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back to article Chromecast: We get our SWEATY PAWS on Google's tiny telly pipe

Google just unveiled its Chromecast wireless streaming media dongle on Wednesday, and it's already being hailed by some media outlets as something close to the Holy Grail of internet TV. So does it live up to the hype? Clearly, much of the fuss stems from Chromecast's price tag. At $35 (UK and international pricing to be …

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Hmm, I would have expected it to be able to stream from local DNLA sources, samba shares etc. Without those, it does seem somewhat limited.

Guess I'll stick to my $25 (+P&P+vat) + wireless dongle + usb power Raspberry Pi. Slightly more expensive, and no Netflix, but still not a bad option.

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Anonymous Coward

You can play most local content, unlike the claims by the author. You just play them in the browser tab and cast that.

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jai
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but you have to be using the Chrome browser, right?

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jai
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Also, i'm wondering how well your browser copes with a 4gb HD mkv file? and how well does it then mirror that to the tv?

if it performs well then it could be interesting.

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With my Raspi running OpenELEC (XBMC) I control it with the TV remote, it streams from local attached USB drives or over the network. I think I can also get iPlayer via a plugin but never tried that. I need no Android device running Chrome near me to set things up/get things playing. One remote does it all. Why of why doesn't this device also do that stuff? It's certainly capable of doing it (I'm guessing its CPU is very similar to that in the Raspi), so its just a matter of wanting to do it, which perhaps Google don't want. Meanwhile Roku have their very similar product, people have Raspi's or other XBMC machines. Its going to get crowded.

I suppose I could upload my entire DVD collection to the cloud. Lets see, 500GB (H264) of data at 128kbits/s upload...thats...er....loads of time (9100 hrs? Surely not?). And off course I'll need to pay for that level of storage.

Hmm. Local storage still takes some beating.

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From the sound of it, this is basically Google marketing fluff instantiated in hardware, whose main aim is to get people to buy more tablets, and run the Chrome browser. Aided by some Anonymous Google shills to talk it up on forums like this.

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Windows

So Webify your local content

You do know that your Windows PC can provide a website that dishes your content over the Web to your local network (and not the rest of the world), right? No download - it's built right in. And then it isn't local, it's Internet that this thing can work with directly, and all your other devices too. Apps can webify your library too, with nice index pages. Almost all recent model network attached storage devices do this. If you're an Apple or Linux guy things are a little different to set up, but no big deal.

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Anonymous Coward

Is it Cinavia infected?

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Roku for $49

I saw an interview with the CEO of Roku yesterday. He mentioned they have had a similar product on the market (not sure for how long) for $49. So comparisons against the $99 product aren't valid really.

I don't know anything about Roku myself. I too thought Roku may be doomed with this $35 announcement but it sounds like they already have it handled - with a ton more content to boot. The CEO mentioned their most popular selling model is the $99 unit with the fancy earphone jack on the remote control. But obviously it's not their entry level product.

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h3
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Re: Roku for $49

Sky are selling one of the Roku LT's with the sky firmware on it at the moment for £9.99 (To do with NowTV).

Not much to gamble with the hope that it can be hacked.

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ARM stick

I don't understand the comment that it doesn't matter there's no Linux support, because it's only used to set up the device. Well, no it's not... per your own description, you will not be able to tell the stick to actually do anything but be a fairly expensive clock without the device to tell it to start playing videos and such. That said, as a Linux user I do have an Android phone anyway 8-).

So, this seems limited to me, but I have seen similar but more general purpose devices. I'm guessing hardware-wise this is a modestly clocked ARM with modest amount of RAM and storage, but with stock Android removed and special software put in it's place. I've seen these for $75-100 range that are physically similar (a "USB stick"), with HDMI, a USB (for power), additional USB (to plug into a hub if you want), wifi, ethernet, usually single or dual 1ghz or so ARMs, 1 or 2GB of RAM, and 8GB or so of on board storage. These ship with Android, but I intend to get one and throw Ubuntu for ARM onto it.

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Re: ARM stick

As far as I understood, there is some magic process where you need to use a specific setup software once. This setup software is the one that does not have a Linux version. I guess it has something to do with accessing a default Wi-Fi network.

After setup, you control the Chromecast via mobile applications and Chrome (hopefully, Linux version here). Chrome is just a mirror of the web browser. I fear the worst when marketing material only shows photos of this situation. Mobile applications need to be approved by Google, so expect there to be just a bunch of popular ones.

