Google Chromecast may bridge the handheld-to-TV gap

A few weeks ago, Google launched its latest home entertainment service, Chromecast, in the U.S. With this USB-sized gadget, users can enjoy their favourite online entertainment—movies, TV shows, music, Netflix, YouTube, Google Play and the Chrome web browser—on their HDTVs.

The Chromecast device plugs into a TV’s HDMI port and lets users wirelessly stream digital content they can access on their smartphones, notebooks and tablets to their big screens. However, to minimize confusion, it’s important to understand that Chromecast doesn’t beam content from, say, a phone to a TV; instead, it makes the handheld device function as a remote control, and the streaming content is received directly by the Chromecast device. Once set up, Chromecast becomes a natural extension of all of the devices in the house. When watching something on any device, users may instantly “cast” it over to the TV.

The service can stream videos and content directly over the Internet from a service like Netflix or a computer browser. Streaming video from Netflix has proven most convenient. Unfortunately, only YouTube, Netflix and Google Play currently support the direct-streaming method (with Pandora support supposedly arriving soon). However, it’s not unreasonable to believe that more companies will develop Chromecast compatibility in the future.

Google’s new device may not sound too groundbreaking, but given that it only costs $35 USD, it could easily become something bigger. By setting a low price on the Chromecast, Google is signalling that it’s not looking to make tons of money on the device. Instead, it wants ubiquity, which will improve Chromecast. Given that the device is economically priced, it’s projected to sell well. If that happens, media companies could start supporting the service to a point where Chromecast may eventually be pre-installed in future TVs.

However, that’s just a hypothesis, and the device already has rival products like Apple TV, which can do a lot more than the Chromecast can (that’s a whole other story) , but things do look promising for Google. Google cancelled a three-month Netflix promotion after an initial rush on the new product presumably made it untenable.

Overall, Chromecast is Google’s enhanced and more convenient living-room product following its previous, failed Google TV project—it’s also made to compete with Apple’s Airplay service. For only $35, our U.S. neighbours can do almost everything you’ve ever wanted to do with your mobile devices on your TV. No word yet on a Canadian launch.

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