that details all the config props setup on the device in its shipped configuration.


Chromecast Workaround for IPTables-Enabled Linux Distributions

Wikipedia defines iptables as follows:

iptables are the tables provided by the Linux kernel firewall (implemented as different Netfilter modules) and the chains and rules it stores. Different kernel modules and programs are currently used for different protocols; iptables applies to IPv4, ip6tables to IPv6, arptables to ARP, and ebtables to Ethernet frames.

iptables requires elevated privileges to operate and must be executed by user root, otherwise it fails to function. On most Linux systems, iptables is installed as /usr/sbin/iptables and documented in its man pages which can be opened using man iptables when installed. It may also be found in /sbin/iptables, but since iptables is more like a service rather than an “essential binary”, the preferred location remains /usr/sbin.

The term iptables is also commonly used to inclusively refer to the kernel-level components. x_tables is the name of the kernel module carrying the shared code portion used by all four modules that also provides the API used for extensions; subsequently, Xtables is more or less used to refer to the entire firewall (v4, v6, arp, and eb) architecture.

Matthew J. Smith explained Using Google Chromecast from Fedora 19 (and other IPTable-enabled Linux distributions) in a 8/25/2013 post:

imageUsing Chrome’s Google Cast with the Google Chromecast from an IPTables-enabled Linux distribution can be a bit tricky.

The extension starts by issuing an SSDP request from a local ephemeral UDP port to 239.255.255.250 port 1900.  The Chromecast will respond from its IP and another ephemeral UDP port, back to your source UDP port.

IPTables cannot track this simply as “RELATED”, given that the target of the first packet is the multicast address, while the source of the response packet is the Chromecast’s IP.  And unfortunately, there is no SSDP conntrack module (at least, not that I am aware of, at the time of writing this post).

Therefore, the best we can do for now is to open the ephemeral port range on the client machine.  The list of ephemeral ports, as defined by your Linux machine, can be found by:

cat /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_local_port_range

Fedora19 uses firewalld, so you will want to use the following:

firewall-cmd –permanent –add-port=”32768-61000/udp” firewall-cmd –reload

On non-firewalld systems, use this IPTables one-liner:

iptables -A INPUT -p udp -m udp –dport 32768:61000 -j ACCEPT

Launch Chrome, click the Cast extensions, and it should now “Just Work”.  And if it doesn’t …. please let me know in the comments on this post.


Spotify Connect Mimics Chromecast for Music

Spotify.co.uk described Spotify Connect: the new way to play at home:

Spotify Connect: the new way to play at home

image
Introducing Spotify Connect – the seamless way to fill your home with music. This clever feature lets you play and control millions of songs across your phone, tablet and speakers.

Bring your music home. You walk through the door, listening to a great playlist on your phone. With Connect, just hit play on your living room speakers and the music instantly fires up, right where you left off. You won’t miss a beat.

Then pick up your tablet to control the music from your sofa. Or switch the sound to your iPod Touch in the kitchen’s docking station. Keep the music flowing with Connect.


Here are just some of the amazing features of Connect.

  • Play & control music on any device. Choose music on one device, listen on another.
  • Music is seamless. Switch devices, and the music keeps flowing.
  • No interruptions. Plug in your headset, make and receive calls, play a game – no problem.
  • Battery-friendly. Using Connect won’t drain your device’s power.

Choose your home speaker system. Spotify Connect will be available soon on a wide range of speakers and home audio systems from music hardware specialists. Look out for the Spotify Connect logo on compatible systems.

partnerslogos
Spotify Connect will be available soon to Spotify Premium subscribers on iPhone, iPad and home audio systems over the coming months, with Android and desktop updates to follow.

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 11.08.04 AM

Spotify and Google appear to be reading from the same playbook. Hopefully they’ll join forces with a Chromecast-compliant app.


Corey Bergman Describes How His Kids Adapt to Chromecasting

Corey Bergman (@corybe) described How Chromecast fundamentally changed how my family watches TV in a 9/3/2013 to the Lost Remote site’s Second Screen column:

imageAs soon as Google unveiled Chromecast, I was lucky enough to scoop up a couple of the $35 devices to connect the two TVs in our home. After a few weeks, it’s fundamentally changed how my family watches TV. It’s also changed some of my perceptions about the evolution of the “second screen.”

Most of the TV viewing in our house is dominated by our kids. Ages 3 and 5, they immediately grasped how to “cast” their Netflix shows from our phones (iPhone and Nexus 4) and iPads to either TV. After all, they were already watching Netflix on their devices, and simply tapping an icon to play it on TV turned out to be an extremely natural act. For them, devices are the starting point to watch video, not the TV.

imageFor me, the remote control has been my historical starting point, but Chromecast is liberating because it’s invisibly tied to my omnipresent devices. I can leave both TVs on Chromecast (why should we have to turn TVs on and off?), then pick up any phone or tablet in my home, find a show and cast it instantly. I always have my phone in my pocket — but not remote controls — and our tablets are always sitting on the couch or next to the bed. Finding a show on a tablet is much easier than tapping up/down/left/right on a remote, and the multitasking wizardry of Chromecast makes it a snap to play something and do something else at the same time.

Of course, the MVPDs are playing an aggressive devices strategy, too, enabling you to browse and control TV content from your devices. The difference with Chromecast is it works across any app that has integrated the SDK. The more apps add it, the more powerful it becomes. While Chromecast is just wired into Netflix and YouTube for now, it’s coming to Hulu Plus, Pandora and reportedly HBO Go. You could imagine TV Everywhere apps like Watch ESPN could integrate it as well, assuming MVPDs don’t object. But in the divisive and confusing world of digital rights, that’s a big assumption.

That’s because Chromecast and Apple TV have the potential to become disruptive with scale. Devices, not TV, become the starting point. Apps become the channels. Google and Apple become the gateways, not the MVPDs. Screens become seamless. DVRs become pointless. And the internet becomes the cable.

While TV Everywhere preserves revenue streams, new habits are forming. Kids are growing up on devices and apps, and even my 5 year-old (sadly) knows how to make an in-app purchase. If someone wants to watch HBO, it’s natural behavior for a younger viewer to punch up the HBO Go app on a device and instantly play it on any screen. As the show plays on TV, the app could serve up supporting “second screen” content, which could also cast on TV in some way. Or you could switch off to another app, or watch the show on the device to begin with. The second screen is the starting point, and in many cases, it becomes the first screen.

Just look at the new NFL experience for Xbox, revealed in more detail this week. With on-screen scores, fantasy updates and conversations, the first screen is the de facto second screen,

As Kevin Spacey said at the Edinburgh Television Festival, “The audience wants control. They want freedom.” Of all the second screen technologies I’ve tried, Twitter and Chromecast are the two I use the most. Our kids even engage in “Chromecast wars,” casting their favorite shows over the top of everyone else’s shows, much to our chagrin.

By the way, Chromecast is still sold out on Amazon and sold out again on BestBuy.com. By all appearances, Chromecast is quickly growing enough scale to encourage widespread adoption by developers. Stay tuned…



Paul Thurrot Reads the Riot Act to Chromecast in an Uncommonly Scathing Review

Paul Thurrot (@Thurrot) asserted “The easiest way to watch online video on your TV? Not even close” in a deck for his Google Chromecast First Impressions and Photos Windows Supersite article of 8/27/2013:

Google’s third stab at the living room is small, cute and inexpensive. But my initial experiences with this device are underwhelming so I’ll be testing it over the next week or so to determine whether it lives up to the hype. In the meantime, here’s a quick peek at the device and some initial thoughts.

You have no doubt heard the old adage “you get what you pay for.” That’s never been more true than with the Chromecast, a $35 device that seeks to compete with such products as Roku (four models, $50 to $100), Apple TV ($100), and WD-TV (three models, $70 to $260). This device is so bare-boned and so barely functional I can’t see myself recommending it to anyone. We’ll see, but that’s the initial impression. This thing is a joke.

First, it’s not a standalone device. To use the Chromecast—to even set up the Chromecast—you need another compatible digital device. This can be a PC, an Android handset or tablet, an iPhone or an iPad. This device needs to be in front of your TV, ready to go at all times, like a glorified remote control. You cannot use Chromecast without it. So what you’re really paying for is a way to blast a limited range of content from that device to your TV. Chromecast isn’t a digital media set-top box. It’s a dumb wireless display dongle. For $15 more you can get a complete, free-standing Roku box that comes with its own remote control. No brainer.

Second, as alluded to above, Chromecast is extremely limited. You can stream content from the Google Play Store (music or video), from Netflix, and from YouTube only. By comparison, Roku sports over 750+ channels of entertainment, including all the heavy hitters: Netflix, HBO GO, Vudu, Crackle, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, MLB.TV Premium, Disney, EPIX, SyFy, NOOK Video, and many, many more. 750 vs. 3. Do the math.