ARM sticks with Android are similar to Chromecast, except that they can do so much more. Chromecast is designed for video applications.

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$35 + Cost of a tablet remote

Isn't the big gotcha the requirement for a device, logically a small tablet, to act as a very expensive remote control?

Yes, a lot of people have smartphones and yes many also have tablets, but this requires the phone/tablet to be permanently available by the TV which is a big ask for a family. Which device takes precedence too, or will it turn into a battle every evening with everyone changing to their favourite programme? What happens when the kids need the tablet to do their homework, or Dad has to take a business call on his mobile and disappears with the 'remote' for an hour?

So no, the price of this 'dongle' isn't $35, not even close.

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Holmes

Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

@A Known Coward - >"Isn't the big gotcha the requirement for a device, logically a small tablet, to act as a very expensive remote control?"

I think that's the whole point - we've all got so many smartphones and laptops and tablets laying around the house already... I think my family has about 12 such devices right now (hard to keep track). I've got 4 personally. Might as well give them some way to interact with the TV.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

"What happens when the kids need the tablet to do their homework, or Dad has to take a business call on his mobile and disappears with the 'remote' for an hour?"

Well presumably, "mum" will just pick up her smartphone/tablet and carry on controlling the TV with that instead. It isn't tied to a single phone/tablet. Content can be played and controlled from any media device with the app installed - even a different platform.

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Facepalm

Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

And lets not forget it assumes that you have a TV. And that you have people to watch TV with.

So once you've bought a TV, and hired 3 hookers to watch with you real cost is like $1000!

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Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

Well that is good and well if you have already got a couch. .... and a house to put the couch in.

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FAIL

Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

--

@Andy Prough @A Known Coward - >"Isn't the big gotcha the requirement for a device, logically a small tablet, to act as a very expensive remote control?"

I think that's the whole point - we've all got so many smartphones and laptops and tablets laying around the house already... I think my family has about 12 such devices right now (hard to keep track). I've got 4 personally. Might as well give them some way to interact with the TV.

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...but don't families that have 12 smartphones, tablets, and laptops already have a way of consuming that content on the TV (smart TV, Apple TV, WDLive, Roku, HDMI cable from the PC, or something)?

What's the point of the extra dongle? Small market I think. If they'd gone to $50 and included a remote and ability to stream even a limited subset of local files (but less limited than Apple TVs subset) then I think it'd have killed Apple TV pretty much in last place.

As it is, it just increases OS entrenchment - Android owners will buy this, iOS owners will buy Apple TV, and everyone will also *still* have to also buy a WD Live, Roku, Netgear EVA or something like that too.

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Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

Costs are mounting. I'm rapidly going off this idea.

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Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

I have a retired 3rd Generation iPod touch and a retired Samsung Galaxy S that have been replaced with more recent models. I guess they could be brought out of retirement for use as a TV remote.

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Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

Come again? You've got three hookers and you're going to watch TV?

This really is a site for hopeless geeks.

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Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

You don't need a tablet, just Chrome on your existing laptop. If you don't have a laptop then add that to the cost of the TV, couch, house and hookers.

"Applications on the sender device can be Android or iOS applications, or a Chrome app"

https://developers.google.com/cast/developing_a_sender

Sure, people already have apps on Smart TVs, but how many people actually like to use those interfaces?

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Happy

Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

But the hookers are only there for the tomatoes.

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Childcatcher

Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

What's the point of the extra dongle? What's the pint of TV? I've managed withoud that particular opiate for the last 40-odd years...

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Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

What the pint of TV?

Depends what day it is, and how long you've been sitting there, and how many hookers you've got.

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Holmes

Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

Hookers, $20 each ,equals $60, which leaves $940 for the Tv, (including tax, batteries, and mounting).

OR $199 for a sub 32 inch , cheapo TV , which leaves $801 for the hookers.

hmmm....what to do,, what to do, oh the puzzlement !!

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Happy

Miracast

I have to say I was appalled when I learned how the Chromecast works.

But on the bright side, from the user comments I have learned about Miracast which: does precisely what I want, is already here (marketing names differ, Samsung calls it "AllShare Cast"; official feature of Android 4.3) and dongles for it cost not much more than the Chromecast (about 50€).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Miracast

So how on miracast do you set up a playlist for music that your friends contribute to? How do you start a movie playing and then pop out with your phone to answer a call without interrupting the movie for your friends?

