After a long time, Google has finally released Chromecast in India. It’s available at a pretty decent price (Rs 2,999) and has a whole lot of features that can help users. But there’s a bit of confusion in what it actually does. Let’s find out what Chromecast is and who it is good for.
What is Google Chromecast?
Chromecast is a little dongle, much like a USB pen drive. Instead of a USB port, it connects to an HDMI port—used in most flat screen televisions. The device is powered by a cable just like any Android phone though, so you need to connect it to a power supply or to the USB port on your TV. Chromecast also needs to be connected to your local Wi-Fi network. Without an HDMI port, a USB-based power supply, and a Wi-Fi network, the Chromecast is useless, so make sure you have those elements.
What does Chromecast do?
Chromecast wirelessly connects your TV to other devices, like your phone, tablet or computer. Phones and tablets will need to have a Chromecast app (which is supported on Android and iOS), and you will need to use the Google Chrome browser with the Chromecast extension on a computer.
Here’s how it works: Chromecast supports certain apps. When you are using a Chromecast-friendly app on your phone, like YouTube, you can tap the Chromecast button to send the video to your TV. You still control the playback (play/pause/scroll back or ahead/volume) through your phone, but the video is played on your TV.
On the PC, you can cast either your current tab in Chrome or your entire screen onto the TV. Some Android devices also let you cast your Android’s screen to the TV, letting you play games or watch movies.
Why is Chromecast useful?
The idea of Chromecast is to free you from the small screen you are using and see everything on the big screen.
It’s ideal for a shared viewing experience. You’re watching a YouTube video and want to show it to someone else? You want to show off your great snaps from your recent vacation? Chromecast is the easiest way to do that.
It’s great for presentations. No more messy wires and fiddling around to connect things.
Chromecast is directly connected to the app being cast—that means you can exit the app on your phone and start using other stuff, while Chromecast continues to play it.
Similarly, it lets you monitor a tab without keeping it open on your computer’s screen all the time. Cast it to your TV and continue working on your computer as you usually do.
What does Chromecast not do?
Chromecast is dependent completely on other devices. It’s not a computer by itself, unlike the Raspberry Pi or several Android-based media centres for TVs, like the Amkette Evo TV. Those gadgets can be used without needing a phone or laptop; the Chromecast, on the other hand, is an extension of your phone or laptop.
Chromecast does not work with most Windows, Mac or Linux software. So you can’t start playing a Blu-ray on your PC and hope for Chromecast to start playing that.
Finding apps for Chromecast is key to the experience, so here’s a list of great Chromecast apps for Indian users.
Should you buy Chromecast?
If you have a TV and an Android phone/tablet, an iPhone or an iPad, the Chromecast is a no-brainer. For Rs. 3,000, you can turn your TV into a second screen for your mobile device. Plus, there is the added advantage of using it with your laptop or PC as well.
However, a Chromecast is not a necessity. It greatly enhances how you use your existing devices, but without it, your experience isn’t going to be diminished in any way. It’s a question of Rs. 2,999 in the end—if you have that and want a new gadget, the Chromecast should be your first purchase.