(OK, it’s going to be 750 vs. 4 soon. Google has built beta support for Chromecast into Chrome as well, so you will soon be able to reliably stream from Google’s browser too. It’s a bit rough right now.)

Third, those pictures where you see this USB-dongle-looking-thing sticking out of the side of an HDTV, creating a clean look? Completely fake. The Chromecast requires a USB-based power cord and, on most TVs, an HDMI extension cable. The real look of this thing is in fact worse than putting a Roku or AppleTV under the set, though arguably some will be able to simply hide it.

Fourth, it’s Wi-Fi only. Where you can get an Ethernet-equipped Roku or AppleTV for $99, Chromecast requires you to use that device plus whatever is controlling it on the same Wi-Fi network. And I had to set up a new Wi-Fi network because I couldn’t get it to connect to the one every other device in the house uses without issue.

Which brings me to number five, the deal-breaker. We can quibble over my technical acumen, but I couldn’t get this thing set up properly for days. I almost gave up. There are almost no instructions—I’ve seen more details on a cereal box give-away promotion—and no indication why things aren’t working. The Chromecast is simple, yes. But not the good kind of simple.

And you know what? I’m not going to review this piece of crap. And you shouldn’t buy it. There are just too many viable alternatives out there. A Roku is about 100 times better than the Chromecast and it’s not much more expensive. Don’t be dumb.

Pictures follow. If you’re lucky, this will be the last time you ever see this thing.

My comment on Paul’s post was awaiting moderation when I posted this article; I’ll add it when and if the comment appears.

Update 9/6/2013: You can read my comment here.


Google Acknowledges Chromecast Uses Microsoft PlayReadyTM Digital Rights (DRM) Management Software

Google’s Chromecast Product Information booklet contains a Licenses and End User Notices section, which states the following:

This product contains technology subject to certain intellectual property rights of Microsoft. Use or distribution of this technology outside of this product is prohibited without the appropriate license(s) from Microsoft.

Content owners use Microsoft PlayReadyTM content access technology to protect their intellectual property including copyrighted content. This devices uses PlayReady technology to access PlayRead-protected content and/or WMDRM-protected content if the device fails to properly enforce restrictions on content usage. Content owners may required Microsoft to revoke the device’s ability to consume PlayReady protected content. Revocation should not affect unprotected content or content protected by other content access technologies. Content owners may require you to upgrade PlayReady to access their content. If you declice to upgrade, you will not be able to access content that requires the upgrade.

Chromecast was designed by Google, Inc. of 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View, California 94043 and assembled in China.

It’s always interesting to read the fine print. Netflix is the primary cause of adopting PlayReady DRM for Chromecast. Click here for more information from Microsoft PlayReady technology.

Nicholas DeLeon (@nicholasadeleon) reported Netflix goes with Microsoft PlayReady DRM for upcoming streaming devices in a 5/10/2010 TechCrunch article:

imageLooks like Netflix has decided to go with Microsoft’s PlayReady DRM for all upcoming Netflix-ready devices. If all goes according to plan you shouldn’t even notice the DRM being there, but we all know how well DRM has worked in the past.

imageNetflix already uses PlayReady for its Mac and Windows PC instant streaming services, so both companies already have a convivial working relationship. More importantly to end-users, I don’t recall any big DRM dust-ups vis-à-vis Netflix streams.

imageThis announcement also confirms a host of new Netflix-ready devices. The press release mentions “Internet TVs, Blu-ray disc players, home theater systems, video game consoles and other devices.” What could “other devices” mean? Something like Google TV, or maybe the Boxee Box? A Netflix-equipped Google TV could do well for itself.

Netflix says the move to PlayReady DRM will make it easier to get content providers (movie studios and the like) to supply a steady stream of, well, content. If there’s one complaint against the Netflix streaming service is that there’s not as wide a selection of content as there is with disc-based Netflix. That should begin to change with this move.

The first devices making use of this new DRM should hit stores early this summer.

Needless to say, your ability to stream Netflix on your Xbox 360 (or PS3 or Wii) won’t be negatively affected by this transition.

Obviously, “other devices” ultimately included Google’s Chromecast.


Google TV Engineer Warren Rehman Says Google TV will Support Cast

Warren Rehman replied as follows on 7/24/2013 to a Google TV announcement:

image


Google’s Minimum System Requirements for Tab-Casting from Chrome to Your TV

The Chromecast team has published Cast from Chrome to your TV: Minimum System Requirements to its Chromecast Support site:

image_thumb4The Google Cast extension can be used on any platform running Chrome 28 or higher to enable integration with sites such as www.youtube.com and www.netflix.com. To download the Chrome Browser, visit www.google.com/chrome. If you already use the Chrome Browser and need to check your version number, type “about://chrome” into your URL bar.

imagePlease note: Casting a tab has specific requirements depending on your chosen quality settings. Systems that do not meet these minimum requirements will be limited to projecting web pages, images and slideshows, and will not work for streaming video content.

image

If you are unsure of your computer specs, please see our CPU & GPU Help Center article here.

Note: If you’re having trouble, please try our Chromecast Troubleshooting tips here.

See our Casting MPEG-4/H.264 Video Files with Chrome from a Windows Laptop article for a detailed tab-casting instructions.


Ossama Alami Describes Chromecast Developer Relations Jobs Open at Google

Ossama Alami (@ossamaalami), a Google Developer Advocate, asked if you’re Interested in working on Chromecast and the Cast SDK? in an 8/13/2013 post to Google+’s Chromecast Hacks community:

imageI’m looking for Developer Advocates, Developer Programs Engineers and Tech Writers to join the Cast Developer Relations team! Find out more at https://developers.google.com/jobs/ Ping me if you want to learn more!

It’s interesting that the above Jobs page reports it was last updated on 3/25/2013!


Ross Rubin Asserts “Chromecast is very much in keeping with the Chrome ethos” in His Switched On Column for Engadget

Consumer technology analyst Ross Rubin (@rossrubin) posted Switched On: Casting light on the Chromecast on 8/11/2013 to his monthly Switched On column for the Engadget site:

DNP Switched On Casting light on the Chromecast

imageSold out for weeks after its launch, everyone seems to be in love with the Chromecast — the ultra-cheap, ultra-small, interface-free, HDMI-toting TV appendage that stole the show from the new Nexus 7. Building beyond the DIAL device-discovery protocol that Netflix and YouTube have supported, Chromecast is a client of Google Cast, which enables the kind of second-screen control for volume and other features implemented by the device.

imageGoogle has gotten the jump on similar products such as the Plair TV dongle by natively supporting three of the most popular services to use on televisions — Netflix, YouTube and Pandora. Furthermore, it has also enabled a backdoor to many other services by building in support for displaying Chrome tabs on a Chromecast-connected TV. In doing so, it treats the TV as an extension of the browser just as Apple’s forthcoming OS X Mavericks can treat an Apple TV-connected set as another Macintosh screen. [Plair Media link added.]

The Chrome brand may not mean much to consumers at this point (at least compared to Android), but it’s shaping up to represent a few things to Google, which marked the metallic name’s focus on simplicity. But unlike other competitive products that marry simplicity with sophisticated, premium industrial design, the Chrome brand connotes affordable simplicity. For example, in their marketplace ascent, Chromebooks have become the new netbooks — truer to that name, in fact, than the Windows-based versions ever were.

Chromecast is very much in keeping with the Chrome ethos. It runs on Chrome OS, which means that its software layer is essentially a browser. It also encourages HTML-based development, which — despite the strong software support that Android has received — remains Google’s desired endgame. Chromecast is cross-platform, but very much tied to the Chrome browser. In fact, Google’s introduction of Chromecast portrayed the mobile device universe as consisting only of Android and iOS products, the only ones on which Chrome is available.

But Chromecast is more than a cross-platform play; it’s a countermove against WiFi extensions such as AirPlay, which will likely never move beyond the iOS ecosystem; it also does this without using Miracast, the Wi-Fi Alliance’s attempt to build its own answer to AirPlay, and for which Microsoft recently announced support in Windows 8.1.

Two years ago, Switched On discussed some of the key challenges of smart TV. At least three different approaches — including the disastrous Nexus Q — have tried using Android to crack it. But recent findings from Reticle Research show that the feature consumers are most interested in from a smart TV is the ability to send content from a smartphone or tablet.

Perhaps frustrated by Google TV’s slow adoption, Google has launched Chromecast as a hedge, a bet that TV may not enter into a robust app ecosystem the way that Samsung and others think it will. While it continues to play both sides of that bet, it has just tipped the scales a bit in favor of a solution that’s simpler, more focused and — assuming you have the requisite second screen — much cheaper.