How do you run 1080p HD content if your phone or tablet doesn't support it? How do you keep browsing the web while casting one tab or your browser to the TV? How do you watch a movie without having to play it on your phone at the same time?

The usage for these devices are very different.

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Re: Miracast

I have to say I was shocked when I found out that the chromecast would not support miracast. It would seem to be such an obvious feature for the device, and surely wouldn't have cost much more to add (assuming the wireless chippery supports wifi direct, it would "just" need certification and a bit of software)

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play videos stored on your device

"It can't stream anything that you've loaded directly onto the control device."

If it can show the contents of your Chrome browser, you can watch your device's videos. Just drag and drop them into a Chrome tab...

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Re: play videos stored on your device

Windowed and transcoded on the fly, yipee. Google calls it a beta feature, and reviews of it are not so hot right now.

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Boffin

Re: play videos stored on your device

Works flawlessly for me. Depends entirely on wifi signal, I guess - yay for single room apartments!.

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WTF?

Re: play videos stored on your device

Oh, and also, it plays fullscreen if you just click the ChromeCast extension. Not sure where this windowed rumor is coming from.

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nifty for the price

Still I needed a more hard core (ie expensive) solution to throw uncompressed HD off the PS3 to any tv in the house wirelessly including the projector lag free (for gaming and movies). Even 5Ghz 802.11ac is not fast enough so had to go with a proprietary solution using GigaXtreme tech that I love but won't spam here to avoid being called a shill.

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FAIL

Re: nifty for the price

Wow IOGear now has a good solution on WHDI to compete with my Nyrius Aries Home+ HD There offered a competitor but really enjoy my Nyrius.

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I read that Google are releasing the SDK for it so there will be apps appearing, if someone gives it local media support i.e. accessing local network content, then this will be a winner. It has already sold out in all the major suppliers in the US.

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Anonymous Coward

The Cloud exists. We have no need for local media.

The Cloud exists. You have no need for local media.

The Cloud exists. They have no need for local media.

The Cloud exists. I have no need for local media.

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The Cloud has evaporated. I wish I still had my local media.

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I'm pretty sure I heard that Google will vet all apps which use their SDK. Whether they can do that for something designed to work within a local network is another matter, but you might be disappointed. I sense this, like other media playback/distribution restrictions, is to keep the Copyright Cartel happy rather than to suit Google.

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Shut down apps

I am pretty sure that Google is smart enough to not try to shut down the Chromecast version of deCSS.

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Anonymous Coward

The Cloud exists. We have no need for local media.

As an old soixante-huitrd, could I just note you have omitted the last line: "Ils profitent".

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As useful as Apple TV then?

That is, if you are not part of the ecosystem, this product is not for you. It even looks like Apple TV can do something more than Chromecast: play from a local device of the network.

Marketing guys did a great job then: most people are confused on what the device can do. A colleague of mine did not believe that it was not the mobile phone doing the streaming.

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Re: As useful as Apple TV then?

The "ecosystem" in this instance is an IOS device, Android device or a Chrome browser. You don't even need a Google account.

And it does stream local content if you can play it in Chrome. On Windows it supports MKV, MP4, MP3, JPG and possibly others.

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Anonymous Coward

Streaming a film to TV via Wi-Fi....

I've had mixed results streaming video to TV. I always seem to get lag at moments where the film hangs. I'm only using a basic Wi-Fi router from my ISP and the walls are medium thick where I live. But still.... Anyone else run into this? To get over the hiccups I've stayed with using mini-wireless-keyboard + netbook hardwired into the TV via HDMI... I wonder, can this G device handle 1080P with a high frame rate on home Wi-Fi....?

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Unhappy

NETFLIX option CANCELLED

Due to an overwhelming acceptance of this product, according to the LA Times, Google has been forced to withdraw the Netflix bonus.

All existing Netflix codes will be honoured.

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Re: NETFLIX option CANCELLED

they didn't "cancel" the offer-- they ran out of promo codes. it was labelled a limited time offer from the beginning.

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Devil

" If you were hoping for a device that would let you stream the MKV files of TV shows that you downloaded from ---BitTorrent--- authorized sources to your TV, this isn't it."

Unless you were to, say, upload them as private vids to your Youtube account...

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Holmes

"There's also a Chrome extension that lets your TV mirror your browser window, but that's about it."

And what if I happen to have an .avi or .mpg open in my browser...?

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Paris Hilton

Sounds like a porn mode to me.

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