back to article Google's new Chromecast spills its simplistic guts

Google's li'l Chromecast media-streaming HDMI dongle is certainly getting a lot of attention for a 35-buck, one-trick pony. Announced on Wednesday and given its Reg review on Thursday, Chromecast has left one admirer "pretty blown away," was praised for its "pure simplicity" by another, called a "cord cutter's dream" by a …

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  1. Anomalous Cowturd
    Linux

    Can't be arsed to check...

    But is the bootloader locked on this thing? Could make a nice little XBMC stick.

    I'll stick to my Raspberry Pis for now.

    1. Zola
      Go

      Re: Can't be arsed to check...

      But is the bootloader locked on this thing? Could make a nice little XBMC stick.

      The DE3005 is, as best I can determine, from the Armada 1000 series which is based on the Sheva PJ1 ARMv5/ARM9 core, which is the architecture that pre-dates the ARMv6/ARM11 SoC used by the Raspberry Pi.

      There's very little info available about the DE3005, suggesting it might be a custom SoC. The DE3010 is a dual-core 1GHz+ SoC, so my guess is that the DE3005 could even be a single core design. According to Anandtech the 1GHz+ Sheva PJ1 is comparable with the later ARM11 design in terms of power characteristics.

      Since XBMC runs on the ARM11 based Raspberry Pi, I guess it might be possible to get it running on the Chromecast, particularly if is a dual-core device, and it's running standard Android as the OS.

      But it's probably easier and cheaper to just buy a Raspberry Pi...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can't be arsed to check...

        It is a cut down Armada 1500, same as the Google TV 2.0 platform but cut in half, but with a single core. It isn't worth comparing it to the old Sheva plug, they are very different beasts, this thing runs off 500mA even with the radio.

      2. Anomalous Cowturd
        Pint

        @Zola.

        Thank you!

        Drinky poos?

      3. UnauthorisedAccess
        Thumb Up

        Re: Can't be arsed to check...

        > But it's probably easier and cheaper to just buy a Raspberry Pi

        ...and that's exactly what I'm doing (well, I already have my Rpi). It's amazing that they both share the $35 price point. Yes, you need to buy a few more items to get the Raspberry Pi running (HDMI cable, SD card, USB wifi stick) but it's much more flexible.

    2. MrCreasy
      Thumb Up

      Re: Can't be arsed to check...

      Can't be arsed to checkeither, but I agree would make a lovely XBMC stick. 16GB seems like enough to do something useful. I'd certainly buy one if there was something like FireCore to flash it, (I have a flashed AppleTV2 and it's unbeatable for streaming vids off the NAS) but I haven't seen enough yet to know if that would be feasible. I'll be

      watching closely.

      1. Lusty

        Re: Can't be arsed to check...

        "16GB seems like enough to do something useful."

        It does. Shame this only has 2GB, or 16Gb as the article put it.

  2. bigtimehustler

    Sorry, but the point of this is a cheap way to replicate whats on a device to a TV screen. Comparing it to your own purchase which does more for a different price is irrelevant just as much as telling us that you modified your own purchase to do X Y Z. Basically your not the target market of this product, For a product to be successful it does not require the tech industries writers or lovers to appreciate it.

    It HAS TO DO ONE THING WELL.

    Thats the fact, if it does everything OK then its missed every market, better to stake your claim in any market well than them all in mediocrity!

    1. Chris 244
      FAIL

      You missed the point

      "Sorry, but the point of this is a cheap way to replicate whats on a device to a TV screen.". Except that it doesn't. Can't, in fact. It streams Google and Netflix content to your TV via the Internet. Period.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You missed the point

        >Can't, in fact. It streams Google and Netflix content to your TV via the Internet. Period.

        .....it can sling absolutely any content or service you want which is viewable in a web browser - including local video etc.

        ....even if Googlecast uptake is poor (which it won't be of course) this is a very useful little device..

        1. Mage Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: You missed the point

          It's pointless. It's a Google controlled Wireless HDMI spyware cable as it ENTIRELY relies on Google SW running on a gadget which can often use an HDMI cable.

