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Google Chromecast Reviewed; Google Nixes Netflix Discount 128

adeelarshad82 writes "While it's more limited than the Roku 3 and by no means Google's answer to Airplay, Chromecast sets itself apart from other similar products simply based on its price and potential of bringing Internet HDTV streaming to many more people than before. Priced at only $35, it's a direct stick that plugs into your HDTV's HDMI port and lets you stream media from Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play through your smartphone, tablet, or notebook. Unlike the Roku Stick, it uses a separate micro-USB port instead of MHL to power it. This on one hand means you need to run a cable from the stick to a USB port, making it much less neat than it would seem. On the other hand, it means the stick works with any HDTV, whether it has an MHL-capable HDMI port or not. Once connected, the setup itself is fairly simple and entirely app-controlled. Past the setup, your streaming content choices are currently limited, though Google released an API for the Chromecast, so more apps could support it in the future. For now Android users can stream media from Google Play Movies and Music, as well as Netflix and YouTube whereas iOS users can watch Netflix and YouTube via the Chromecast. From a computer, users can stream media from Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and Chrome. Unlike Apple TV and AirPlay, Chromecast doesn't let you stream your locally stored media. In fact Google Play Music gives an error message when you try to play music you loaded on your device yourself and not through the Google Play store. All in all, at $35 it's the most affordable way to access online media services on your HDTV." El Reg also got their hands on one. Alas, one perk of grabbing the Chromecast is gone: Google ended the free three month Netflix bundle that was worth almost as much as the cost of the Chromecast itself after sales were much higher than expected (so high it looks like they ran out of them after only a day). Update: 07/26 21:20 GMT by U L : iFixIt posted a teardown of the Chromecast.
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Google Chromecast Reviewed; Google Nixes Netflix Discount

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  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:10PM (#44394319) Journal

    From Wired's Dongle Style review [wired.com]:

    Yes, you can play local video. At least some of it. A not-strictly-speaking legitimate copy of Black Mirror in MKV file format played magnificently on our television when we dropped it in a Chrome browser window.

    Likewise, if you’re running it in a browser, Amazon Instant video, Hulu, Rdio, and HBO Go all just work. As did video from Wired, Gawker media, and Flickr slideshows. We ran photos from Facebook fullscreen. We watched a live Flash stream of a Braves game on an extremely shady bootleg site that spawned approximately a gazillion Chrome windows in the background.

    Good luck getting one though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:25PM (#44394463)

    When you can buy a full-featured Roku 3 for only $100, I don't really get it either.

    According to Wired.com [wired.com] "[I]f you’re running it in a browser, Amazon Instant video, Hulu, Rdio, and HBO Go all just work. As did video from Wired, Gawker media, and Flickr slideshows." I have a Roku and love it, but I also have Comcast. That means, in its infinite retardery, I can not watch HBO Go on my Roku. If this really does work as well as Wired says it does, I can watch it through the Chromecast Chrome browser, making my Roku a paperweight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:39PM (#44394587)

    Roku units are god-awful for playback of local content.

    I'm running Plex on mine, which seems to work well. Gotta set the server up on a pc, but it seems pretty low impact.

  • Re:Clever strategy (Score:4, Informative)

    by arnott ( 789715 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:40PM (#44394599)
    If you have HDMI 1.4+, the power adapter is not needed.
  • Re:Cute, But ... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:56PM (#44394789)

    google approved content??? no, its limited to those apps that have the ability to use the cast feature, right now netflix, some google services (youtube,play music, ect.) and through the chrome browser, are what have the ability, not because of some conspiracy of google approved content, but because the SDK was just released with it, so it a couple of months there will be an several video players that allow you to play whatever.

    Until then its just a device that works with apps that take advantage of the cast feature, whether google "approves" of it or not.

  • by stigmato ( 843667 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @05:02PM (#44394849)

    I want a cheep device that simply mirrors my screen (from whatever device, like a VNC viewer) to my TV over my LAN. Give me that and I'll be a happy camper.

    Using Chrome and the Chromecast Extension you can mirror your screen. Simply click the "Cast" button and select "Cast entire screen" under the arrow.

  • Re:Clever strategy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 26, 2013 @05:36PM (#44395161)

    False. HDMI 1.4 did not add any additional power to the spec, and the 50mA that HDMI does require actually comes from the *source* - which would be the Chromecast.

    MHL does add power, which is what the Roku streaming stick uses, but it's not clear whether or not the Chromecast supports that.

  • Re:Cute, But ... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Proteus ( 1926 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @06:09PM (#44395345) Homepage Journal

    Your comment is either astonishingly ignorant or really bad trolling:

    • Apple iOS devices play whatever video and audio content you want, provided you supply it in a supported format (H.264 M4V, for example); the supported formats are open standards, and tools to create compatible files are ubiquitous, and many are free. Or you can just install VLC for iOS and use pretty much any format (though it does decoding in software for formats that i-Devices don't have hardware decoders for, which means battery life goes down the shitter).
    • Win8 devices likewise will play whatever content you transfer to them, providing it's in one of the supported formats. Likewise, many of the supported formats are open standards, and tools to create compatible files are readily available. MS puts very few restrictions on what you can install, so adding more media support is trivial.
    • Amazon's Kindle readers only support the AZW format for DRM-protected content, but will read unprotected MOBI, PRC, and TPZ eBook formats out of the box; they also allow you to read plain-text files and have some basic PDF support. The Kindle tablet supports MP4 video using open-standard codecs, just like iOS and Win8 do. All Kindle devices that can play audio support MP3 and Audible.

    If it were true that the Chromecast only allowed "Google approved content" as grandparent claims, that would be far more constraining than any of the devices you gave examples of.

    Unfortunately for GP, they misunderstand Chromecast's limitations; direct, native streaming is only available for a few Google-approved sources, but anything the Chrome browser plays out of the box (including any HTML5 video, Flash objects, etc.) can be cast to the dongle; it's hardly as limited as "Google-approved sources", more like "stuff using technologies and formats that Google supports in Chrome".

  • by Karlt1 ( 231423 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @06:32PM (#44395473)

    Setting up Plex Server:

    1. Download Plex and click install.
    2. Choose folders to share from.the web admin client.

    Setting up client on Roku:

    1. Choose Plex app from store
    2. Let Plex find server.

  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @10:02PM (#44396699)

    I see nothing at your link which differs from information here.

    You just have people arguing about the same two Verge/Wired stories on the tab casting.

    Regardless that Wired didn't notice any issues with it, it is still a poor solution. Wired used it to play a TV show MKV, likely lower resolution so they may not have noticed the problems. They spent a whole 2 and half lines of text covering the feature.

    Verge has more extensive coverage, including how it works. It plays the video locally on your computer, then uses WebRTC to essentially send screen caps to the device.

    This is the critical part: it needs to recompress the video again in real time to send it to the chromecast.

    That is bound to destroy quality for most people and cause hiccup on higher resolution materials.

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