back to article Typical! Google's wonder-dongle is a solution looking for a problem

From the reaction to Google's latest contribution to TV technology, you'd think the Chromecast dongle was as revolutionary as a new method of nuclear fusion. While the wee $35 USB stick is more practical than the last Google TV gadget - and hopefully less catastrophic to Google's supply chain partners - it's a typically …

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  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Google falls foul of most modern businesses big error.

    Forgetting the internet exists!

    The internet really is such a game-changer that even Google misses the point sometimes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google falls foul of most modern businesses big error.

      There's quite a few devices that get your phone display onto the TV. They're all £90-100. This one is at least a useful price, although what's the betting that $30 is about £40 here.

      1. Homer 1

        Re: Google falls foul of most modern businesses big error.

        "There's quite a few devices that get your phone display onto the TV."

        Yes, it's called an MHL cable. I got mine for a fiver.

        So what do I need Google's gizmo for?

        1. Bob H
          Boffin

          Re: Google falls foul of most modern businesses big error.

          I think MHL is interesting but it still has something of a dependency on human interaction which might be awkward, if the TV supports CEC remote pass through correctly then your remote might work to control your phone, but how many apps work with that logic?

          The Chrome stick is cheap enough that it is fit + forget, I could buy one (if they were sold in the UK!) and know that whenever I want I can send content from my phone or laptop to the TV.

          I don't think it is a game changer, but I do think it is a low cost way of showing the way forward to the market. It addresses the millions of non-connected/smart HD TVs there are in the world. It is a simple proposition but also it might boost Google's sales on their Play Store. People are more inclined to pay for content on screens of 7in or larger (inc TVs) than on phones, this device bridges the gap between phone store and TV.

          I wish them luck, it certainly isn't a folly.

    2. oolor

      Re: Google falls foul of most modern businesses big error.

      Tom, I assume this is the finest irony and fit of an upvote.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    +1

    I was wondering what all the furore was about. If you've got a game console or smart TV you can get most OTT providers, YouTube, and local content.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: +1

      Yeah I give this article a +1 as well. It's a well reasoned piece of work. Doesn't matter if you agree with the cnclusion, we need less bullshit and more of this.

    2. Mark .

      Re: +1

      I don't have a games console. I don't have a smart TV in the bedroom. I do have a smart TV in the living room, though it'd still be much easier to transfer a Youtube video from my laptop to the screen, rather than have to renavigate to it through the TV (similarly for things like Google Music - it does work through the TV's browser, but it's much quicker to access it through a laptop or indeed my phone). The smart TV will remain great for playing local videos via DLNA, but it doesn't do everything that it seems Chromecast will.

      So that's a mere 2 potential devices that I'll be buying then, despite having a smart TV already. I also have a PC plugged into the TV - yes, I can VNC into it and control it from the laptop, but clicking a button would still be much easier, not to mention that for most people this is not something they've got set up at all.

  3. Tim Parker

    "From the reaction to Google's latest contribution to TV technology, you'd think the Chromecast dongle was as revolutionary as a new method of nuclear fusion."

    Really ? Most of the reactions i've seen have been along the lines of either "Meh" or "Will it run XBMC ?" - perhaps i've been looking at tech pages rather than tabloids to get information about technology news... dunno.

    "British telly broadcaster BSkyB touts an even cheaper TV dongle (£9.99, $15), but it received a fraction of the coverage even though it may have a greater impact on its intended market. Why?"

    I don't know - perhaps the media didn't write about it, did you or El Reg ?... I certainly can't find anything here. As for cheapness, the thing about the Sky dongle is that the "intended market" need to have a NowTV account - it's quite nice IMO, especially on the £ 15 for 6 months deal they had a while back, but it's a regular outgoing - so hardly comparable on CapEx (which is what you did).

    They've both got their place, it's just that their revenue streams are different. Personally, i'll probably not get either, although i'm tempted by the Google one just to play with... not something you can do with the Sky dongle currently as far as I can see from the information on NowTV. Even though I have a (temporary) NowTV account it probably won't be worth an extra £15 per month on top of my cable subscription to just get Movies, for me, when that subscription runs out... and i'm not certain whether it's even worth a tenner to just have a small box attached to the telly rather than my laptop or Pi now.

    1. Tim Parker

      "the thing about the Sky dongle is that the "intended market" need to have a NowTV account "

      Update on this - apparently you only need to have an account, which does not need to have an active subscription, to access the free on-demand services. That said, they are doing another '6 months for £ 15' offer here (NowTV link) which is well worth a punt if you don't already have Sky movies. Quality is not bad at all, even if not full HD - i've had no issues with streaming (buffering etc) on a VirginMedia 20Mb link.

