Google really wants to be a part of your TV experience. Back in 2010, the company introduced Google TV, which went—where exactly?
Well now, the search engine wants to make Google TV a lot easier, smaller and cheaper. The company just introduced Chromecast, a $35 dongle that puts the web right on your HDTV. Instead of packing those features into a set-top box with a remote or some type of keyboard, this small solution can be controlled via an existing smartphone, tablet or laptop.
According to Google, the Chromecast works with Android and iOS devices, as well as Chrome for Windows, Chrome for Mac, and Chromebook Pixel. Support for Chromebooks is expected to follow at some point soon.
At about 2 inches, the actual Chromecast device looks a lot like a USB thumb drive. However, instead of a USB port, it plugs into an available HDMI port on your TV or receiver. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have any love for USB. However, the Chromecast’s USB port is strictly for use with the included USB power cable. Yes, it needs power to work, which means that even though this thing is small, it’s not that easy to hide.
Once it’s plugged in, the Chromecast connects to your home’s wireless network to put YouTube, Netflix, and Chrome on your HDTV. Even better, it also delivers Google Play movies and music selections, making the entertainment options pretty much endless. It should also deliver all of those things with a pretty decent picture, since it can deliver up to a 1080p video resolution.
Also important to note is that Chromecast won’t tie up or drain your portable. The dongle actually streams from the cloud and allows your device to go into sleep mode or be available for other tasks while you’re watching TV.
Both Google Play and Best Buy are currently taking orders for the Chromecast, which also comes with three months of free Netflix service for both new and existing subscribers. UPDATE: The Netflix promotion has ended.
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Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.