Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player

The Chromecast is a snap to set up just plug it into your HDMI port.
The Chromecast is a snap to set up
just plug it into your HDMI port.
It may be small,but Google’s new tiny, key-shaped black HDMI dongle makes a massive impact on the crowded streaming device market in ease-of-use and pricing.

Setting up the Chromecast is easy and amazingly clever. Just plug the Chromecast into an HDMI port and power it up via USB (Google bundles a wall wart if your TV/monitor doesn’t have USB). From the wireless network you plan to mount the Chromecast to, simply download the Chromecast Google Chrome plugin from  and it will connect to the Chromecast via Wi-Fi and finish the setup. You can set up the Chromecast from any Android Wi-Fi- enabled device running 2.3 or up, as well as any PC, Mac, or iOS device. You can even set up the Chromecast from a Chromebook, although Google only lists the Chromebook Pixel as being supported.

With the plugin installed on the Chrome browser on your PC, you’ll find a new Chromecast button in the two primary services supported: Netflix and YouTube. You’ll also find a Chromecast button on your Android or iOS apps if you have the latest version of YouTube or Netflix installed. Clicking the button casts the video to the HDTV the Chromecast is plugged into. The content isn’t actually streamed from Netflix or YouTube directly to your PC and then on to your TV — the Chromecast gets fed the stream directly from the services, so you can continue to use your phone, tablet, or PC, or even power them down.

Google’s Chromecast displays in crystal clear 1080p, unlike many other bargain streamers, which only display in 720p. We found that there was no lag or drops in image quality when streaming both YouTube and Netflix videos on our 10-megabit connection. Our videos sometimes took a while to buffer, but after that we were treated to a silky smooth viewing experience.

The Chromecast’s advantage over other cheap streamers is apparent when searching for titles to watch. Instead of an awkward, clunky remote as a navigation tool, you use your phone or tablet’s virtual keyboard, or the PC’s keyboard.

The third function (which is still in beta) is the mirroring feature, which lets you clone your PC’s browser to the Chromecast. When we first tried the mirroring function, we found it to be slow, laggy, and unresponsive. A firmware update helped reduce some of the choppiness but it still wasn’t ready for prime time. So, what’s the deal? We suspect it has to do with the network. Trying to mirror a screen from an Ultrabook over Wi-Fi gave us the usual dropped frames, but once we plugged the same Ultrabook into a LAN port, the streaming greatly improved. We’re not sure if it’s a router issue, as the wireless must deal with three streams (one to your PC, one back to the router, and then a third to the Chromecast) or just the fact that the feature is in beta. Right now, we’d recommend that you stick with a hard wire, though. Even when it works, however, mirroring is limited to 720p.

The Chromecast features a bargain bin price of $35, which is much cheaper than other 1080p streaming devices, which usually run about $60, and don’t offer Chromecast’s killer app, YouTube. The device is easy to set up and use, and using a phone’s keyboard is a huge improvement over using a re-mote. We’ll take the Chromecast’s superior input methods and its two mega apps, Netflix and YouTube, over any other streamer today.