      You can also side-load applications from the Roku channels in dev, in particular Plex - which turns this into a 720p network media streamer for a tenner.

  4. Annihilator

    Give away

    Sky are also giving away what looks like an equivalent product.

    http://www.sky.com/thankyou

    Though quite why they can't just get their Sky boxes to receive net content anyway?

    1. h3

      Re: Give away

      The Sky product is a Roku of some sort with another firmware. If there is a way to put it back to the Roku firmware or sideload Netflix etc then you save £40.

      Much more likely in the short term than it will run XBMC well.

  5. Chronos Silver badge

    Analogy overload

    As usual, Orlowski cuts through the bull and hype and tells it like it is. It's akin to releasing a bestseller with blank pages for you to fill in yourself.

    Let's be honest, though, the TV we already have is dull, dreary, repetitive, shallow, judgmental propaganda aimed at the lowest common denominator. Can you really see savvy people paying for more of it? Christ, I might be tempted to give 'em a fiver if they make the existing stuff go away for a couple of hours a day.

    Of course, they will get their payoff anyway. What's in it for Google? The same currency you pay them with now: They get valuable data on your interests. The hype just makes it easier for them.

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Analogy overload

      "Christ, I might be tempted to give 'em a fiver if they make the existing stuff go away for a couple of hours a day."

      Give me a fiver and I'll tell you how to make it go away.

      (Hint: it's called a power button. DAMN! I'll never get my fiver now!)

      1. Chronos Silver badge

        Re: Analogy overload

        Give me a fiver and I'll tell you how to make it go away.

        (Hint: it's called a power button. DAMN! I'll never get my fiver now!)

        You're not married, are you? Thought not.

        1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

          Re: Analogy overload

          "You're not married, are you?"

          No, not until February.

          As to your point: Yes, she does watch a bucket load of manure. I, however, always have the option of leaving the room. I'll go read a book, do some work on my bike, or even use a TV in another room.

          OK, I do put up with watching some TV I would rather not with her, but she does the same, so I can't really complain.

    2. Ian 55
      Coat

      Re: Analogy overload

      To be fair, books of blank pages for you to write your own bestseller - or just the shopping list - do outsell any printed book you care to mention.

  6. Efros

    I bought the Chromecast, it arrived yesterday in the mail. For $35 it is very good at what it does, which TBH is not an awful lot, but it is good at it! It is a piece of hardware screaming for someone to write a couple of decent apps for, local media streaming would be a start.

  7. EddieD

    I'm confused...

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/27/why_chromecast_is_important/

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/30/google_chromecast_fail/

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: I'm confused...

      The Reg is a broad church. It is possible for two writers to have different opinions: we're not going to hammer through a simplified narrative for the sake of convenience.

      C.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: I'm confused...

        Unless it's about climate change or Nokia, eh?

      2. Slap

        Re: I'm confused...

        Exactly - the articles written here, often with tongue in cheek, don't tell me what to think, but give me the information to allow me to think for myself, and I will always welcome two different viewpoints.

        That's why I've been reading El Reg for over ten years now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm confused...

      Me too, but not about the difference of opinions.

      Why, oh why all the downvotes for comments that say they're not impressed? Are we not allowed to be unimpressed by Google?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are we not allowed to be unimpressed by Google?

        Are you new around here?

  8. Jess

    It is simply a remote controlled chrome browser window, isn't it?

    Which means if you can create a webpage that chrome displays to play your media, and and app that tells the device to go to that page, you are sorted.

    Presumably you could have a simple tablet, like a Nook simple, and use that as the control and have a browser on screen. Not sure what it makes of links though.

    Definitely is interesting. (But a shame about the official OS support)

  9. WylieCoyoteUK

    ubiquity

    The targets here are airplay and miracast.

    Chromecast will work across platforms, and leave your device free to use.

    PC under the TV? That's so twentieth century.

    Mobile devices and the cloud combined are where the future lies.

    1. Martin 71 Silver badge

      Re: ubiquity

      I fear you are correct. I for one will still stick with a pc under the tv though. Or rather under the dirty great 19" CRT monitor!

      Disclaimer: I do not pay the electric bill. If I did... yeah, it would change :)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Selective pricing quotes?

    Watch the Ashes on the Sky dongle? For £9.99? No.

    Dongle... £9.99, 3 month subscription £8.99 p/m, then another £15 if you want the £8.99 offer (small print at the bottom). Then add a Sky Sports day pass at £9.99 PER DAY! 5 days test match.. £49.95. 5 test matches and that's £249.75 just for Sports.

    Total... £307.71

    Not saying Chromecast is a wonder product, although I may have a use for it, depending on apps developed for it, but to trumpet the Sky dongle as a cheap alternative way to watch the Ashes is a joke.