          Pluses:

          No cable

          No Content only on screen

          Cheaper than Wireless HDMI.

          Allows Gadgets with no HDMI to feed TV

          Minus:

          Google might be "spying" on what you access.

          Needs a Gadget (Phone, Tablet, Laptop) etc able to view the content.

          More limited than an HDMI cable to Laptop.

          What is maximum reliable data rate of video streamed?

          1. Martin 71 Silver badge

            Re: You missed the point

            You got the 'no cable' in the wrong column. And devices with no HDMI have been feeding signals to tvs since the 1920s

        2. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: You missed the point

          it can sling absolutely any content […] including local video etc.

          Citation needed, because from what I've read, this is explicitly the one thing it does not do.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You missed the point

            Need to read more. To stream local video all that needs to be done is drag and drop the video to your chrome web browser then send it to the chrome cast device.

    2. SirWired 1
      Happy

      No; that's not the point of the device; it's actually more useful (once there are more apps.) The primary purpose is not to put your Chrome content on the screen; the main use is for your web browser (or phone) to send a signal to the dongle instructing it to retrieve the requested content directly. This requires a lot less stress on your home bandwidth, as it doesn't have to be streamed to your laptop/tablet, then re-streamed to this box.

    3. Timmay
      Flame

      So can it play Crysis?

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge
        Boffin

        It can play the webcast of you playing crisis.

        so if you have a fast enough PC to transcode your display to stream on a web browser then sure, yes it will let you "play" crysis on your TV.

  3. MrCreasy

    Custom stick

    Can't be arsed to check either, but I agree would make a lovely XBMC stick. 16GB seems like enough to do something useful. I'd certainly buy one if there was something like FireCore to flash it, (I have a flashed AppleTV2 and it's unbeatable for streaming vids off the NAS) but I haven't seen enough yet to know if that would be feasible. I'll be watching closely.

    1. Chris 244
      Facepalm

      So sorry but please RTFA

      16 Gb. Somewhat less useful than 16 GB.

      1. Mad Hacker
        Thumb Up

        Re: So sorry but please RTFA

        Chris 244 is right. It's 16 Gb AKA 2 GB.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: So sorry but please RTFA

          rasp pi are certainly not useless as an XBMC! I use one on my "other" TV. It is perfect for internet radio, sportsdevil, iplayer, youtube and 720 streaming (wont do 1080 well enough). I use an old gw620 as the remote control. for my main TV I use a more dedicated xbmc box

    2. Matt_payne666

      Re: Custom stick

      It would be useless as an XBMC device... much like Raspberry Pi's and Apple TV's

      Try pushing a decent HD film with a decent HD soundtrack and welcome to buffer city... (and castrated audio....) - and yes I have tried on both platforms! - all my blu-rays are backed up full size - just wished XBMC handled proper 3D iso's

      As to the Chromecast... my opinion... cool & I want one, but on reading on its capabilities... not too sure... a cheap android stick looks more flexible for a similar price

  4. Paul 135
    Big Brother

    More proprietary protocols instead of open standards!

    1. The obvious
      Holmes

      re: proprietary protocols

      We expected something different from the makers of the next IE4?

    2. Craigness

      It has a proprietory SDK of course, but the protocol is open.

      http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6455

  5. J__M__M

    Ahhh, HD and Wi-Fi...

    go together like chips and dip.

  6. JaitcH
    Thumb Up

    This Google design and implementation simply highlights ...

    the childishness in Apple's feeble attempts to frustrate people in opening their property.

    No 'unique' screws here!

    Nice, clean, design with no compromises like piggy-backing components. Curious why the 'circular' edge is actually a series of flats rather than a continuously rounded profile.

    1. Matt_payne666

      Re: This Google design and implementation simply highlights ...

      cheaper to produce flat cutters than curved when cutting out the PCB's?? its a hidden piece so aesthetics aren't a priority?