I wasn’t familiar with the US$99 Plair TV dongle until Ross mentioned it in this post. Plair emulates Chromecast’s Chrome browser tab-casting feature, not DIAL-based native Chromecasting. The Amazon App Store for Android lists the free Plair app for Android, as does the Google Play Store; here’s one of several screen captures:

image

It will be interesting to learn how Plair Media intends to compete with Chromecast.


Janko Roettgers Analyzes Google and Netflix Efforts to Co-Opt TV Makers’ “Smart” Features with the DIAL Protocol

I paid about $100 extra for the “Smart” features of the 46-inch Samsung UN46D6050 HDTV my wife and I purchased from Amazon for about US$700 on 5/5/2012. After connecting it to the Internet with AT&T’s commercial DSL service, I was quite disappointed in the usefulness of these features. I subsequently connected other HDMI-enabled devices, such as a Roku 3 streaming player, an Acer Aspire 5750-6690 laptop and an Ugoos UG007-II MiniPC to an open HDMI port (see A Diagram of the OakLeaf Systems Video Component Test System topic below.) I’ll add a Chromecast when I receive my second unit in September or October.

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) asserted “Chromecast was just the beginning: Google and Netflix have both been working on making smart TVs better, and we’ve chronicled their work and the problems it is meant to address in a series of long-form stories” in a summary of his Netflix and Google want to save TV article of 8/4/2013 for GigaOm:

imageNetflix and Google have both been trying to save television. And we are not talking about YouTube and Arrested Development for a change, but on the actual TV set – the device that’s in your living room.

imageNetflix has been talking behind closed doors to TV makers to make their so-called smart TVs less painful to use, Google has worked to replace the on-screen keyboard with voice search and both companies have cooperated to establish an open AirPlay competitor – work that eventually led to Google’s Chromecast device, which launched a little more than a week ago and immediately sold out online and in stores around the country.

imageThis week, we chronicled these efforts to make TVs suck less in a three-part series called Making TVS smart that featured interviews with developers, executives and more. Here’s your chance to catch up in case you missed it:

Related research

Subscriber Content comes from GigaOM Pro, a revolutionary approach to market research without the high price tag. Visit any of our reports to subscribe.

Full disclosure: I’m a registered GigaOm analyst.

GigaOm is just one of many sources reporting that the Chromcast uses Netflix’s DIscovery And Launch (DIAL) protocol, which second-screen can use to discover and launch apps on first-screen devices:

image

From Netflix’s Overview page:

For example, suppose you discover a video on your mobile app and want to play it on your connected TV.

Without DIAL

  1. Launch the apps menu on your TV with the normal remote control
  2. Navigate to the TV app
  3. Launch the TV app
  4. Navigate to the pairing screen on TV app
  5. Launch and navigate to the pairing screen on Mobile app
  6. Input 9-digit pin on Mobile app. 
  7. Tap the Play on TV button on the Mobile app

With DIAL

  1. Launch the Mobile app
  2. Tap the Play on TV button on the mobile app

For consumers, DIAL removes the pain of having to launch the required app on the 1st screen before interacting with it from their 2nd screen. DIAL does not have any significant impact on the 2nd screen’s battery life and the only requirement is that both 1st and 2nd screens are connected to the same home network.

For device manufacturers, DIAL increases usage of applications on their 1st screen products (TV, set-top, Blu-ray, etc.).

For app developers, DIAL helps link their 2nd screen app to their 1st screen app without requiring a manual launch or pairing process by the user.

See the DIAL Protocol Specification for more discussion of typical use cases.

The DIAL Name Registry is a listing of DIAL Namespace names reserved by content providers. The first two entries are YouTube and Netflix. Other familiar content providers with registered namespaces include:

  • Hulu
  • Pandora
  • Disney
  • Redbox Instant
  • Sling Media
  • Vimeo


CNet’s John P. Falcone Laments: The $35 Chromecast seemed like the perfect alternative to expensive hotel pay-per-view; unfortunately, the hotel’s Wi-Fi didn’t cooperate

John P. Falcone (@falconejp) described How hotel Wi-Fi killed my Chromecast travel dreams in an 8/5/2013 article for CNet.Reviews | Home Theater:

Chromecast fails on my hotel Wi-Fi (Credit: John P. Falcone/CNET)

imageLast week, I visited San Francisco for a long-overdue trip to the CNET home office. In anticipation of the four-night stay, I added my new Chromecast to my luggage. (I managed to get in on the first wave of Amazon sales before it quickly sold out.) My thought: I could queue up some Netflix rather than watch the random 20 standard-def cable channels on the hotel TV feed.

It seemed like a perfect use of Google’s new ultracompact streaming dongle. And lying on the bed and watching my own choice of Netflix programming on the TV across the room seemed far more preferable to watching it on the screen of a 13-inch laptop balanced precariously on my stomach.

Unfortunately, the idea was a no-go.

I was able to physically set up the Chromecast in about 30 seconds; it was dead-simple to plug the Chromecast dongle into a free HDMI port on my room’s LG TV, and power it from the television’s USB port. Switching to the right input was a snap, too.

But I hit a wall with wireless.

Two aspects of the hotel Wi-Fi kept the Chromecast from being my on-the-road entertainment solution. And both of them would’ve flummoxed competing devices like the Apple TV or Roku.

Problem 1: Wi-Fi log-in
I was staying at the Galleria Park in San Francisco, which offers complimentary Wi-Fi. In order to authenticate, however, the network splash screen asks for a room number (call it your “username”) and a last name (“password”).

hotel Wi-Fi password screen (Credit: Screenshot by John P. Falcone/CNET)

In other words, the Wi-Fi network at the hotel is “open” in that you don’t need a WPA or WEP password to log in. But without the proper credentials (network username and password), you can’t get past the log-in screen.

That’s fine for anything with a browser — laptop, tablet, smartphone, even some e-readers, like the Kindle — but it utterly fails for any “entertainment device” that doesn’t have a browser. So my browser-enabled $69 Kindle worked fine, but the Chromecast didn’t. (I didn’t have an Apple TV or Roku on hand, but they wouldn’t have worked, either.)

Indeed, the hotel’s Wi-Fi was a lot like the security on my corporate network, which requires my company username and password. That’s exactly why we have a separate CNET Labs network for testing entertainment devices that don’t have browser-based log-ins. (Let’s face it: no home network is going to have that layer of security.)

Problem 2: Wi-Fi speeds
Even if I’d been able to log in to the hotel’s network, it wouldn’t have been smooth sailing. The Galleria Park’s free Wi-Fi was advertised as 1Mbps, and Speedtest on my laptop verified that was exactly the speed I was pulling down. That was perfectly fine for e-mail, Web surfing, and even some short inline videos, but for sustained video streaming at HD resolution, you really want upward of 3.5Mbps (if not much more).

Speedtest, Chromecast (Credit: Screenshot by John P. Falcone/CNET)

4G hot spot: Not always an option
I know what you’re thinking: both of these problems could be solved by using the hot-spot function on a 4G LTE phone (or a standalone hot-spot device). However, even if I was going to pay the premium for that service, I would’ve been out of luck on this trip: my phone was barely getting two bars on Verizon — probably because my room was in the interior ring of the hotel. When I was making calls, folks on the other end of the line were complaining that I was dropping in and out — so cellular-based data service just wasn’t reliable in that particular location.

Is there room for hope?
One has to wonder if this situation will improve. After all, hotels no more want to provide you with a “free” alternative to their pricey in-room pay-per-view movies than they want you to know that there’s a nearby drugstore with the same items as the minibar available at a fraction of the price.

That said, all is not lost. Wi-Fi is a key amenity, and touting faster, better wireless is certainly a big green light for travelers shopping in an increasingly competitive market.

Chromecast password screenshot (Credit: Screenshot by John P. Falcone/CNET)

On the Chromecast front, I think we could see progress as well. Because the Chromecast setup program uses a Mac, Windows PC, or Android device to “upload” a network Wi-Fi password to the unit, it certainly seems possible that Google could update the setup software to accept a username/password combo. That’s just a guess, though; one suspects that’s exactly the sort of workaround that could be exploited by clever hackers. (I can see the headline now: “Chromecast password exploit used to hack hotel network.”)

But I’ll hope for the best, and add a username-compatible log-in to our wish list of the several upgrades we’re hoping for Google to add to the Chromecast.

In the meantime, it looks like a tablet remains your best bet for on-the-road entertainment. …

If your tablet has a MiniHDMI, MicroHDMI, DisplayPort or MHL connector and you have the right HDMI cable/converter, you can emulate the Chromecast at 20 times the cost. One commenter recommended a travel router plugged into the room’s Ethernet connection (if it has one.)