    1. countd
      Headmaster

      Re: Selective pricing quotes?

      Actually the easiest way to watch the Ashes is get a cheap ($10) VPN, tunnel into mainland Europe and get the legit streams that ecbcricket is making available to users on the continent via YouTube.

    2. xyz
      Happy

      Re: Selective pricing quotes?

      Just do what everyone else does and find a stream on the net. I watched the last F1 race streamed from someplace in HD with a Spanish comentary and as I'm learning Spanish I killed 2 birds with one stone (not paying and fun learning). The internet is lovely.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Selective pricing quotes?

      The point is Google don't have the Ashes at any price, they have cat videos, and if Google did have the Ashes they wouldn't offer it for just $35 anyway. Chromecast doesn't offer you any content that you couldn't get anyway with other providers, traditional or OTT (via mainstream hardware like game consoles or smart TVs and their OTT app).

      Maybe Chromecast's SDK will be used by everyone and fantastic ecosystem will come about, but that still doesn't give it any advantage over anything else that's out their at the moment - OTT content is already sorted out because you pay them money and they make sure you can get to see it and hackable stuff is already catered for by XBMC.

      If they had some exclusive YouTube content when running via Chromecast then that would be a selling point, but they don't.

      1. Mark .

        Re: Selective pricing quotes?

        The point is that they're not comparable.

        The Sky thing will be great for many people, but it seems to be locked to Sky content, and you have to pay the Sky subscription fee. If that counts as being like Chromecast, then why not mention a bog standard Sky or Virgin Media TV box? Hey, I can watch iplayer on my TV already, it turns my TV into a smart TV, and it's completely free! (Not including the monthly fee I pay to Virgin Media.) Can the Sky dongle give you a standard web-browser, do playing of local content, or mirror another laptop's display, or stream from any web address sent by another device?

        Chromecast works with anything. For Youtube alone, the price would be worth it for many, but last time I looked, there were plenty of Internet TV services you can subscribe to. Yes, that costs too, but you've got the freedom to go to who you want, rather than being locked into Sky or Virgin Media.

        I don't want exclusive content - I don't want content to be exclusive.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Selective pricing quotes?

          Most people who want to see YouTube content on their TV already can. The same goes for Internet TV services too, otherwise they'd be dead in the water. Chromecast still doesn't have the content that Sky and Virgin do, nor will it. Yet it doesn't have its own content either.

          Am I being really dense here, but what's so great about Chromecast? It only lets you view content you can view with other hardware anyway. Well, some of it, you have to jump through hoops for local content and there's no NAS/SMB/DLNA streaming. Oh, and everyone in the house needs an iOS or Android phone unless they want to fish the computer out.

          If you read the help you'll find that Chromecast has the same problems as AirPlay Mirroring when using a "non-optimised app" (computer must remain on, two times the bandwith required on the local network) and one of its own (Silverlight and QuickTime aren't supported). An "optimised app" means basically NetFlix, Google Play, or YouTube.

          I'm sure there will be more "optimised apps" soon, but if an "optimised app" for Internet TV service comes out for Chromecast you can be sure it's already come out or it will come out for games consoles or smart TVs, it'll be commercial their suicide otherwise. Yet it doesn't bring anything of its own and it's fiddly to use.

      2. Graham Cobb
        Unhappy

        Re: Selective pricing quotes?

        The point is Google don't have the Ashes at any price, they have cat videos

        I am no fan of the Google device (just how much info will Google be collecting about me?) but I will point out that although they may not have the Ashes, they certainly have a lot of content I am interested in. For example they have the America's Cup, and the Extreme Sailing Series. At the moment I have to download those using get_flash_videos so that I can play them on my TV streamer -- direct YouTube access (at a low price) is a major selling point.

        mainstream hardware like game consoles or smart TVs

        Games consoles are mainstream hardware? I think not -- gaming is a limited market. I suspect that this device (with Google's name attached and its cheap price) will outsell any games console once it is available. Smart TV's are more mainstream but are expensive (and bring a big concern over whether the software can/will be upgraded over their full lifetime).

        It is just a shame it is Google doing it, with their hidden price of tracking everything you do. I would rather pay double for the same features without the tracking.

    4. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Selective pricing quotes?

      On the other hand, there is no way to watch the Ashes using Chromecast, so the cost is irrelevant, or only to be compared against the 'standard' way of getting Sky Sports. It's still a little pricey; if you want to watch every second of every Test, get a Sky box, if you want to just watch the final afternoon of each Test, get a dongle.

      This is what this article is trying to get across, Google can be as "disruptive" as they like, unless they've got the content people want it is irrelevant. I'm not sure he's right though.

