back to article Reg tries out Google's Chromecast: Yep, we even tested smut sites

Google’s Chromecast has finally gone on sale in the UK after an age of waiting following its initial US release in July last year. This digital media player in the form of an HDMI dongle delivers streaming content to a telly including support for the BBC’s iPlayer. It’s only 30 quid too – so you might as well buy one even if it …

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Discovered ChromeCast was out here yesterday. Hopefully mine should have arrived from Amazon today. :)

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got mine yesterday

Went for the 2-5 day super saver shipping and it arrived within 16 hours. Bonus weekend playtime.

I don't have an apple TV and was looking at setting up Plex on my old desktop pc, so this fits nicely for future use.

Meanwhile Netflix on a big screen without having to plug the laptop to the (7 year old) TV is real reason I bought it. Works a treat - can start playing from my iPhone and it takes over, don't need to keep it running - but you can if you want a remote.

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Pint

@Google - Features Request

1) For Android devices, there's no need to limit yourself to adding the 'Cast' feature to specific apps, one by one. Build this 'Cast' capability into the OS, i.e. *your* Android OS. I can see why you won't be able to build this into Apple's iOS, but there's no excuse for not building it into Google's Android. (My guess, you're already working on it.)

2) There should be a feature to effectively redirect the audio back to the portable device, for convenient use of headphones. Think about it, it's brilliant.

3) Bug report: After selecting Canada, it still offered Pandora. Following the links, it was - of course - still not actually available. A very rude tease.

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Anonymous Coward

Ordered

I can't wait to give it a go.

At that price, you don't even need to think about it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: At that price, you don't even need to think about it.

They threatened to send me a Surface if I didn't do it.

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Re: Ordered

At that price, you don't even need to think about it.

No, but I can think about it, if I wish. And I did. And I don't want one. I can think of plenty of things I'd rather spend $35 on.

I'm sure many folks will find Chromecast useful, but "buy it because it's cheap" doesn't strike me as a compelling argument.

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Worth reading

I have no intention of buying one (between them, the telly and the XB360 handle all the media streaming I need) but I enjoyed the article and very nearly spat coffee at the monitor on learning of the existence of the nonfunctional ImageFap.

Who comes up with these names?

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Ordered mine from the Google Play store

it has just arrived, so I'll attempt to put mine through its paces this weekend :)

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Pint

Re: Ordered mine from the Google Play store

"...put mine through its paces this weekend."

It won't take that long.

It took me about 30 minutes to make it work (mandatory download, etc.), and then I was more or less bored with it in just about 20 minutes more. It's more functional than interesting.

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Stop

Next stop...

Adverts a la Youtube: "You're watching [blah] - Google recommends [blah that someone has paid to advertise over your blah]"

... although watching Chromecast through Google Glass could make for some interesting data farming feedback looping... :)

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WTF?

Re: Next stop...

When did sensible levels of cynisism start earning downvotes on this site?

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Re: Next stop...

Actually (and I'm amazed this isn't in the article) Chromecast doesn't serve ads on YouTube. Doubtless this oversight will be dealt with at some point by Google but right now I'm finding it a great way to watch YouTube playlists uninterrupted.

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Re: Next stop...

Our kids like to sit around with their tablets and take turns throwing funny YouTube videos to it.

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds like a typical non-Apple product then. It "sorta" works.

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typical non-Apple product

As apposed to a typical Apple product then. It works if you are holding it correctly and you don't want to know where you are going.

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Anonymous Coward

Some people need a device that only kind of works. That way they can fill their evening with tinkering because so it's less noticeable how empty their lives are.

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Me Piggin TV only has x3 HDMI :(

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Unhappy

Down-votes for Language use?

Or for being too lazy to unplug something else?

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Buy an HDMI switch. My TV only has 2 ports, so I bought this one.

Worth every penny to the lazy man!

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Ah a pattern is emerging. Up vote to compensate kind Sir.

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Snap: bought the same beast for the same reason on the same day as the Chromecast arrived. Lovely piece of dirt-cheap kit, works flawlessly.

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Tab-casting versus handover

When you tab-cast anything from your Chrome browser, your PC is indeed doing the heavy lifting. It has to transcode the incoming video stream to a compatible format and re-transmit it to the Chromecast. The Google Cast extension in Chrome that does this is not very efficient, and the video stutters, quite badly on slower computers. The WiFi connection doesn't really enter into it.

When you cast from the BBC iPlayer app on Android, it instead hands over streaming to the Chromecast itself. You can shut down your Android device entirely if you wish after starting playback on the Chromecast. In this mode you will find that the BBC iPlayer video streams smoothly.

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Re: Tab-casting versus handover

Yes, Netflix and Hulu both stream straight to Chromecast once the connection is made. Your phone just acts as the remote control. So if you use the device in this fashion, it works great, as there is no third party device "in the way" to slow things down. Of course, your internet and WiFi speeds make a difference.

