This might just be crazy enough to work. Take the idea of Apple’s AirPlay feature, make it work with more than just Apple devices, and charge $35 for the thing that connects to TV sets instead of $100 for an Apple TV box.
That’s ostensibly what Google’s just done with the $35 Chromecast, a device resembling an oversized thumbdrive that plugs into an open HDMI port on the back of your TV set and draws power via a USB connection.
Once connected, you’ll be able to hand video and audio content from your phone, tablet or computer off to your TV set, where it’ll be available for all to see (or hear) on the biggest, nicest screen in your home. This works cross-platform, too – not just with Google devices. Google today demoed how it works using an iPhone, for instance.
Some apps – most notably, YouTube and Netflix — will feature built-in Chromecast support via a “Cast” button residing somewhere in the interface. Press the button, and the Chromecast – which runs a stripped-down version of Google’s Chrome operating system – will grab the video feed from the cloud and play it back directly from the Chromecast device. No actual slinging from the phone, in other words. The idea works the same for music from Google’s music service and Pandora.
Where things get more interesting is when using Google’s Chrome web browser on a PC, Mac or Chromebook computer. The Chromecast features support (albeit in beta for now) for slinging whatever you’re looking at in your browser to your TV set. Remember when a bunch of broadcasters blocked their content from being played via Google TV way back when? For $35, this latest trick from Google appears to offer a relatively elegant workaround.
The Chromecast adapter is available now from the Google Play store. Harry was at the event today where Chromecast was announced and has a review unit in hand. Check back here later for some of his first impressions.