The search giant, Google, unveiled today a new device called Chromecast, which is a new device priced at $35 that lets users stream videos, music, and Google Chrome tabs (beta feature) from a computer or phone to any connected TV. Basically any computer (e.g., tablet, laptop, and desktop) or smartphone becomes a remote control to stream media to the big screen.
The device is a small HDMI dongle that easily connects to any TV that supports HDMI, of course, then the second part of the puzzle is a Chrome extension for the web browser (Windows and Mac) or an iOS (iPhone and iPad) or Android (smartphone or tablet) app. Though, it seems that Google left Windows Phone users out in the cold, as Microsoft’s phones are not supported, at least for the time being.
Once the device is set up, it will now work as a remote control with functions like play and pause, control volume, and even turn the TV on. You’ll be able to queue videos and continue the playback even if your phone (iPhone or Android) is on standby. The best part is that you can still check your email, browse the web, and other tasks without interrupting playback.
Chromecast runs a stripped-down version of Chrome OS, supports full HD (1080p) video streaming with support of 5.1 surround sound, and is USB powered. Other than YouTube videos users will able to play videos from Google Play Videos, Netflix, and music from Google Play Music and Pandora. Also Google is releasing an SDK for developer to add this new streaming support to other apps.
In the computer side Google promises that users will be able to project Chrome tabs to the TV enabling access any web page or videos from different services. The feature still in beta, but is coming soon.
The HDMI dongle is available for pre-order now from Google Play for customers in United States. Also Amazon and Best Buy will carry the new device at the same price of $35 starting July 28th.
Google’s also has a bigger plan for the new streaming device, the company announced that it’s working with different partners to integrate the device on different TVs — So, it’s like the search giant is trying to reinvent Google TV and go after the Apple TV.
Although, Google’s Chromecast seems like nice device to expand entertainment to the big screen, I can’t stop thinking the similarities to Microsoft’s SmartGlass, which is pretty much the same concept of using a PC or phone (available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone) to control any Xbox 360 and get access to YouTube, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Xbox Music, and many more media streaming apps.
Furthermore, Windows 8 also offer Play To feature, which basically allows you to stream videos and music to any Xbox 360 or Play To capable version of Windows. And if I have to add one more similarity, I will have to mention Miracast, which is a new feature coming in Windows 8.1 and let users project their desktop computer to any Xbox 360 and Xbox One.