Google Chromecast: Hot or Hype?

Tony Bucca, special to Nvate

Nvate Chromecast by Google TV Internet browsing, video and music streaming Netflix

Credit: John Biehler

There’s a new way to slash the cost of your cable bill, keep the little ones from “Yo Gabba Gabba” overload, and share family photos right on your TV. Google’s new Chromecast video and music-streaming device retails for a scant $35. Best of all, it’s easy to set up in minutes.

But calling Chromecast a video and music-streaming device is a little shortsighted. Hook it up, and you can also send your Internet tabs right to your TV. You could conceivably invite all the moms in town over for a cocktail party, and send your blog or Twitter feed right to your TV. Or you could just stick to Chromecast’s more practical applications, such as watching Netflix.

Chromecast Comforts the Technically Challenged

Chromecast is easy to set up, even for the technically challenged. Slip the little Chromecast drive into your TV’s HDMI port, and connect the small cord to the TV’s USB port to supply its power. If you don’t have a USB port, there’s also an adapter you can simply plug into a wall.

Once the device is hooked up to your TV, download the set-up app for your Mac, PC or other device by following the prompts. If you don’t have a Chrome browser, download it for free, and you’re ready to go. Any time you’re browsing with Chrome, you can click on the handy “Cast” button to send videos, images, music, or your entire web tab straight to your TV.

The Upsides, Downsides and Unexpected Surprises of Chromecast

The upsides are huge. For starters, you can stop complaining about how cable should go à la carte. If you’re tired of wrangling a hefty cable bill, but your husband is addicted to “Sports Center,” just nix it all together. Instead, order a robust Internet package through a site such as Internet.hughesnet.com, and Chromecast your way through ESPN videos to your TV.

You can use Chromecast on anything you can browse Chrome with, such as an iPhone or Kindle. And unlike Chromecast’s competitor Apple TV that retails for upward of $100, you’re no longer confined to confusing video streaming menus or the inability to do anything else on the computer. Chromecast lets you multi-task. You can stream video to your TV, all while wasting time on Facebook under the guise of working. And speaking of Facebook, you can make a new rule that all your kids’ social media activity must be Cast to the TV for communal viewing.

It’s true there are downsides to Chromecast. If you have a painfully slow Internet connection, Chromecast won’t work for you. Videos will stall and get hung up. Cable TV lets you watch all the “Real Housewives” franchises, all while cursing your Internet for not working fast enough. I also have a feeling Internet providers will soon charge a steep premium for streaming video to make up for the mass exodus of cable viewers. And the new wave of smart TV’s could mean accidentally Casting a YouTube video of you dancing in your underwear in college instead of your daughter’s first birthday to your TV for all to see. That’s also a big downside.

For more information, visit Google.com/Chromecast.

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