      1. JaitcH
        Meh

        Re: This Google design and implementation simply highlights ...

        With today's technology producing smooth, rounded edges is as easy as a straight. I have PCB's made by the thousand and it's OK for those quantities.

    2. Mad Hacker
      Paris Hilton

      Re: This Google design and implementation simply highlights ...

      What? This is equivalent in hardware (not capabilities) to Apple's Lightning to HDMI cable which also snaps apart and doesn't have proprietary screws. Of course, neither has anything you could replace or upgrade so who cares how take-apart-able it is?

      As for flat edges, I would think someone so well versed in industrial design to be able to fault Apple's designs and who is familiar with Pentalobe vs Torx vs Phillips screw types would know that cutting a straight edge is much easier (i.e. cheaper) then cutting a rounded edge.

      Paris, because she's just as confused as you.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People still watch TV?

    Really?

    1. Craigness

      Re: People still watch TV?

      Chromecast is not about TV, it's just content and a screen. Even when broadcasts cease I expect "TV" will still hang around as the name for a big screen in a living room.

    2. BlinkenLights
      Facepalm

      Re: People still watch TV?

      A TV is an output device for displaying moving images. As long as there is content to show on such a device then people will still watch them.

  8. h3

    I would prefer it if it could use the already existing wired connection to my TV.

    Prefer it if it didn't involve a web browser though. (Think Windows Network Projector or just another X display - hardware is good enough to support it).

  9. Turtle

    Competition.

    I could see something like this being very popular. I wonder how difficult it would be for other companies to market similar competing products.

  10. Martijn Otto

    Can it run linux?

    Can it run a full linux distribution? Then it suddenly becomes a sound buy!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can it run linux?

      "Can it run a full linux distribution? Then it suddenly becomes a sound buy!"

      Yes please - we all want 1,000+ security vulnerabilities in our media player...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can it run linux?

        "Yes please - we all want 1,000+ security vulnerabilities in our media player..." True, better than a few million on other platforms.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Totally misses the point - yes you can stream from your Android device from a browser but it's not stand-alone so I can't get it to just play a film without leaving my phone / tablet in range. Apple TV is a much more polished and complete product and Android users will feel like poor cousins in comparison.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Apple TV is a much more polished and complete product and Android users will feel like poor cousins in comparison."

      You can crawl out your ass now, it's 2013! Apple TV was just a nightmareish folly.

  12. Colin Miller

    vga

    Is that a VGA header above the SDRAM chip?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: vga

      17 pads, so probably not. More likely test points for production QA

  13. Tommy Gilchrist

    Simplistic?

    Let's see you grab a soldering iron and make one ;-)

  14. HK Craig

    BBC iPlayer support

    Would this little device play nicely and stream BBC iPlayer on my telly?

  15. kylegordon

    And it looks like it's been rooted already. A functioning UART exists on those test pads, and further work has been done here http://gtvhacker.com/index.php/Google_Chromecast

  16. Dick Pountain

    Score so far: Apple trolls 17; Rasberry trolls 13; Google trolls 16; anti-Google trolls 9; common sense 0.89

    1. The First Dave Silver badge
      Boffin

      Well, it started with the article itself, for example the footnote - a heatsink can work perfectly well in a sealed enclosure, it is a _radiator_ that will have problems.

    2. James Hughes 1

      Actually, its

      Score so far: Apple trolls 17; Rasberry trolls 13; Google trolls 16; anti-Google trolls 9; common sense 0.89, Dick Pountain's being stupid : 1

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Score so far: Apple trolls 17; Rasberry trolls 13; Google trolls 16; anti-Google trolls 9; common sense 0.89"

      Smart arses too many to count.

  17. ForthIsNotDead

    FFS...

    The way IT media is banging on about this device you'd think Google invented the bloody concept. They're WAY late to the party. These things have been around for ages.

    See http://www.rikomagic.co.uk/ (I'm not affiliated to them in any way - just getting pissed off with all this Google worship).

