The TV is the holy grail for companies like Google
, Microsoft, and Apple
; all three have unified desktop, tablet, and smartphone screens with their respective operating systems (and to a lesser extent, with their own devices), but the last screen that none have been able to take over is the television.
While it’s not the silver bullet needed to bridge the gap to the TV once and for all, Google’s new Chromecast device does offer a new way to get content from your devices onto the TV. The little dongle plugs into your TV, and once you connect it to your WiFi network and open a supported app, it streams content to the television via the Internet. You can control it with a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Note that although you use your device to pull up content, the hardware doing the actual streaming is the Chromecast itself; when you pull up a video you want to see on the TV, you press the “Cast” button (again, you need a supported app for this), and the device tells Chromecast to stream it. It’s actually quite a bit like how a smart TV
works, but you don’t need a remote, you don’t have to fiddle with a TV interface, and it works on any TV with the appropriate ports.
Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play all work with Chromecast, and Google says that you can “cast” anything from the web via the Chrome web browser. To use Chromecast, you’ll need an Android (2.3 or higher) or iOS (6 or higher) phone or tablet, a Mac (OS X 10.7 or higher), a PC (Windows 7 or higher), or a Chromebook Pixel.
Chromecast runs Android 2.3 and features HDMI out, CEC compatibility, 1080p HD output video resolution, and 802.11 b/g/n (2.4 GHz) WiFi. You can buy one today, and the units will start shipping in early August.