Read the full CNET Review: Google Chromecast

The bottom line: Google’s $35 Chromecast streaming-TV dongle is certainly cheap, but its limited initial app support and total reliance on mobile devices keep it well behind the Apple TV and Roku — at least for now. Read Full Review


Adriana Lee Notes that Chromecast Doesn’t Support 5-GHz WiFi

Adriana Lee (@Adra_La) asserted “Google’s new device can do a lot of things. Supporting the faster 5GHz Wi-Fi frequency favored by streaming fans isn’t one of them” in a deck for her Another Chromecast Gotcha—It Hates The 5GHz Wireless-N Band article of 8/7/2013 for the ReadWriteWeb blog:

imageThe cheap, compact Chromecast streaming device can do a lot of tricks—from smartening up dumb TVs to turning our mobiles and laptops into handy controllers. It can even do a few unintended things, like letting us play the media stored on our laptops.

But what it can’t do is function without Wi-Fi. Since the device has no ethernet port, all that streaming action comes courtesy of your wireless network, the beating heart of which is your trusty router. But merely having one doesn’t ensure decent streaming. In the Chromecast’s case, the experience relies wholly on a few specific factors.

A Word About Routers

Chromecast supports the faster 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, along with the older b/g standards. This is great news for people with dual-band routers, the most common type of consumer-grade wireless-N router. Unfortunately, it only works on the 2.4GHz band. …

The 2.4GHz band is the one most devices use, and for good reason. It offers more wireless coverage over a greater distance, and can even work better through walls than the 5GHz band. But because of its popularity, more devices and appliances can interfere with this signal—including certain landline cordless phones, microwaves and baby monitors, among others.

This is partly why 5GHz has a reputation for faster performance, and as a result, some people deliberately move gaming and streaming activities onto 5GHz whenever they can. If nothing else, there’s simply less interference.

Too bad the Chromecast doesn’t work with this frequency. In fact, it can’t even recognize it. I tested this at home on my trusty Linksys WRT610N dual-band wireless-N router. The network name for my 2.4GHz frequency showed up, but Chromecast couldn’t detect the 5GHz band at all.

Even though my mobile devices and the Chromecast were on different frequencies, they were still on the same network, so they were able to communicate. I could remote control the YouTube and Netflix Web streams from my mobiles, and also tab cast from my laptop. …


Wikipedia Erroneously Reports HDMI Ports with MHL Will Power Chromecasts

Wikipedia’s Chomecast topic’s “Features and Operations” section read as follows on 8/9/2013 (emphasis added):

imageMeasuring 2.83 inches (72 mm), Chromecast plugs into a television’s HDMI port and can be powered directly from an HDMI 1.4+ port with MHL support.[5][6] For televisions without MHL, power can be supplied by connecting the device’s Micro-USB port to a USB port on the television or an external power supply. The mobile apps supported at release are YouTube, Netflix, Google Play Music, and Google Play Movies & TV. Additional apps, such as Pandora, TWiT.tv, HBO Go, and Hulu will be added.[7][8] The device works across several platforms and operating systems, including Android, iOS, Chrome OS, and Google Chrome on Windows and OS X through a browser extension.[9]

However, Chromecast users with recently purchased HDTV sets having MHL-compliant HDMI find that power must be provided with the USB connector, either from an active USB hub or a USB receptacle on the TV. For example, Kevin Mogee (@kevinmogee) started this discussion in the Google+ Chromecast community:

imageI have a Sony TV that is less than 2 months old.  It has HDMI 1.4 and MHL.  I was under the impression that with HDMI+MHL, I would not need the power cable for the Chromecast.  However, when I plug it in without the power cord, the Chromecast does not power on.  As soon as I add the USB cable, it turns on.  I’ve checked the settings on the TV and the HDMI port that I’m using specifically says HDMI + MHL.  Am I doing something wrong, or is my TV just not capable of providing power to the Chromecast?

Phil Nickinson (@philnickinson) posted Did Google gloss over Chromecast needing USB power? Not hardly to the AndroidCentral site on 7/26/2013:

imageA … certain segment of fans … have gotten it into their heads that Google played down the fact that Chromecast needs USB power to work. They are wrong.

Here’s Google’s Mario Queiroz, describing Chromecast at Wednesday’s event:

“Once you take it out of its beautiful, clean box, all you have to do is plug it in to, ah, any HDMI input on your TV, power through USB, connect to your home Wifi, and you’re ready to kick back and watch.”

The only MiniPC/TVStick that I’ve heard will support MHL is Dell/Wyse’s forthcoming “Project Ophelia” that’s reportedly in the hands of developers but won’t be generally available until later in 2013. See my Comparing Dell/Wyse’s “Project Ophelia” with the UG007 MiniPC article for additional details.



Netflix Fix for Problems with Android 4.3 Devices

Jerry Hildenbrand (@gbhil) reported Netflix updated to address issues with Android 4.3 in an 8/8/2013 post to Android Central:

imageIf you were experiencing issues running Netflix on your phone or tablet with Android 4.3, you’ll want to grab this one. Netflix has been updated, and the words everyone wanted to hear are in the change log:

  • Fixes and optimization for devices running Android 4.3.
  • On the new Nexus 7 HD, this version requires all Android 4.3 system updates to be installed.

imageThis is of special interest to everyone using a Chromecast with their Android 4.3-powered device, and an update we’re happy to see. Give it a try, and let everyone know how it works out for you in the comments below. You can grab the update from the Google Play [here.]

One commenter (BobbyBeans) reported:

I just got a new Nexus 7 (2013) and Netflix was running fine but I updated anyway. So far just grief. The update seemed to go fine. The app opened and I could see my queue but every time I tried to start a steam I’d see an error that said “unable to contact to netfix try again later”. Remember it was just working fine just prior to the update. So I removed the app and tried it again, but now I can’t even install it because of “invalid package” error. Many others are complaining of the same. DON’T UPGRADE!


Jared Newman Described Seven Browser Tricks to Get the Most Out of Your Chromecast for PCWorld

Jared Newman (@OneJaredNewman) wrote 7 browser tricks to get the most out of your Chromecast for PCWorld magazine on 8/2/2013:

imageFor $35, you might not expect much from Google’s Chromecast. As it turns out, this little TV dongle can do a whole lot more than just stream video from Netflix and YouTube, or view browser tabs on the big screen.

Unlocking the true potential of your Chromecast, however, requires a little ingenuity and some deep digging into the Chrome browser’s Cast extension. With these hints, tips, and secrets for Chromecast, you’ll be able to improve streaming video performance, mirror your entire PC screen, display locally stored files, and more. Not bad for a device the price of a few pizzas!

Here’s a list of Jared’s tricks:

  1. Reduce streaming quality to improve video casting
  2. Keep the full-screen video going
  3. Stream local files from a Chrome tab
  4. Mirror your entire PC display
  5. Stream audio from iTunes, Windows Media Player, and other desktop programs
  6. Check out the hidden cast settings in Chrome
  7. Use the TeamViewer app as a makeshift remote

Most of these tips are covered by other articles below.


Robert Nazarian Explains HDMI’s Consumer Electronic Control Feature, HDMI-CEC

Robert Nazarian (@RobNazarian) posted the following message to the Google+ Chromecast on 8/2/2013:

imageI will eventually do a post on some tips for the Chromecast, but here’s some stuff involving HDMI-CEC.

One of the things I loved about Google TV was the HDMI pass through. So if you were watching satellite TV, you didn’t have to switch HDMI inputs to access the Google TV. The Chromecast is lacking an HDMI pass through, but if you have HDMI-CEC, you get an improved version of it.

CEC stands for Consumer Electronics Control and allows the automatic control of devices through HDMI. If you remember, during the Chromecast presentation, they said it would automatically turn on your TV and/or set it to the proper input. It is HDMI-CEC that allows this. Many newer TVs and AV Receivers have this control, but most manufacturers don’t call it HDMI-CEC. So if you want to know if either your TV or AV receiver has it, here are the trade names:

  • Sony – BRAVIA Link or BRAVIA Sync
  • Sharp – Aquos Link
  • Samsung – Anynet+ [Added; see Wikipedia’s list of HDMI-CEC tradenames.]
  • Hitachi – HDMI-CEC
  • AOC – E-link
  • Pioneer – Kuro Link
  • Toshiba – Regza Link or CE-Link
  • Onkyo – RIHD (Remote Interactive over HDMI)
  • LG – SimpLink
  • Panasonic – VIERA Link or HDAVI Control or EZ-Sync
  • Philips – EasyLink
  • Mitsubishi – NetCommand for HDMI
  • Runco International – RuncoLink

If you have a device with one of these trade names you are good to go. However, you will probably need to go to your settings and turn the feature on. It probably varies from device to device, but with my Onkyo receiver, it (RIHD) was set to OFF from the factory.

Once you have enabled it, the next thing you are going to need to do is make sure your Chromecast has “always on” power. This way when your TV or AV receiver is off, you will still be able to communicate with the Chromecast. Once you send video to it, it will turn on your TV or AV receiver, and of course, set it to the right input. If your TV or AV receiver was already on, then it will just simply change inputs. When your video is finished, it may or may not switch automatically to the input you had previously. It depends on the manufacturer and how they programmed it. My Onkyo receiver does not. I should also note that if you are utilizing both an AV receiver and a TV, both the receiver and the TV would need to be HDMI-CEC compatible in order to enjoy the “auto on” feature. If only one of them has it, then only one of them will automatically turn on.