      A lot of commenters on Chromecast have been saying things like "Woohoo, now I can get Netflix without Xbox Live", so maybe they are banking on enough people giving them content. There is every chance that Sky will happily provide a chromecast interface for everything on their catch up service - they only care that you are paying, not how you are watching.

      It seems to me that chromecast offers everything that a broadcaster would want from a service - they control the user interface for selecting content, they control what items are made available to you to choose, they get all the analytics about what you are watching, and someone else is responsible for ensuring the playback quality, interface issues and so on.

      1. thesykes

        Re: Selective pricing quotes?

        "There is every chance that Sky will happily provide a chromecast interface for everything on their catch up service - they only care that you are paying, not how you are watching."

        I suggest you pop over to the Sky Go On Android forum.... you may change your mind.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: Selective pricing quotes?

          I suggest you pop over to the Sky Go On Android forum....

          Sky Go on Android suffers from the one problem that this never will - too many devices, too many configurations, too many problems. This is one device, with no UI. You push a URL to it, it consumes it. This means the interface to do so can be a simple web interface, no need for a custom app, or even for anything resembling playback.

          1. thesykes

            Re: Selective pricing quotes?

            That would be acceptable if there weren't other streaming services that do not suffer from the problems Sky have made for themselves.

            iPlayer, TVCatchup, Flixster. All work on my phone running Android 2.3, something I know Sky will never support.

            Sky made the mistake of releasing a version last year, that had the device checking removed/disabled. This was shown to work on just about anything, as was the cracked version that XDA served up.

            Sky choose to make the app not work on devices, purely because they can't be bothered to test them, and because they refuse to remove the device/OS version checking. Not 1 10" Android tablet supported. Pathetic.

            When the Nexus 7 was upgraded from 4.21 to 4.22, it took Sky weeks to allow it to run Sky Go. When they did, all they had to do was update a setting on their servers, and it worked. There was no new app release, it was done at their end.

    5. Irongut

      Re: Selective pricing quotes?

      The Sky dongle also requires contributing to Murdoch which for many would be too high a cost even if the dongle was free.

  11. M.AD

    DRM

    What I find crazy is that none of these "Smart" dongles (as far as I am aware) allow users to access their "legal" movie libraries, such as Ultraviolet or Digital Copy. If something like the Chromecast could play content from these "digital lockers" it would be a huge leap forward for both the technology and the services. Instead, both are crippled by the restrictions of DRM and forcing the average Joe to ignore the potential of these devices, and the tech savvy down the path of creating their own DRM-Free media to use with flexible media software such as XBMC or Plex. You could give these things away but without access to all of your legal media, the novelty will soon wear off.

    iPlayer is a DRM solution done right - it is restricted but open enough to be pimped onto every device going, accessible to all. Ultraviolet for example is far too locked down to be of any practical use. If the Chromecast could tap into the Play Store to stream purchased content, or even on a rental basis, it would be a winner.

    1. Craigness

      Re: DRM

      Chromecast does tap into the Play Store! You can own or rent movies (and TV in the States) and you can upload your own music collection to play via Chromecast. Being able to upload DVDs in the same way would be great (they'd use their matching service rather than upload 4Gb I hope).

    2. thesykes
      Thumb Up

      Re: DRM

      If the Chromecast could tap into the Play Store to stream purchased content, or even on a rental basis, it would be a winner.

      It does. From the Google Movies app description:

      "Send what you’re watching to your TV screen (when used with Chromecast)."

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: DRM

        But an HDMI cable works better. Most will not able able to deliver HD on WiFi. Especially if other users of the WiFi.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DRM

      "If the Chromecast could tap into the Play Store to stream purchased content, or even on a rental basis, it would be a winner."

      Can it not do that right out of the box ?

      I buy a movie on the playstore on my mobile, watch it in a chrome browser window and send the output to the chromecast for the kids to watch on TV whilst I do more important stuff like read the Reg.

      (isn't that what it's for ?)

    4. Mikel
      Go

      Re: DRM

      Chromecast supports two UltraViolet DRM technologies: Google's Widevine and Microsoft's PlayReady. So it's built in. Just needs implementation in the digital lockers.

    5. sjsmoto

      Re: DRM

      What I find crazy is that none of these "Smart" dongles (as far as I am aware) allow users to access their "legal" movie libraries, such as Ultraviolet or Digital Copy.

      Oh yes, please. Otherwise I don't download the video software to view the "free" digital version of a movie that's included with a dvd. I just rip the movie from the dvd instead.

  12. Craigness

    Dongles all round

    If everything is a dongle then the remote control is a dongle. Most are awful but Chromecast doesn't have one, so Chromecast wins.

