On impulse, over the weekend, I bought the Google Chromecast. Not the new generation that was just announced about a week ago, but the little dongle that has been on the market for quite some time. Initially, I never really thought much about Chromecast, or its ability to make any TV with a spare HDMI slot transform into a truly smart TV. After all, its only main function is to push or handoff contents, be it music, or video or just about any other digital content to your TV. Using any smart devices at hand, either a tablet or smartphone, you can use that as your remote and push any supported content to your TV so long as the app in question supports it. A simple concept, but one that I underestimated its usefulness.
Now, after spending an afternoon with it and some of its various smartphone and tablet apps supporting chromecast, I must say, it is easily one of the best 65 bucks spend on a gadget. Coupled with Infuse app by Firecore, I can now push any video content from my WD MyCloud to my TV in a visually pleasing interface from either my smartphone or tablet. It is seamless, easy to use and mostly glitch free. And when I mention glitch free, it is true that it isn’t perfect, but far better than any other solutions out there in terms of costs.
The video streams smoothly to my TV with occasional stuttering and short pauses indicating buffering. I think this is due to certain video formats being handled by Chromecast. I am speculating here, but I think, that certain video formats are simply too demanding to be transmitted over wi-fi, due to its bandwidth demands. One thing I find strange though is that on newer devices such as the iPhone 6, the stuttering almost doesn’t occur when videos are being casted from it. But switching to an older model, like the iPhone 5, stuttering happens now and then. I am not sure if the devices capabilities are directly affecting the streaming quality, or if there are on-the-fly transcoding happening in the phone that the phone just couldn’t keep up when certain videos formats calls for on-the-fly transcoding. I am still quite hazy as to how Chromecast actually works in terms of where contenting is being push around and finally to the TV. It seems like battery drains noticeably when I used the app in the phone to push video streams to Chromecast dongle.
It is a minor gripe that happens only to small subset of video formats. Most of the time, it played fine, and I am happy with it. Video looks crisps, and the framerate being displayed on tv is of a much higher framerate. You can really tell the difference in the streaming quality that Chromecast is pushing to your TV. It performs admirably.
I write a more detailed update when I have more time using it in the coming weeks. For now, allow me to enjoy my new gadget for the rest of the weekend.