For me, I am using an Onkyo receiver. I have the Chromecast in HDMI 5. Anytime I send something to the Chromecast, it will automatically switch the input to HDMI 5 for me. It doesn’t matter what HDMI input I was watching. If my receiver is off, it will also turn it on and switch it to HDMI 5, but my TV isn’t HDMI-CEC compatible so the TV won’t turn on. I just need to make sure both my AV receiver and TV are both on for it to work right. That’s not a problem at all for me.

When I am done with the video, my receiver won’t revert back to what I was watching, but I did find some interesting things. Let’s say I am watching YouTube (via Chromecast) and I pause the video and manually switch to watching satellite TV (HDMI 1). If I unpause the video from my phone or tablet, the receiver will automatically switch back to the Chromecast (HDMI 5). Now if I don’t unpause it from phone or tablet, and instead, I manually go back to the HDMI that the Chromecast is on (HDMI 5), it will actually unpause it automatically. However, it doesn’t work the opposite way. If I am watching a video and do not unpause it, and switch inputs, the video will not pause automatically. I was actually hoping for a simplified way of using my master remote for pausing and unpausing.

HDMI-CEC is pretty slick and makes things a lot easier when you are watching TV and want to quickly throw up a video. You won’t have to fumble around switching inputs. However, in most situations you will have to change the input back manually, but I will take it. It’s going to make things a lot easier for my son when he wants to send a Netflix movie (and hopefully our personal Plex library soon) to the Chromecast.

Wikipedia provides the following list of HDMI-CEC commands:

  • One Touch Play allows devices to switch the TV to use it as the active source when playback starts
  • System Standby enables users to switch multiple devices to standby mode with the press of one button
  • Preset Transfer transfers the tuner channel setup to another TV set
  • One Touch Record allows users to record whatever is currently being shown on the HDTV screen on a selected recording device
  • Timer Programming allows users to use the electronic program guides (EPGs) that are built into many HDTVs and set-top-boxes to program the timer in recording devices like PVRs and DVRs
  • System Information checks all components for bus addresses and configuration
  • Deck Control allows a component to interrogate and control the operation (play, pause, rewind etc.), of a playback component (Blu-ray or HD DVD player or a Camcorder, etc.)
  • Tuner Control allows a component to control the tuner of another component
  • OSD Display uses the OSD of the TV set to display text
  • Device Menu Control allows a component to control the menu system of another component by passing through the user interface (UI) commands
  • Routing Control controls the switching of signal sources
  • Remote Control Pass Through allows remote control commands to be passed through to other devices within the system http://www.samsung.com/ca/system/consumer/product/2011/04/27/un46d6050tfxzc/LED_Series_6050.pdf
  • Device OSD Name Transfer transfers the preferred device names to the TV set
  • System Audio Control allows the volume of an AV receiver, integrated amplifier or pre-amplifier to be controlled using any remote control from a suitably equipped device(s) in the system

Samsung’s Tech Specs for my UN46D6050 “Smart” TV state:

Anynet + (HDMI-CEC) available

I’m at loss to understand the term “available,” which usually implies “at extra cost.” However, the set’s Specification Sheet PDF includes the following section (emphasis added):

CONNECTIONS
4 HDMI™ with Anynet+™ (CEC) Ver 1.3
• 3 USB Ports
• 1 Component Video Input
• 2 Composite Video Inputs
• 1 PC with Audio Input
• 1 Ethernet Port
• 1 Digital Optical Output

I’ll update this section after I test the feature.

My 24-inch Insignia NS-24E340A13 monitor, which I purchased online from Best Buy on 2/23/2013, has 2 HDMI connections but the specs don’t specify which HDMI version or whether the CEC feature is implemented. It’s unlikely that this US$140 “value TV” would offer any upscale features.


Janko Roettgers Reports Blip, Hulu, Vevo and Devour are coming to Chromecast 

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) asked “Chromecast is getting more support from publishers as Hulu, Vevo, Blip and Devour are all pledging to join. But is the platform ready for a lot of new apps?” in a summary of his Blip, Hulu, Vevo and Devour are coming to Chromecast post of 7/1/2013 to the GigaOm site:

imageGoogle’s new smart TV dongle Chromecast is getting more love from video publishers: Blip, Hulu, Vevo and Devour all have pledged to add Chromecast functionality to their platforms. But Google may not actually be ready to add too many apps just yet.

imageChromecast was announced last week with only a small line-up of native apps supporting the platform: Right now, Chromecast users can beam media from apps for Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies and Google Play Music to the streaming stick. A number of other publishers, including AOL and Pandora, will soon follow and, as we reported earlier this week, Vimeo, HBO and Redbox Instant were also preparing to launch on Chromecast.

Now you can add a bunch of new names to that list: A Blip spokesperson told us Thursday that the video platform is definitely adding support for Chromecast, but that the timing for this is still a bit in the air. Wednesday, Variety reported that Hulu is also committing to Chromecast. And a Vevo spokesperson sent us this statement Thursday:

“We will support Chromecast via our web, iOS and Android platforms although we do not have any launch dates to announce at this time.”

We’ve also heard from the video aggregation platform Devour that its app “will be gaining Chromecast support very soon.” However, users may have to wait a bit for Google to enable some of these apps. A Chromecast engineering manager remarked this week on Google+ that publishers may have to wait until the company releases the final version of the Google Cast SDK:

“The primary reason we are hesitant to enable many apps in is that we know that there will be breaking changes in our release SDK, and we are trying to avoid having Chromecast users that don’t need to understand the underlying SDK end up in a state where apps that were working one day stop working the next when we push and update.”

Full disclosure: I’m a registered GigaOm analyst.


Janko Roettgers Reports Vimeo and Redbox Instant Will Support Chromecast in GigaOm Post

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) asserted “It looks like Chromecast won’t be limited to playing content from YouTube and Netflix for very long, with a number of media platforms getting ready to support the new device” in a summary of his Vimeo and Redbox Instant are coming to Chromecast. Next up: Plex and HBO Go? article for GigaOm of 7/29/2013:

imageChromecast, the streaming video adapter introduced by Google last week, is quickly gaining support from a number of media platforms. Case in point: Vimeo told us it wants to support Chromecast, and we have learned that Redbox Instant is going to support the device as well.

imageThe makers of the Plex media center are also hinting strongly at plans to support Chromecast, and code found by Chromecast hackers seems to stem from efforts to bring HBO Go to the platform.

Chromecast launched last week with support for a limited number of music and video services. Currently, users can stream media from YouTube, Netflix and Google Play through the websites and mobile apps of these platforms.

Users can also mirror media form additional websites through a Chrome browser plugin, but this feature has been described as beta by Google. A number of additional services, including Pandora, AOL and Revision3, were also announced as forthcoming.

But it looks like that others may be getting ready to join the platform as well. When I asked Vimeo about its plans for Chromecast, I got this reply from the company’s VP of mobile, Nick Alt:

“We’re excited about the emerging opportunities bridging mobile to Connected TV and we look forward to offering Chromecast support in our products.”

I’ve also heard that Redbox Instant, which offer subscribers a mix online content and DVD rentals through Redbox’s kiosks, will bring its service to Chromecast. And when I asked a spokesperson for media center maker Plex for their plans for Chromecast, the response was that the Plex folks are “actively investigating and optimistic.” And then there’s this tweet from the Plex Twitter account:

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Finally, it looks like pay TV subscribers with access to HBO may be able to stream HBO Go via Chromecast soon as well. Configuration files unearthed by GTVHacker.com last week hint at tests for HBO GO alongside services that were officially announced as partners last week, and an HBO spokesperson has since confirmed to GigaOM that talks are ongoing to bring the cable network’s online offering to Chromecast:

“We are talking to Google but have nothing definite to offer on timing.”

Check out our first look at Chromecast below:

Click here for other links to GigaOm’s Chromecast content.