    Why should the Premier League have to go through broadcasters to get to users? (Broadcasters are just another dongle!) With Chromecast it doesn't - it could stream direct to the consumer. So for a £20 (or so) up-front cost and a payment per game we could get all the football we want. For consumers to get the same thing via Sky, BT and whatever other rights buyers there are, what's the up-front investment, is there a subscription, what do they pay per game and what would their TV stands look like with all those boxes? A service which lets content creators cut out the middle man would give us a wider selection at a lower cost, would it not? And it would be a dongle.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Dongles all round

      "Why should the Premier League have to go through broadcasters to get to users? "

      Because folk like Sky pay them far more than they could hope to sell direct.

      Ask J.K. Rowlings about "self publishing" vs established Publisher.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Dongles all round

      Why should the Premier League have to go through broadcasters to get to users?

      Because the Premier League sold the exclusive rights to those broadcasters for £3bn?

    3. IHateWearingATie

      Re: Dongles all round

      To do this the Premier League would need to develop / lease it's own broadcast infrastructure (cameras, operators etc), and hire some presenters to give commentary etc. Possible, but not as easy as you think.

      As far as I know, the Premier League don't do their own video feeds in the way that Formula One do for example.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't see the point.

    I have a cable subscription and an internet connection. This costs me in the region of 60 quid a month.

    I can not - for the life of me - discover what Google can offer me that I don't already have.

    To make things worse : I am systematically cutting loose all manner of 'upgrade packs' on my existing cable subscription. The reason ? Channels like Discovery, History, SyFy, 13th street as well as more local channels are becoming increasingly unwatchable as 60 minute programs are interrupted 4 or 5 times for commercial breaks. Add the commercials before and after the show and that's 7. SEVEN !

    And I'm NOT paying to watch commercials.

    Maybe if I could, as some have suggested, use it as a very cheap and compact HTPC solution. But I can pretty much guarantee google will NOT be happy with people buying the cheap hardware but not buying into the expensive content.

    I believe this will be a short lived gizmo. At least, I think it will be.

  14. Paul Hayes 1

    rubbish!

    The problems this solves are very clearly defined:

    1) How do I consume Internet content on my big TV screen?

    2) How do I achieve the above without having to subject myself to the horrors that are the user interface designs of so called "Smart TVs"?

    And this device solves them both.

    The fact that there is currently very little in the way of content that'll work with it is not the same problem. It's simply because it is a brand new device and until someone brought the device out, no software companies are going to (or would even be able to) make software/content for it.

    The fact that it'll no doubt be very long before custom firmware for the device pops up which allows you to use applications not necessarily designed for it is just a bonus.

    1. Martin 71 Silver badge

      Re: rubbish!

      1 a video card with tv output?

      2 Use an older tv

    2. tony72

      Re: rubbish!

      Yes. In any case, the Raspberry Pi is a solution looking for a problem, in fact that's the whole point of it, and people don't seem to hold that against it. Google is getting the Chromecast out there at an impulse buy price to see what people do with it, and if it gains some traction, companies may well start looking to use it specifically to deliver their content.

    3. npupp 1

      Re: rubbish!

      I'd go so far as to state it has the possibility to go one solution further, I.e.

      3) How do I show what's on this piddly laptop screen to the rest of the room (granted, said stuff must be in a chrome tab), with minimum fuss.

      to make a distinction with your point 1), this needn't be consumable media, the relatively mundane internet sometimes needs escaping beyond the 15" screen. Groups of blokes drooling over DeWaalt's new powertools on screwfix (or equally a gaggle of women drooling over Jimmy Choos on zolando).

      escaping beyond chrome tabs into desktop streaming would be far more useful... one hopes this arrives at some point...

    4. Tim Jenkins

      Re: rubbish!

      Yup; it's all about easy and cheap remote-controlled internet consumption on that big, non-SMART, living room screen (i.e. whatever was £399 from Argos/Tesco at the time).

      "For those few homes without a laptop next to the TV, and there aren't many left... then yes, there's a convenience factor.".

      Really? I've NEVER been in a British family living room where a laptop was plugged into a TV, but then perhaps Andrew and I inhabit rather different social circles. Sky / Freeview box and DVD or VCR (remember those?), certainly, XBox/PS3/Wii probaby (though often relegated upstairs), BluRay or PVR possibly, but never a laptop. Even now many typical cheap lappies don't do HDMI-out, or don't have the welly to drive a big display if they do, and anyway, the Sky remotes don't work on them and who wants that kind of extra exercise? It's a long way from the sofa...

      At least the GoogleDongle (tm) works by talking to an app on a phone which a lot of people already own and use. I'll be tempted myself, once our lovely SCART-only CRT finally accelerates its last electron into a phosphorescent layer (try and tell the young people today that and they won't believe you).

  15. Mage Silver badge

    I can't figure ...

    It WON'T work on its own to the Internet via the WiFI.

