The dust has settled. The fan fare has subsided. The ticker tape has been cleaned off the streets. The reviews are in. Chromecast has (sort of) settled into its spot on the couch amongst the other streaming devices in the market.
When it was first released, everything I saw about it left me filled with a bunch of “but, what about?” questions. Sadly it seemed I couldn’t get any concrete answers to those questions, so my only logical choice for answers was to get one for myself. Off to Amazing Prime I went to order one!
But alas, none available until August 15, 2013. That’s OK… I can wait. Then came a couple of interesting emails from Amazon –
We have no estimated delivery date
followed a few days later by
We now have an estimated delivery date of October 19th thru the 29th
Oh well. No big deal. I mentioned this on Google Plus, and a fellow Geek by the name of Tim Martin came to the rescue. Seems Tim purchased about 4 of them, using at least 2 to integrate at the office, and had one extra. Awesome – just give him the one from Amazon whenever it comes in. A quick H.I.R.L. (that’s Google Plus talk for Hangout In Real Life for those of you who don’t do Plus) with Tim to pick it up, and to talk all things Geek, then back home I went to see what this little powerhouse can do!
OK. Into the HDMI port, download the app, add to my network. Simple – in about 3 minutes flat the Chromecast was ready to go. But ready to go do what? Well, there in lies the disappointment in my opinion. Fact is, as of yet, it only does 2 things that can’t be done on any other streaming device. And one of those two things isn’t really extraordinary.
The Netflix app is simply that. No real surprises there. Unless you are of the relatively small percentage of the population who’ve yet to experience Netflix, it is exactly what’s to be expected.
The two things that are unique to Chromecast are Play Movies/TV and desktop casting. Yes it’s cool that Google even has Play Movies/TV, but for me it begs the question – “if it already has Netflix, what’s the point?” Maybe it’s just me, but I have yet to find anything in Play Movies that I can’t also find in Netflix. TV shows, maybe – Netflix is usually a bit behind when it comes to television shows.
To me, the not-so-extraordinary feature is desktop casting. Many people seemed pretty excited about this, but I personally see no “wow factor” in it. The fact is, if you have your PC (but more than likely laptop) with you in front of the TV, and cast your Google Chrome browser content to it, you’re still sitting in front of the TV using your computer system. Only now, you’re essentially looking at 2 monitors showing the same thing. You still have to look at your computer to point/click for the most part. I guess this is awesome if you want to share what’s on your browser with the rest of the family in the living room. But, how often does that happen?
My afore mentioned friend Tim showed me what IS awesome about desktop casting though – using it in the office for presentations. Especially if you have multiple parties who have individual content to share at the same presentation. Each party can add their content to the Chromecast queue, and it will broadcast in that order. Now THAT is pretty awesome! But if Chromecast is to be your media streaming entertainment device at home, what good is this?
Look, I get it – this little $35 nugget is poised for the future of online streaming. And there is no argument that the price point is unparalleled. My problem is that it simply seems unfinished. Maybe that was Google’s plan all along – release it now, bring developed apps later to keep the price down. I don’t know. I don’t work for Google. I just think that maybe they could have waited until there was more to it. After all, Ford didn’t release his first car with no wheels with the promise that it was only going to get better as each wheel was added.
Would I recommend the Chromecast to someone looking to Cut The Cord? Probably not, especially if they are looking for a more robust experience. But again, the $35 price point is its saving grace.
As for my first weekend with Chromecast, I can’t lie – it was more like a couple of hours. My wife asked, “so what’s so special about this thing?” Sadly, I had no answer for her. But I did say the same thing many others have said in other reviews – Hopefully new content will get added soon…