Here’s an editable Chromecast Content Partners spreadsheet (Source URL column omitted):

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Full disclosure: I’m a registered GigaOm analyst.

imageMarques Brownlee (@MKBHD) also produced a new Google Chromecast Review:


Matt Brian claims Google’s Chromecast has its roots in Android, not Chrome OS

Matt Brian (@m4tt) claimed Google’s Chromecast has its roots in Android, not Chrome OS in a 7/28/2013 post to The Verge:

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imageHaving successfully managed to gain root access to Google’s Chromecast dongle, the GTV Hacker team has identified that it runs a stripped-down version of Android taken from Google TV, not Chrome OS. Google had previously told The Verge that the Chromecast runs a variant of the web-focused operating system, describing it as “just a browser content shell.” [See below post.]

image_thumb4“We had a lot of internal discussion on this, and have concluded that it’s more Android than Chrome OS,” says GTV Hacker on its website. “To be specific, it’s actually a modified Google TV release, but with all of the Bionic / Dalvik stripped out and replaced with a single binary for Chromecast.” Gaining root access will not allow users to install apps like they would on an Android smartphone or tablet but the group isn’t ruling out the possibility that the dongle could take on Google TV-like features in the future.

image_thumb71With an exploit package already available, Android developers may be tempted to experiment with the Chromecast now they know it has roots in Google TV. By offering bootloader source code under a GPL license Google hasn’t exactly tried to stop developers from modifying the device but could move to patch the exploit in the future.


The Verge Quotes Google TV/Chromecast Product Management Director Rishi Chandra on Chromecast

Dieter Bohn (@backlon, pictured below) asserted “Google’s latest foray into the living room may actually have a chance” in a deck for his Keeping it simple: Chromecast, Google TV, and the zen of a $35 dongle article of 7/25/2013 for The Verge:

image_thumb111… Rishi Chandra, director of product management for Chromecast (and, not coincidentally, Google TV), says that Google is “making a bet, and it’s a pretty aggressive bet.” Google has finally found a strategy through which it hopes it can become as ubiquitous on televisions as it is on computers and mobile devices. But will it work?


Chromecast-5602_560

 

 



image_thumb4Chromecast is a device you plug into your TV that runs what Google says is a stripped-down version of ChromeOS, a description that undersells just how simple it is. “Literally it’s just a browser content shell,” says Chandra. All it can do is display content that’s sent to it from the cloud or your computer. It supports HTML5 video, audio, flash, and that’s honestly about it — local files, Quicktime, and Silverlight video aren’t supported yet.

image_thumb71Technically, Chromecast uses a new “Google Cast” standard. Your device’s apps and Chrome are able to know if there’s a Chromecast device on your Wi-Fi network and tell their cloud counterparts to stream to it. That’s one of the reasons that it’s limited to working with Chrome and a few specific apps: each needs to implement the Google Cast SDK to work with it. [Cast SDK link added.]

“Literally it’s just a browser content shell.”

imageBecause of this setup, Chandra says that Google is not tracking which videos you’re watching, despite the fact that much of the Google Cast operation happens on Google’s own servers. “All we will know is that we received something to send to somebody else. We have no information about the actual message itself.” While you can choose to opt into anonymous, aggregated user tracking, Chandra tells us that Google has no intention of turning Google Cast into an ad platform.[*]

Although the vast majority of what you’ll play on Chromecast comes directly from the cloud, Google does have a Beta feature called “Chrome tab projection” that allows Chrome to send web pages directly from your computer to a Chromecast dongle. Chandra tells me that this happens locally over your Wi-Fi network and not through Google’s servers. This feature uses a relatively new standard called WebRTC, which allows web browsers to communicate directly with each other and is the basis for a few video conferencing apps. [WebRTC link added.]

Last, but certainly not least, Chromecast has hardware-level DRM encryption. It’s what allows Chromecast to work with Netflix at 1080p. Google says that Netflix has specific clauses in its content contracts that require any device that receives a full 1080p HD stream to be protected in this way.

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Chromecast is a Google-style solution to the technical problem of getting content on your TV — it’s almost like the Nexus Q, but done right. Where Apple has a unified ecosystem of hardware products that it can test and optimize for compatibility, Google needs to solve for a vast array of manufacturers and software. Faced with a classic cross-platform conundrum, Google is defaulting to a classic cross-platform solution: web standards infused with Google services. …

Unfortunately, Chrome tab projection isn’t really a useful workaround. WebRTC doesn’t have the same benefits of low-latency and high-bandwidth that you get with something like AirPlay or even Miracast. In our brief testing, videos streamed over Google Cast had audio sync issues, and Chandra tells us that “around certain Wi-Fi configurations we’re not as resilient as we want to be.” Although, as Chandra says, “there’s no restrictions on what can be done” with tab projection when it comes to content restrictions, streaming a Hulu video will not be an enjoyable experience. As for future restrictions, Chandra wouldn’t comment on hypotheticals, “Our stance right now, what we’re enabling, is no different than an HDMI cable connecting your laptop to your TV.”

It also only works in Chrome and specific apps, a significant limitation. That means that your local content, like your photos and videos, will be difficult to get on your television. Calling streaming local content an “open question,” Chandra says “I’m not going to say we’re not going to do it.” For now, users will need to find a way to get their content into the cloud where either Chrome or an app can access it and stream it. Chandra believes that this issue will become less problematic over time: “At the end of the day, we’re Google, we assume more and more stuff is going to the cloud.”

Those limitations also preclude any sort of real games from working with Chromecast — for now at least. High latency and the lack of support for direct, local streaming means the kind of tablet / TV gaming combinations we’re seeing on iOS with AirPlay aren’t possible yet. “I think gaming is an obvious use case that we want to continue to invest in,” Chandra says, “but from my standpoint it’s not the number one priority for us.” …

* If you believe Chandra’s statement “that Google has no intention of turning Google Cast into an ad platform,” I have a bridge you can buy on the cheap.

The upshot: The $35 Chromecast won’t replace versatile $70 Android MiniPC/TVBox devices for everyone. However, it’s a good bet that the average consumer with a laptop and home WiFi network will consider Chromecast as a low-cost substitute for dedicated media players, such as Roku,


Brad Linder Posted a Detailed Chromecast Review to his Liliputing Blog

Brad Linder (@bradlinder) added a Google Chromecast streams internet video to your TV (Video) post to the Liliputing blog on 7/25/2013:

image_thumb121Google’s Chromecast is a $35 device that lets you stream internet videos to your television. Just plug it into your TV, fire up a video you want to watch on your phone, tablet, or PC, tap a button and the video pops up on your television.

image_thumb15At least that’s the theory. But how does the Chromecast perform in practice?

A lot better than you might expect for a $35 device. Not everything works exactly the way you might want it to, but the Chromecast is a surprisingly powerful, versatile device that doesn’t cost a lot of money — especially when you consider that customers get 3 free months of access to Netflix when they buy a Chromecast. Since that’s a $24 value, it’s kind of like you’re only paying $11 plus taxes and shipping costs for the hardware.

I ordered a Chromecast for myself yesterday, but while I’m waiting for it to arrive, Google was kind of enough to loan me a demo unit to test.

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image_thumb4The Chromecast is a 2 inch device that you can plug into your TV. It has a Marvell processor and connects to the internet with its built-in 802.11b/g/n WiFi receiver. Once it’s hooked up, you can start watching videos on your TV just by firing up the YouTube or Netflix apps on your Android or iOS phone or tablet, or any supported website in the Chrome browser on your Windows, Mac, Linux, or Chrome OS device.

There’s also a beta feature that lets you send the contents of any Chrome browser tab to your TV, whether the website officially supports Chromecast or not. The results can be a little hit or miss, but this feature opens the door for Chromecast to become the only internet TV device you need, since it basically opens anything you can access on the web on your television screen.

Google’s Chromecast is the first device to support the new Google Cast technology. But the $35 standalone box might be just the first of many devices to use Google Cast. Eventually you may be able to buy TVs, Blu-ray players, or other devices that have the technology baked right in, allowing you to stream internet content to your TV without a separate device.

Setup couldn’t be much simpler. You open the box, take out the Chromecast and stick it into the HDMI port on your TV.

If your TV can provide power through the HDMI port, that’s it for the hardware. If not, there’s an included USB cable and power adapter to plug in.

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Adjust your TV settings so that you’re viewing input from that HDMI port and in a few seconds a screen will pop up telling you the name of your Chromecast device and a URL to visit to download a setup app on your computer.

That URL, by the way, is https://cast.google.com/chromecast/setup.

You’ll be prompted to download and run the installer, which basically asks you to enter the password to your wireless network, scans to detect your device, and lets you rename it. The process is finished in seconds.

ccset (1)

That’s it. Now that the Chromecast is set up, you can start beaming videos to your TV.

Chromecast is running a simple version of Chrome OS, and when you send a video from your phone or tablet, what’s actually happening is you’re sending a command to the device so that it can grab content directly from the internet.

cc setup_03

In other words, you’re not actually streaming videos from your phone to the Chromecast. You’re telling it which video to start playing, and then using your phone as a remote control.

That means once a video starts playing, you can exit the app and check your email, surf the web, or just put your phone down while the video continues to play.

ctube_01

Supported apps at launch include YouTube, Google Play Movies, Netflix, and Pandora. Google has also released developer tools which means we could see support for additional apps soon.