    WiFi limits the quality. Decent HD over WiFi is not assured.

    Since you need a decent gadget with a Web Browser ANYWAY... what value is it over an HDMI cable or Wirelss HDMI (which will do real HD).

    The hypegasm has been amazing.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: I can't figure ...

      Decent HD over WiFi is not assured.

      So? I don't give a rat's ass about HD; nor do most of the people I know. Obviously that's not a representative sample, but I've yet to see any research showing that HD is considered a necessity by most TV viewers.

      I don't know why gadget-fan Reg readers insist on assuming most consumers agree with them. Most consumers aren't interested in the technically superior solution, and they definitely aren't interested in any solution that requires them to learn a bunch of new stuff. They want their entertainment quickly with as little fuss as possible. A WiFi dongle from a firm they recognize is pretty much exactly what they're looking for.

  16. Pete 2

    Going back to basics

    > Google simply doesn't have the material today that drives any significant demand

    And what is the single biggest driver? Yup, porn.

    Maybe that's what Google needs to dip it's dongle into. If they're smart they could spin it as "look: we're taking all the porn off the internet searches and only making it available through our specialised hardware (that only 18+s can buy)"

    The best part about that is that apart from satisfying all the prudes in the universe it would make all the other search engines look bad if they didn't follow suit. But without a dongle of their own, they'd be stuffed.

  17. Wanda Lust

    skroku

    That 'Sky' thing looks suspiciously like a rebadged Roku. Why would I buy one from Sky (the original Roku does Sky streaming anyway) unless I am a SkySheeple?

    Down with Rupe.

  18. Armando 123

    Hm

    "... or Premier League footie, a global phenomenon that absorbs every country in[!] the planet."

    However, for those of us who have left the caves and are not fearful of an angry sun god, we've moved on to more interesting sports, like javelin catching and watching cars rust.

    [Honestly, I've given soccer/football/Italian-injury-acting a good honest try three or four times in about as many decades, but it just doesn't work for me. If you enjoy it, fine, but I do get miffed when people act like I *must* love it.]

  19. Dr_N Silver badge

    Seriously ?

    "For those few homes without a laptop next to the TV, and there aren't many left.."

    Really?!

    I would say people using any kind of PC as a media player (myself included) are in a very small minority compared to those who own a TV + tablet/phone.

    The Sky comparison is flawed due to the massive direct-debit required to actually get anything out of the NewsCorp device.

    Chromecast may actually create a new market where people can occasionally watch a "rented" film on any HDMI-plugged TV they so choose. Without a large initial purchase or having to pay a monthly subscription.

    Let's see....

  20. David Evans

    Apples and Oranges

    I don't think the Now TV box is quite the same thing as the Chromecast so you're not really comparing like-for-like. The Sky device (which isn't "like" a ROKU, I'm pretty sure it IS a ROKU) is a locked down one-vendor streamer, whereas the Chromecast is an Airplay rival; it basically needs another switched on device to work. Apple TV is a bit of both.

    Ironically if the Now TV box actually streamed my Sky TV content from my Sky+, I'd be interested in it, but since that would screw up their multiroom business it's no surprise it doesn't do it.

  21. kevjs

    If only it did proper screen mirroring it would be perfect... No need to worry about what apps the dongle supports - as long as I can see it on my phone I can get on the TV.

    If services like iPlayer leverage ChromeCast then even better, but if they don't it's still pretty usable.

    Screen mirroring is the real killer feature that Apple TV has (IME that's what people do with that anyway - they know how to do it on there iPads and just beam it to the TV - iPlayer, LoveFilm, Sky Go etc), the others are nice to have but a bit less useful.

    1. SamBC

      AIUI, it does do mirroring of a Chrome instance - meaning you can use it to watch any content that can be played in a Chrome browser instance.

    2. Mikel

      Miracast

      Just today my SGS3 phone got an update to its "allshare play" which is samsung's branded miracast. I have two Samsung TV's that support this. The purpose of the update is probably to remind me it has this feature now that Chromecast has so much attention. Can my phone see these TV's? No.

  22. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    What I want...

    Is a multi-channel Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin PVR which can do internet and LAN streaming as well as playing DVD and BluRay. I want to be able to watch anything I want, I want it able to support any provider, any format, be zero cost and subscription free.

    And world peace.

    Meanwhile I will have to pick and choose whatever gives me the best match to what I want from a variety of suppliers who all have some limitations.

    Integrated media is a relatively new thing for society as a whole and has only recently moved from PC-based systems to Smart TV and consumer grade equipment and the suppliers are still trying to figure out what consumers actually want and how to best monetorise that for themselves.