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Re: Tab-casting versus handover

Yes. Netflix and Plex etc all hand off the transmission from your phone or PC to the dongle.

Netflix is superb through it; it means you can use your phone to browse and pop it up on the TV when you find something to watch; Plex similar.

The Chromecast is *superb*, I couldn't be more positive about it. Really neat way to make a TV accessible to your content.

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Re: Tab-casting versus handover

AJames is entirely correct - tabcasting is a beta feature, but the review seems to think it's the main function; it's not.

The main function of the device is to act as a client for streams, which the Chromecast software provides it with (IE you go to Youtube on a browser, load the video, and hit the 'cast' button, it just sends the stream address to the Chromecast, and it does everything else).

If you try to Chromecast a tab, the computer is attempting to transcode the entire display framebuffer to H264/WebM and transfer across a potentially flaky wifi signal, with expected results - lag, and occasional image quality issues.

Tabcasting is useful (it sure as hell beats hooking a laptop to the TV over HDMI to show a webpage or something) but it's not the reason d'etre of the device - streaming longformat video content (see youtubes Drive channel as an example - most of their car reviews are nicely shot in HD and last around 15-20 mins - or Netflix) whereupon the quality is really rather nice (better than a browser with Flash in my experience - no framedrops, 720p all the way) and it's a 'nicer' viewing experience.

Something like Drives Big Muscle channel (lots of muscle cars) through a decent AV system via Chromecast would be far, far superior to watching it on a desktop with a 2.1 or on a laptop through headphones.

I've bought one, I use it almost exclusively for Youtube long format stuff, and as far as I'm concerned, it's totally worth it. No muss, no fuss, just works - even though it doesn't like my Draytek AP (I've got it connected to an Engenius AP I normally use for my bedroom upstairs - so not optimal but no problems with transfer rates it seems) and it fits a use case that I can exploit.

The Synology DS Video app works OK - if you feed it an MP4 as my DS214+ doesn't transcode, so I can't use Plex on it....(which does apparently work....)

Hurrah!

Steven R

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Re: Tab-casting versus handover

"Drives Big Muscle channel (lots of muscle cars)"

Are you sure that's what that channel shows?

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Re: Tab-casting versus handover

Ceser states: "The Chromecast is *superb*, I couldn't be more positive about it. Really neat way to make a TV accessible to your content."

I agree, I bought one after reading the review here on el reg. Using my Nexus 2 in conjunction with the chromecast app is a very good experience indeed, the nexus can be shut down, charging, doing nothing at all, running different apps or working as your remote control.

I have a Sony Bravia which has most video services built into it except for Netflix. To be able to watch Netflix without turning on my PC, logging in, going to Netflix and selecting a film, then switching my graphics card output from dual monitor to the HDMI connection to the TV is well worth the £30 I paid for it alone. I imagine that more video streaming sites will become available over time which will make it even more useful.

If you have the £30 to spare then I would recommend buying one! The only downside for me is that as an owner of a Nokia Lumia 925 phone, I can not stream (I can't see Google creating a method like this for WP8 phones!) so let that be a warning to potential users, it doesn't (and likely never will) work with WP8 or at least the vanilla WP8 I use.

Still, android phones work as do modern iPhones; laptops and desktops too. The method is different for laptops and desktops but it does eliminate the need for the HDMI cable which now has a new home being permanently connected to my RPi.

Potentially using this whilst being on the go (staying in hotel rooms) is also a big boon but I haven't tried that yet and the only way to switch Wi-Fi networks seems to be a hard reset. I will have the opportunity next week so fingers crossed I can watch big screen Netflix instead of Nexus Netflix.

I'm not a big fan of google but along with the Nexus 2, they seem to have created a very good product indeed. 5 stars! Note that the service working from a pc or laptop is not quite as smooth.

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I'm very happy with mine--for me, it's worth it for YouTube, Plex and Pocketcasts alone. It'll be dead handy when it gets added to Google Drive and you can cast a slide presentation.

You're right though--it works much better when you use cast-enabled apps, compared to casting from Chrome tabs on a PC. Although the latter works acceptably for me.

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Anonymous Coward

Shouldn't need one ...

as my TV (LG) has Miracast and WiFi Direct inbuilt. Unfortunately my tablets version doesn't work :(

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Go

I've had an import for a few months and have just received a UK edition. For my use-cases it works perfectly, everything is done from an Android device and the content I use it for is mainly from Google Play Movies (both rented & bought; Game of Thrones series 3 was available a long time before you could get it on DVD), YouTube and now iPlayer. I also use an Xbox360 for streaming LoveFilm or NowTV but it's rare that I don't get any buffering though this, the Chromecast seems to handle it better when I have one kid skyping and another watching youtube.

