As consumers of media we stand at the forefront of a brave new world. With the likes of Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV and countless others, it has never been easier to watch your favorite TV show or big budget blockbuster in the comfort of your own home, all at the touch of a button. Unfortunately many people have to huddle around laptop screens or crowd around a smartphone to watch them. But, devices like the Chromecast are changing that. What is Chromecast? Find out below.
Luckily there are a number of devices on the market that allow you to access streaming services on your big screen. Sure, you’ve heard of Roku and Apple TV, but there is a simpler, less expensive option. You know the plastic hockey puck sitting on store shelves sporting the Google brand name? That’s called a Chromecast and it’s your ticket to big screen entertainment. So, what is Chromecast and how does it work? We’ll explain in the guide below.
What is Chromecast?
What is Google Chromecast? The Chromecast is a small device made by Google that acts as a digital media player. They are designed as small, unobtrusive dongles that are plugged directly into an HDMI port on your TV. Using a phone, tablet or computer as a remote control, the Chromecast allows users to access multiple streaming services and Google Play apps, right on your television screen.
How Does Chromecast Work?
The Chromecast is simply a gateway to streaming online content like Netflix or YouTube on your TV. Using your phone, tablet or computer, access an app that supports the Chromecast function. Locate the Chromecast symbol from within the app and tap on it. This essentially tells the Chromecast what you want to watch and where to find it. The Chromecast then grabs the content and streams it directly on your TV screen. This is how to use Chromecast – nothing too complicated!
What Do I Need?
First of all, you’ll need a Chromecast and an HDTV with a free HDMI port. You will also need an existing Wi-Fi network with decent speeds. Finally, you’ll need a mobile device or computer to act as a remote. The Chromecast supports both iOS and Android, and computers running Windows or OS X. Finally, Chromecast includes a USB cable and wall adapter for power. If your TV has a USB port, you can plug the Chromecast’s USB cable into that, negating the need for the wall adapter.
How to Use Chromecast?
Simply plug the Chromecast into an HDMI port on your TV and connect it to a power source. Then, follow the on screen instructions to connect to your existing Wi-Fi network. Once the Chromecast and your “controller” device (phone, tablet or computer) are connected to the same Wi-Fi, they can talk to each other. Use the apps on your mobile device or computer to tell or “cast” information to the Chromecast. The Chromecast then retrieves the content you want to watch and displays it on your TV screen.
What Can I Watch?
The number of apps that support the Chromecast is growing everyday. Google keeps track of most, but with new apps boasting Chromecast support everyday, it is by no means a comprehensive list. Most people will be happy to know that virtually all of the popular video and audio streaming services are compatible. In our opinion, some of the best Chromecast apps are as follows:
- Sling TV – Sling TV provides live streaming access to 30+ channels for $20 per month, with no contract required. Key channels include ESPN, AMC, CNN, TNT, TBS, Comedy Central, and more. You can start things off with a free 7-day trial.
- DIRECTV NOW – DIRECTV NOW provides live streaming access to 60+ channels for $35 per month, without a contract. It includes channels like ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, CNN, NBC, FOX, and many more. DIRECTV NOW offers a free 7-day trial.
- Netflix – Netflix offers on-demand streaming of thousands of hit TV shows, movies, and more. Chances are, you already know what Netflix is, as it’s the most popular streaming service by far. Plans start from $8 per month.
What’s the Difference Between Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra?
There are two different flavors of the Chromecast, not counting Chromecast Audio (what is Chromecast Audio? Basically, it’s a Chromecast for your speaker system!) Since these two varieties boast the exact same content, the only real difference is their supported resolutions. The standard Chromecast can display resolutions up to 1080p, or Full HD. The Chromecast Ultra, on the other hand, supports 4K and HDR.
For those who were wondering, Chromecast Audio works exactly the same as it’s video-based counterparts, but instead of plugging into a TV, you plug it into a speaker. You can then stream audio content over Wi-Fi to that speaker.
Simply put, the Google Chromecast is a great way to experience streaming video services the way they were meant to, on your TV. The device is easy to set-up and super cheap compared to some of it’s competitors. Using your phone, tablet or computer in lieu of a traditional remote can take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it it becomes second nature. If you subscribe to video streaming services and aren’t watching them on your TV, then the Chromecast is a no brainer.