  18. Richard Ball

    Heat-sinks

    Heat-sinks do function in enclosed boxes.

    The role of a heat-sink is to (1) spread the heat from the small heat-generating devices over a larger area, in order that those devices and the things near them don't cook. And to (2) encourage that heat to go away somewhere and not build up to a damaging temperature.

    It's nice if the heat all transfers straight into air that then flows out of the box through vents, not warming up the surface of the box itself, but that never happens. In many cases the surface of the plastic box gets pretty warm, very little air circulates through the vents and most of the heat generated is transferred out of the box due to conduction through the plastic skin of the box. In the case of e.g. a laptop PSU, all the heat goes through the plastic skin and none goes out through vents. But it still makes effective use of heat-sinking.

    In the case of this google thing the metal can is there for two reasons: EM shielding, and also to spread the heat generated by the chips within the can over the entire area of the dongle. Chances are the SoC gets hotter than anything else in there, and without the can it would make a hot-spot on the plastic surface. In segregating the convection into an 'inside-the-can' loop and an 'outside the can' loop, the can might reduce the overall cooling effectiveness and probably result in slightly hotter chippery overall. But by spreading the heat over the dongle's entire area it will minimise the existence of hot-spots on the outer skin that seek to set fire to your curtains and of cold-spots on the outer skin that aren't pulling their weight in the tast of getting rid of all the waste heat.

    But still: heat-sinks in closed boxes do work.

    1. Justin Stringfellow
      Unhappy

      Re: Heat-sinks

      > But still: heat-sinks in closed boxes do work.

      it's hard to tell the difference between a heat sink in a sealed enclosure and a heating element inside a closed oven, though, isn't it?

      1. Richard Ball

        Re: Heat-sinks

        They both heat up their environs and (ignoring the oven's thermostat) reach an equilibrium internal temperature due to heat transfer.

        Only one of them has a space inside big enough for a chicken though - that's the giveaway.

  19. hungee

    Sigh - everyone misses the point.. again.

    I have mk809 IIs and all sorts of other hpc goodies/ streaming solutions.

    The problem with these streaming solutions is not the hardware. It is the streaming protocols.

    Airplay has its good points... but it also is a massive bandwidth hog (like Bonjour it has massive overheads). It also is incapable of multiple stream audio. (for whole home audio/video solutions) and is really temperamental because it is supposed to "just work" so when it doesn't work there are no methods to configure settings. Also if you want to stream to multiple players you have to use a MAC PC or WIN/LINUX PC for broadcasting and it is not intelligent in how it broadcasts leading to variable latencies and also band width issues. Also it is a closed system so the only players that can broadcast airplay are apple softwares/ embedded solutions in apple products.

    DLNA is pretty cool too. Much more open, and it uses less bandwidth but forget ever trying to multi-cast and it also tends to be less reliable. The most unforgivable thing it does though is broadcast in mp3 format audio.

    Miracast is cool but requires specific hardware which is frustrating and never going to be ubiquitous.

    The Problem?

    (network) Wifi induced latency.

    The solution?

    Someone smarter than me working on it.

    get to it.

    At least this solution from google sort of fixes one thing. casting from a tablet. Problem is... it still kind of doesn't. I don't understand why they can't just set up a proper screen mirroring service... I guess it must be wifi... Wifi tends to be the issue.

    ;)

  20. ElectricRook

    nothing is absolute

    The heat sink will work because it increases the surface area of the hot chip. The plastic case is merely an inhibitor of heat flow, not an absolute heat shield. By spreading the heat out over a large area the plastic becomes a better conductor of heat. The plastics used in electronics is selected for it's heat conducting properties.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You're all missing Smart TVs

    I don't get the point at tall, any gadget lover surely has a Smart TV already, thus rendering this device redundant.

    ((Score so far: Apple trolls 17; Rasberry trolls 13; Google trolls 16; anti-Google trolls 9; Smart TV trolls 1; common sense 0.88, Dick Pountain's being stupid : 1))

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all fluff compared to a fully featured PC on your telly.

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