    There's a diverse market out there with people wanting different things so arguing over which is best, the one true way forward, is much like debating which single form of transportation system there should be. It's early days and we are in that period where different things are being tried out. Some will succeed, others will fail. Eventually the sector will mature but it's good to see there is so much active competition and efforts to test the market.

    Will any manufacturer come up with a product and a licensing deal to do 'everything'? I doubt it, but we can hope.

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Stuart Halliday
      Thumb Up

      Re: Couldn't agree more with the sentiments of this article...

      IIRC it doesn't stream from phone to TV. It only tells the TV what to draw. The TV goes and fetches the content itself.

      This makes it very flexible. Especially with a Chrome PC?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Couldn't agree more with the sentiments of this article...

        No Chromecast is classed as a Digital media receiver and therefore it has to connect to Wi-Fi to obtain a stream. While it isn't responsible for the stream broadcast, it is a receiver, and therefore any Wi-Fi lag will mean interrupted viewing, unless a lot of clever caching is done, and even then it will be hit and miss IMHO.... What you're suggesting would only work if the user had a Wi-Fi enabled Smart TV and there was an existing predefined interaction between the onboard software and the HDMI input, which there isn't....

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromecast

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_media_receiver

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From what I've learned about the 'Big-G' in the past year...

    ...and MS and other tech corps approach to Privacy i.e. Spying for advertisers or governments... .... I'll be staying away from anything Big Tech has to offer for the foreseeable future....

  25. silent_count

    What WILL rule the world?

    Is something raspberry pi sized that can:

    - be used to watch netflix, huhu, etc

    - pull media of whatever network its on.

    - plug in an aerial to watch terrestrial tv.

    - wirelessly mirror the screen of your phone/tablet/PC with low-ish latency (good enough to play angry birds or write code but doesn't have to support twitch FPSers)

    - record/time-shift any of the above to a connected HDD or NAS (I'm not trying to make big content happy, I'm trying to come up with a dongle which people will actually want)

    What have I left out? I know that most (if not all) of the above can be done by a Linux/Windows PC but if someone were to pack that lot into a sub-US$100 dongle Joe Average can buy from Walmart, it eould rule the world.

  26. Irongut

    Personally I have a media centre next to the TV and consume quite a lot of video content online. But, I still intend to get a Chromecast dongle when they are available in the UK.

    Why? Well sometimes I might not want to turn on the media centre and find the mouse and remote, I'd like to see what Chromecast is like and as a developer I'm interested in checking out the SDK. My reasons are not those of a typical consumer but then the typical consumer does not have a media centre, Raspberry PI and three other computers in their living room so Chromecast could be a cheap alternative for them.

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. Herbert Meyer

    stream DVD from my computer ?

    A quick read of the sketchy documentation for this wonder leads me to believe that I can use VLC to stream to it, from my computer.

    Whatever it does now, the API and some code will allow me and my programmer buddies to do all kinds of interesting (at least to us) things. Being able to write code for it changes a lot of things.

    Just wait until Amazon gets the next batch, and we register them.

  29. scarshapedstar

    Shrug

    Just played with one for hours last night with some friends - the Google Music support is great, and viral videos are still fun.

    Deal with it.

  30. ukgnome

    Just for the record, Sky's GO is a rebranded Roku which includes Roku apps access......I don't work for Sky, but c'mon that's awesome!

    1. Tim Parker

      "Just for the record, Sky's GO is a rebranded Roku which includes Roku apps access..."

      Oooo - can you get the Plex channel and get it to stream all your local network media ? Now that would be interesting... anyone care to have a go ?

    2. Tim Parker

      Looks like Plex is available via side-loading in dev mode, so that's my box ordered :) More to come by the look of it....

      More here and elsewhere..

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    technically....

    Google do provide a lot of quality original content material.

    The problem is that it's through youtube and it's not their material - i think most of the History Channel is on there somewhere.

  32. SamBC
    FAIL

    I think this misses the point

    To my mind, what Google have done is what they've done so well in many other areas - sidestep the need to provide content by enabling world+dog to provide content for them. From what I've heard, the technical bar to providing playback capability (for a content provider) is incredibly low.

    This is what Google do (mostly) - produce a platform, and take advantage of people using it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I think this misses the point

      It's too early to say whether this is success or failure. The time for that will be in 6 months. If there are apps all over with Chromecast support, and those apps are useful... iPlayer, TVCatchup, Flixster, Pandora, Spotify, video players, picture galleries etc, then it can be regarded as a success. If there are no apps and total dev apathy, call it a failure.

      At the price, there's certainly not much in the way of a high cost barrier to devs wanting to add support to their apps.

  33. Mikel

    ElReg must bash everything

    If $35 to try something new and potentially useful is going to ruin your life then this is not the thing for you.

