Cutting the Cord: PART 2

Still peeved at the cable company for a 49% rate hike but dissatisfied with my previous effort I took a shot at another product; Google's Chromecast.

Google's Chromecast device is nothing new but I have avoided it because of it's direct tie with having to use Google's Chrome web browser to use it.  Nothing against Chrome, it's a good browser, just not ~my~ browser.  I really don't want to live in two worlds; Chrome for my TV watching and Firefox for everything else. I also don't want to have to port everything from one browser to another like I did when I gave up on Internet Explorer. So yeah, at least in my review, Chromecast starts out with a strike against it.

What is Chromecast's second strike? Chrome. Yep, second strike is related to the first. Not only do you have to use Google's Chrome web browser to use a Chromecast but the viewing area is also limited to the display area of Chrome. Have a video file you want to play on your TV? Not without pumping it through Chrome somehow (home web server?).

OK, so my first two complaints I actually knew about prior to buying my Chromecast so I got them off my chest first. The third one I knew about, sort of, but only realized while playing with the ezCast device in my "Cutting the Cord: PART 1" article; Chromecast shares the same "HDMI Stick" format that ezCast has (obviously copied by the ezCast). With some TVs this might be OK based on the location and direction of the HDMI ports, mine point straight back towards the wall.  This causes two problems for me; 1) If the TV gets pushed back it will cram the Chromecast into my HDMI port and risk damaging both the TV and the Chromecast. 2) The weight of the Chromecast and attached power cord, albeit not much, could damage the HDMI port over time. Both issues could, of course be dealt with by using a short HDMI extension cable adding expense to this solution.

Remember this? Yeah, same thing with Chromecast.

One issue I had with the ezCast I don't have with the Chromecast; The Chromecast came with both a USB power cable and wall adapter.  It doesn't sound like much unless you try to install one and don't have spare parts laying around to make up for a manufacturer's oversight.  Thank you Google for including everything I need to use your product.

The Chromecast is on basically even par with ezCast when it comes to the topic of price; the Chromecast only costs about $35, or about $10 more than ezCast but it also comes with a cable and power supply, aka everything you need to make it work (unlike ezCast).

Actual installation is pretty simple, slightly easier than EZ-Cast. First plug the Chromecast into the TV via an available HDMI port and also the supplied USB power adapter (or USB port on your TV if you have one). Switch your TV to the appropriate HDMI input. At this point the TV should be displaying a picture from your Chromecast begging to be configured and giving you a setup name something akin to "Chromecast0415". At this point, it's hands-off the Chromecast.

The next step in setup is to use a WiFi connected computer with Google's Chrome browser installed and surf out to to get the latest Chromecast utility, install it, run it. The Chromecast utility will automatically search out your Chromecast and display an authorization code something like "M4L7", if this is the same as what is displayed on your TV then click "That's my code" and go through the wireless setup with SSID and password settings.

Anytime you want your Chrome screen to be played on TV,
just click the Chromecast icon

The really, really, cool thing? If you have any other Chromecast aware devices (like an Android phone) on the same WiFi network....Boom! same icon, same super powers, no extra configuration!

Throughput on the Chromecast had jitters for the first few seconds of playback but it quickly buffered and displays video perfectly afterwards.  I can now get high quality video from web to eyes without being hunched over a small laptop screen. Again, the video is limited to what is displayed inside of Chrome, no desktop stuff but this is however an exercise in media for cable-cutting purposes not apps for business demos so Chromecast beats EZ-Cast hands down for this use.

My final opinion of the Chromecast is humorously an almost reverse opinion of ezCast.  Whereas ezCast makes a decent business class device for showing the whole desktop, Chromecast fails. Where ezCast failed playing video, Chromecast succeeds. Overall Chromecast is a decent device for very little money, it's failures were basically known prior to purchasing so I don't feel cheated in any way. I just can't quite see myself replacing a TV experience with one that requires me to have my laptop out and surf the web for what I want to watch. My quest to kill cable has hope, but Chromecast isn't going to cut it being limited to what I can find on the web.

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