I have a RaspBMC for streaming local content from my NAS.

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Pint

A must have

I've had one for months (got it off Amazon.com) and I love it. I tend to use it from my Nexus 7. I tend to use it for Netflix and youtube but also Play Music, I dont subscribe I just use it to play my own content. I have set up so when I rip a CD its automatically uploaded to Play Music and then I can play via Chrome Cast and the new addtion of BBC iPlayer adds an extra incentive. I also have a few other apps that will work with it as well (all cast is a good one).

I have cast stuff from Chrome via my PC and that works though not as well as the dedicated apps.

Never had a moments problem with it, was the best £30 I've spent.

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I've had two for the past few months

Mostly I've been using mine with youtube and plex, with some google music mixed in.

The Plex support was the main reason I went for it and generally it works very well, with most of the problems I have (e.g. freezing if I skip around the video a few times) appearing to be a Plex problem rather than a Chromecast problem.

Youtube support works well and gets a regular work out, google music is also good and I don't think you need to pay £10/pm unless you want access to the general catalogue (I do pay it, replaced my Spotify a while back).

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Re: I've had two for the past few months

Limited movie library vs comprehensive music library is about the sum of it.

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NetFlix vs Music

Going off on a tangent, why are all-you-can-eat film services priced at ~£6 per month whereas the corresponding music services are £10 a month? Audio+video should be more expensive than audio-only, shouldn't it?

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Re: NetFlix vs Music

Your point might explain why the movie industry is still fairly strong and the music industry is largely a corpse. Not that the MPAA isn't a POS but the music industry fighting digital music download early on instead of embracing it and keeping the that mindset to some extend even today shows why we get endless boy bands as the latest greatest thing.

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Re: NetFlix vs Music

Fair point, but the slight difference is that your £6/mo buys you transient access to a tiny fraction of the video content made in the last 50 years, with almost nothing produced in the last 12 months.

Conversely, the £10/mo for the music service gets you just about everything that's been recorded and committed to bits in the same period*, with most new releases available immediately for stream and download.

Imagine a £18/mo video service that offered the same freedom? Doesn't seem likely, does it?

I think longer term the music model may prove to be more sustainable.

As for Chromecast the only issues I've had are with occasionally unresponsive control, but that may be my BT HH3 which seems to be on the way out. Great little device for sticking on the kids' distinctly un-smart bedroom TVs.

*Digital hold-outs excepted. AC/DC, I'm looking at you *growls*

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Coat

"In the interests of research I discovered that ImageFap wouldn’t show anything, YouPorn was quite happy to relay video from a Google Cast tab and xHamster slideshows would also play out nicely. You’ll have to do battle with pop-ups though."

Battling with pop-ups while browsing porn? Not a problem >_>

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Re: ...a solution...

The problem is browsing content efficiently on a TV to playback on a TV. The solution is browsing for the content on your phone to playback on the TV.

Have had a Chromecast for a couple of months, I love it for playing Netflix, play music, Plex and you tube, and now iPlayer. And my wife finds it easy to use too which is a huge plus.

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Re: ...a solution...

>...a solution... looking for a problem.

Keeping making those cable executives rich. I personally for an admitted slight hassle enjoy the $75+ a month I save not having a cable bill. This device is an easy cheap way to add internet TV to a TV.

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Happy

i'm on my way to buy one.

If I can find a store locally...yep...

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Super!

Got mine this morning. I already have an extensive Plex library, a Netflix subscription and all my music on Google Music, so this was a no-brainer for me.

I'm controlling it from a Nexus 5 phone and a couple of Nexus 7 tablets. So far, it's played everything flawlessly (including direct play of 1080p movies from Plex). I've also been impressed by the quality of the iPlayer and Vevo apps. This is what tablets were made for :)

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my simple chromecast review

I have it in my back bedroom and now I have cut the cable cord I do like it. Its is fairly convenient and cheap. It can be a bit buggy but not annoyingly so. My only real annoyance is occasionally have to unplug the power cable to the thing to reboot it when in a hurry. It can be a PITA to get the thing from a paused netflix movie to the pretty natures scenes screen. I don't like leaving wifi on my phone after I set the movie playing so its a hassle to do it any other way quickly. Still for $35 tough to beat it for internet tv.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: my simple chromecast review

"It can be a PITA to get the thing from a paused netflix movie to the pretty natures scenes screen."

Go on then, why would you be wanting to do that in a hurry? Arf arf.

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Re: my simple chromecast review

>Go on then, why would you be wanting to do that in a hurry? Arf arf.

Nah casting porn is for those that are single. Too risky lol. For me its more because I have to get my ass to work in the morning after let the kid watch Sponge bob or whatever.

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My HDMI cable from my computer to my TV seems to do all these things, was cheaper and has no delay.

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