  34. grandours
    Thumb Up

    Useful in Canada

    This will be very handy for me to access Hulu on my TV, which I can currently do on my laptop/desktop, but not on any tablet or on my TVs hooked up to a PS3 and Apple TV due to licensing restrictions. (It's technically possible to work around this with a US credit card and US mailing address, but I can't be bothered setting this up.) My laptops don't have HDMI out, so for $35, this is a bargain. I agree that in some markets this won't be overly useful.

  35. Stuart Halliday
    WTF?

    Eh? Surely the author can see the possibilities with this dongle?

    I can shared my photos/videos/bookmarks with others on a TV.

    I could walk into a Mall and open up Google maps on the public TV so the two of us can plan a journey or info on a shop/event. The TV becomes a shared device. I bet this'll make more large TV's become touch sensitive to allow it to be a convenient interface for me.

    Also I'll be able to access free material from anywhere in the world Nuff said. :)

  36. handle

    A solution looking for a problem

    "it's a typically Silicon Valley way of going about things: a solution looking for a problem."

    What - you mean like the iPad?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: A solution looking for a problem

      In truth, if there weren't "solutions looking for problems" thrown on the market on a daily basis, we would still be hunting wooly mammoth.

      Well, "Collateral Debt Obligations" sold to retarded state organizations excepted, I guess.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    H2G2-42?

    Is there a joke that I'm supposed to get?

  38. csumpi

    "solutionism"

    you mean products like the ipad?

  39. Jim84

    Why own two devices?

    I think Chromecast has a more basic problem as well for a lot of people. As a console owning gamer I will always have a console in my living room. This throws up videos onto my TV nicely, in addition to playing games. So I have no interest in Chromecast, even if it is free.

    It's like digital cameras and mobile phones. Every mobile now has a camera in it, so I won't bother to own and carry a separate digital camera.

    Chromecast does do one new thing, it lets you stream video from your mobile to the TV more easily than current solutions, but I don't store that much video on my phone. It sits on my laptops hardrive.

    The Reg is spot on in predicting that this will be another flop. I don't know why Google, Microsoft etc don't hire you guys as consultants to give the thumbs up or down on their proposed new devices/services?

    1. Mikel
      WTF?

      Re: Why own two devices?

      Predicting a flop of a new consumer electronics product that in its first version sold out the entire supply in the whole US, and all of the next month's production capacity as well in only a few hours is pretty bold. Especially when it only costs $35.

      You can buy the thing right now on Amazon.com for over twice the list price, on eBay for thrice from resellers who bought retail, or wait the 3-4 weeks in the Play store because not one retail outlet in America still has them in stock. There are tales of a BestBuy location that lost ONE and couldn't clear it from their inventory database - they were inundated with calls because the website said they still had it. This is Apple levels of freakout product launch, lacking only people waiting on line in the rain.

      Marvell, the maker of the chip, is bragging the design win now and offering the solution to third parties. A flood of similars is predicted.

      I got two - and both with the Netflix deal. They are amazing now, and I can't wait to see what they'll become. Will be buying more for me and as gifts. Somewhere in Asia is a factory ramping up. I hope Google sent somebody out there to make sure the employees aren't suffering during the crush. As small and integrated as the thing is though, it's hard to imagine a lot of manual labor being involved. It's a question whether enough can be made to satisfy demand.

      Success though? Made n units, sold n units the first couple days. Didn't even have time to deploy advertising and the related costs. Hard to call that a flop.

  40. Stefing

    Oh really?

    I have my tower plugged into my big TV and 5.1 system - most people don't.

    Most people, when they want to watch something from an MKV or MP4 file, or from YouTube, are stuck squinting over a laptop.

    This is THE SOLUTION for that.

  41. Stefing

    Review FAIL - Also!

    You're in a hotel, you've got your Android device and free wifi - but you'd like to watch something from your Netflix subscription on the TV in the room without paying the hotel's inflated fees - SOLUTION!

  42. BigGdog

    missing the point

    I think this article misses the point of Chromecast completely. Google doesn't need to own the TV industry, it doesn't care if your watching netflix or vimeo as long as your sending it to your chromecast so it can keep track of what your watching and target you ever more accurate ads.

    Yes sky has released a dongle already but the fact that noone has heard of it proves they don't have the ideas or ability to get a a mainstream platform going.

    I'm sure a lot of people have smart tv's which run youtube fine but how long before the next biggest thing comes along that doesn't support your 3 year old samsung telly? I would much keep my tv as dumb as possible and opt for a detached platform that gives me the best ongoing developer support.

    For the record i don't have a chromecast, i use raspmbc which works fine from my android phone (via airplay i think) but the minute i think there's an app which would stream better to chromecast than it does to xmbc, i would seriously consider buying one.

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