When an app supports Google Cast and detects a supported device on your network, you’ll see a little icon in the video window that looks like a TV with a few little curved lines in the corner. Tap it, and you’ll have the option to watch a video on your Android or iOS device or send it to the Chromecast.

Once a video starts playing, it seems to be up to developers to decide exactly what happens next. While both the YouTube and Netflix apps let you pause, play, or move around on a timeline, the YouTube app shows a freeze-frame from the video on your phone while the movie plays on your TV.

cnetf_01

Netflix, on the other hand, shows cover art for the movie or TV show.

But Chromecast doesn’t just work with mobile devices. You can also install the Google Cast extension for the Chrome web browser on a Windows, Mac, Linux, or Chrome OS device to use your PC as a TV remote control — or to send content from your PC straight to the TV.

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Once installed, you can browse the web and any time you see a video with the little Google Cast icon, you can click on it for the option of sending a video to your TV. It’ll show up right in the video box, next to the icons that normally let you maximize or otherwise embiggen a video.

After a video starts playing, you can close the browser tab and go about your business. You can even turn off your computer. But if you want to control video playback, you may want to leave the browser tab open since you can use the on-screen controls for YouTube or other video sites to control playback.

cc nf_02

You can also tap the Google Cast icon in your Chrome toolbar to bring up a menu that lets you play, pause, mute, or stop.

There’s also a “Cast this tab” button which is one of the most intriguing features of Google Cast right now. The feature’s still in beta, but when you hit “Cast this tab,” it’ll send the contents of your browser window directly to the Chromecast over your WiFi network.

cast

Cast this tab doesn’t pull down video straight from the internet. Instead it beams whatever’s on your PC to your TV. That can include videos, games, photos, or other content — although I wouldn’t recommend using this for gaming, since there’s a little lag.

What you can do is stream content from sites that may not officially support Google Cast.

For instance, you can visit Hulu.com, cast the browser tab, and maximize a video to watch it full-screen on your TV. Normally you need to pay $7.99 for a Hulu Plus subscription if you want to stream Hulu content to a TV, but now you can do it for free… at least until Hulu starts blocking Chromecast.

This doesn’t work on every site — Amazon Instant Video didn’t work when I tested it, and your results will probably vary from site to site. And to be honest, the Hulu playback was a little choppy at times.

But the feature’s still in beta. Performance could improve as Google works out the kinks, and since Chromecast runs a version of Google Chrome OS, I suspect it’ll download software updates silently and automatically install them when you reboot the device.

Another fun thing to do with Cast this Tab is stream videos from your local storage. All you need to do is drag and drop a video into your Chrome web browse, and a video player will open up. Hit the Cast this Tab button, and that video starts playing on your TV.

cast_02

Not all video formats are supported, but I tried this with an H.264 video recording and it worked beautifully.

Keep in mind that if you’re streaming the contents of a browser tab to your TV, you need to make sure not to close that window. You can just leave it open in the background while you use your PC to do other things, but if you close that window or turn off your computer, video playback will stop.

Summary

Google’s Chromecast is fast, cheap, easy to use, and effective. It takes seconds or minutes to set up, lets you stream video from Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and even Hulu to your TV. And you can even use it as a way to send videos from your hard drive to your TV.

There are more versatile ways to turn your TV into a smart TV. But the Chromecast is simpler and easier to use and setup than an Apple TV, Google TV, Boxee Box, Roku, or any other device I’ve seen. That’s because it has no user interface to speak of — you control video playback pretty much the same way as you do on a phone, tablet, or PC, because those devices are your remote controls.

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For about the same price as a Chromecast, you could probably pick up a cheap Android mini PC like the MK802. But those devices take longer to boot, require you to navigate through the Android user interface to find and launch the apps and videos your looking for, and generally take longer to start a video.

If you want to play Angry Birds on your TV, the Chromecast won’t help you. And if you want to stream Amazon Instant Video, you’ll probably want to wait until Amazon releases its own set-top-box (or buy a device like a Roku which currently supports Amazon).

But after spending a little time with the Chromecast, I’m pleasantly surprised at just how well it does what it’s supposed to do: it brings internet video to your TV.

Visit Brad’s post for video content.

Brad Linder (@bradlinder) posted an earlier Google Chromecast roundup: Stream local files, peek at the insides, consider the future of TV on 7/25/2013:

Google’s Chromecast device went on sale this week, and the little $35 dongle could change the way we consume television. Or maybe it’ll just be a toy that folks play with for a little while and then tire of.

One thing is pretty clear: Google’s latest attempt at bridging the gap between your TV and your internet connection is generating a lot of excitement. Amazon is already out of stock, Google Play has pushed back estimated delivery dates to 3-4 weeks, and when one redditor walked into Best Buy and walked out with a Chromecast, his post generated more than 160 comments.

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What makes the Chromecast interesting is its low price and its ease of use. Sure, you can pick up an MK802 or another cheap Android TV stick and run a full-blown Android operating system on your TV for about the same price. But you’ll still need to figure out how to interact with Android on your TV, and deal with relatively slow boot times, occasionally sluggish performance, and other issues.

image_thumb12With a Chromecast, you’re not really treating your TV like a PC or Android device. You’re treating it like a big screen for your small phone, tablet, or computer. Find a video you want to watch, music you want to listen to, or a photo slideshow you want to display on your small device and with the tap of a button it’s on your TV.

It’s also interesting that Chromecast essentially runs a simplified version of Google’s Chrome OS. In other words, it’s using a type of Chrome web browser to handle your YouTube or Netflix videos, Pandora music streaming, or other content. And that means that pretty much anything you can access in a web browser should (at least theoretically) be available.

Does that mean you’ll be able to stream content from the Hulu website without paying for a Hulu Plus subscription?

Let’s put it this way — Hulu does work… for now. It also works on pretty much any site that uses Adobe Flash for video.

But Hulu and many other online video sites have a habit of blocking access to unapproved apps and devices. But any site that doesn’t explicitly block Chromecast might be fair game, since you can just fire up the Chrome web browser on your laptop, hit a button, and send the contents of any browser tab to your TV.

It could provide a much simpler solution than Google TV, Apple TV, Roku, or just about any other smart TV solution we’ve seen to date — and it’s cross-platform.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to have to pull out your phone or laptop every time you want to watch TV, those other solutions might still be more appealing.

Here’s a roundup of other Chromecast-related news from the past day.

Google Cast extension for Google Chrome

Want to send content from the Chrome browser on your PC to a Chromecast device? There’s a browser extension for that.

Just install the new Google Cast extension for Chrome and whenever you visit a Cast optimized website, including YouTube or Netflix, an icon will show up that you can tap to send video to your TV.

This extension also adds beta support for sending the contents of any browser tab to a Chromecast device, whether it’s an approved video site or not.

via Droid Life

Send local media (music, videos, etc on your hard drive) to Chromecast

While Chromecast is designed to let you stream content from the internet to your TV, as mentioned above it can actually send anything from a browser tab to your TV.

So here’s a neat trick: Open up the Chrome web browser on your computer and type c:/ into the address bar. You should see a list of files and directories on your computer’s C drive.

Navigate to a video file and you can play it through your Chrome browser — and if you can do that, you can also send it to your TV.

This is what the hardware looks like

Remember the Google H840 Device labeled H2G2-42 that passed through the FCC in May? Yeah, that was the Chromecast.

The FCC documents have been updated, and now we can look at the device’s insides.

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It turns out the Chromecast is powered by a Marvell DE3005 chip and an Azurewave 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n WiFi chip.

While full details of that Marvell processor aren’t available, it appears to be a low-power ARM-based processor which is similar to the chip used in Google TV devices. That should be more than enough power to handle most HD video streams, and since there’s no user interface to speak of, there shouldn’t be much of a lag issue with anything other than possibly starting video playback.

via Brian Klug


The Verge Claims “Google TV isn’t dead, will support Google Cast with update this year”

Dante D’Orazio (@dantedorazio) asserted Google TV isn’t dead, will support Google Cast with update this year in a 7/25/2013 post to The Verge:

image_thumb11Google may have released its AirPlay-like Chromecast dongle yesterday, but that doesn’t mean that its fledgling Google TV platform is dead yet. The team behind the streaming TV platform says that “we believe there is ample room for both products to exist and succeed,” and employee Warren Rehman says that many existing Google TV devices will be updated to support Google Cast — the AirPlay-like technology that underlies the Chromecast dongle.

image_thumb3Support to stream content from apps like YouTube and Netflix will come as part of the Android 4.2.2 update for Google TV, which was first announced earlier this year at the company’s I/O developer conference. The update also includes the newest version of the Chrome web browser and it paves the way for quicker upgrades in the future. First-generation Google TV devices like the Logitech Revue and Sony’s first products to use the platform will not get the update, however, as they are based on Intel chips. Products like the Vizio Co-Star and Asus Cube, as well as some newer LG and Sony TV sets will get the update sometime later this year.

image_thumb6Chrome and Android boss Sundar Pichai told CNET yesterday that “Google TV is moving forward in a major way” and “You’ll see more partners announced at CES.” Nevertheless, even with Google Cast support and a long-overdue update to Jelly Bean, there’s good reason why Google TV appears to be on its last legs. The service has failed to catch on in any major way (despite support from several manufacturers), and with the $35 Chromecast dongle and TVs with built-in Google Cast support on the horizon it appears there will be fewer opportunities to get Google TV into customers’ living rooms. Additionally, Google is rumored to be working on yet another TV product, a live, subscription-based internet television service meant to replace traditional cable. While Google Cast support will make Google TV a more complete product — particularly in comparison to the AirPlay-equipped Apple TV — it looks like the struggling platform is getting squeezed out.

I agree that Google TV “appears to be on its last legs” and I’m not sanguine about the prospects for the rumored “subscription-based Internet television service meant to replace traditional cable” that would compete with Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and other content syndicators. Google TV’s competitors are “Smart TVs” that currently carry a substantial price premium for basic Internet streaming services; dedicated TV boxes, such as Roku; and the techie-oriented Android Media Player TVBoxes and PCSticks I described in the article from which this content was extracted.


The Guardian Co. (UK) said “Chromecast is no AirPlay killer, but it does pose questions for smart TVs”

Stuart Dredge (@stuartdredge) asserted “Google’s new Wi-Fi dongle streams music, video and games to the television, but it’s part of a wider battle to control entertainment in the living room” in a deck for his Chromecast is no AirPlay killer, but it does pose questions for smart TVs article of 7/25/2013 for the Guardian Co. (UK):

imageWhenever I think about “smart” TVs, I’m reminded of a quote from Zeebox’s Anthony Rose made during an interview with GigaOm in April 2012.

“In the future, your TV will be a beautiful but dumb hi-res panel that will play the content it is told to by your smartphone or tablet,” said Rose, in response to a question about the significance of internet-connected televisions and their built-in app stores.

imageAccording to Ofcom’s 2012 Communications Market Report, 15% of UK consumers owned smart TVs at the end of last year, although separate research from Analysys Mason suggests that less than half of these people are likely to have actually connected their TVs to the internet.

One of several problems with smart TVs is their reliance on remote controls: an often-clunky experience at a time when touchscreen interfaces on smartphones and tablets have been getting slicker and more user-friendly at a rapid pace.

Hence the appeal of Rose’s theory that these devices will increasingly handle the smarts for our big, beautiful flat-screen TVs. They won’t be dumb, as such: it’s just that we’ll be outsourcing their thinking to the devices in our hands.

That’s where Apple’s AirPlay technology and the Apple TV box came in some time ago, and it’s where Google’s newly-announced Chromecast dongle and its developer SDK are looking to play too.

Chromecast

The device plugs into the HDMI port of a high-definition TV, and enables smartphones, tablets and computers to stream (or rather “cast” in Google’ lingo) music, video and games to the bigger screen in the corner of the room, AirPlay style.

“It works with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Music, with more apps like Pandora coming soon,” explains Google’s introductory blog post. “With Chromecast, we wanted to create an easy solution that works for everyone, for every TV in the house.”

Unlike AirPlay, Chromecast merely uses the second device as the controller: the actual content is streamed (over your home Wi-Fi network) from whatever digital service you’re using. Google says this will reduce battery strain on your smartphone, tablet or laptop, and also means you can continue using the device while casting.

There is already a Google Cast SDK for Android, iOS and Google’s Chrome browser, with aims of getting developers to integrate the technology into their apps, much like they would AirPlay on iOS.

This, of course, raises the question of whether Apple will approve apps that support Google Cast as well as AirPlay: there’s a chance this will become the latest skirmish between Apple and Google, although the fact that iOS apps are able to use Google Maps rather than Apple Maps is an encouraging sign that it may not.

Apple TV Apple has sold 13m of its Apple TV set-top boxes so far

Apple said in May that it had sold more than 13m Apple TV boxes, with around half of them sold in the previous year, but chief executive Tim Cook has tended to describe the product as a “hobby” for the company – albeit often to deflect question about any grander ambitions Apple has in the TV market.

At $35 a pop, Google may well sell more of its Chromecast dongles, especially if it convinces lots of people to buy several to cover “every TV in the house”. But asking whether Chromecast is an AirPlay or Apple TV killer isn’t the right question. What it means for smart TVs – including Google’s own Google TV initiative – is a more pertinent point.

Smart TVs will continue to sell in droves, because it’s actually quite hard to buy a high-definition TV without connectivity built in nowadays, even if you don’t then use it.

But digital services and app developers mulling whether to invest more time, effort and investment in making dedicated smart TV apps now have another alternative: to focus on integrating AirPlay and Cast into their smartphone and tablet apps instead.

That strategy only makes sense if Apple and Google can sell enough Apple TVs and Chromecast dongles, while possibly striking more deals with TV manufacturers to incorporate AirPlay and Cast into their upcoming products.

Yet with pretty much every big consumer-electronics firm scrapping for control of the flow of entertainment into the living room – Sony and Microsoft’s multi-screen plans for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are just as relevant here – it’s likely to be some time yet before developers and viewers alike have a firm idea of which content-slinging technologies will be here for the long-term.


A Diagram of the OakLeaf Systems Video Component Test System

My Consumers Reluctant to Connect SmartTVs to the Internet, use Standalone Devices Instead article of 5/30/2013 has similar quotes about the Analysys Mason research and related content regarding consumer acceptance and use of Smart TV features.This diagram describes our wired and wireless configuration after adding an HDTV monitor and MiniPCs and PCTVSticks in the office:

OakLeaf Network DSL2

Updated 8/3/2013 with addition of Netgear WN3000RP WiFi repeater and Ugoos UG007-II MiniPC to living room components.

Note that the DISH Networks DVR and Sling Adapter don’t work with the fixed IP addresses for my commercial DSL Internet connection. I use the Acer for playing *.mp4 time-shifted video from two Seagate 3-TB USB 3.0 disk drives and the Roku 3 or Google Chromecast for viewing streaming video from Netflix, Amazon and other Internet syndicators. The Ugoos UG007-II provides Android 4.1 1080P video display capabilities. I have no use for Samsung’s limited “Smart TV” features on this model.

Casting MPEG-4/H.264 Video Files with Chrome from a Windows Laptop

Although The Verge’s Dieter Bohn (@backlon) asserted Chromecast “… supports HTML5 video, audio, flash, and that’s honestly about it — local files, Quicktime, and Silverlight video aren’t supported yet” in a recent post, you can stream local MPEG-4/H.264 video files with the Chrome v28 or later browser on a Windows PC or laptop after installing Google’s Chromecast extension. You’re limited to a maximum of 720p resolution; depending on the speed of your network, you might need to reduce the resolution to 480p to prevent the video from freezing periodically.

Update 8/2/2013: Umer Salman (@umer936) reported Extra Settings on the Chromecast Extension for Chrome in a 7/28/2013 post to the XDA Developers site:

GoogleCast Extension Options

Hopefully, Google will provide some insight as to the purpose of and recommended ranges for these settings.

Brad Linder reported audio problems with local MPEG-4/H.264 streams he casted in his Google Chromecast streams internet video to your TV (Video) post of 7/25/2013 to his Liliputing.com blog. However, the audio sounded fine on all the files I casted at both 720p and 480p video resolutions. (I have external speakers connected to my Insignia HDTV monitor, which has very tinny built-in speakers.)

After setting up your Chromecast for the WiFi network to which the PC or laptop is connected and installing the extension, do the following:

1. Verify that your Chromecast is ready to cast:

ReadyToCast 1080px

2. Launch Chrome in full-screen mode and type file:///D:/Users/UserName/Path/Filename.mp4 in the address bar to begin streaming the file:

NetflixCast5

3. Optionally, pause and reset the segment to the starting point.

4. Click the >> button at the upper right of the to open the Chromecast gallery:

image

5. Select options to review your choices for streaming video from a Chrome tab:

NetflixCast6

NetflixCast7

6. Accept the default options for now and select your Chromecast’s name, Office for this example. Unlike conventional Chromecast streaming, after a few seconds the TV mirrors the active area of the Chrome browser’s tab:

Annika 1080px

Note: I photographed my 24-inch Insignia HDTV (used as a monitor) with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8 camera because the Chromecast won’t sync with my Hauppauge Colossus HDMI capture card. Images appear briefly at about 15-second intervals. The Colossus has a maximum resolution of 1080i and doesn’t have a problem syncing with direct Netflix connections.

Update 7/28/2013: MediaInfo data for the 1080i MPEG-4 AVC-encoded file used for this tutorial:

image

Tip: If your Chrome browser doesn’t find your previously configured Chromecast device, reboot it by removing and reinserting the MicroUSB power connector.