As much as I love just about anything home automation and anything with the word “smart” in it, I have never been completely sold on smart TVs. All it really does is save you some space where your Roku would sit. They are still overpriced and many don’t have enough impressive features to inspire me to give up my fairly new television.
If you’re in the same boat I am in, you should consider Google’s Chromecast. This HDMI dongle lets you watch videos, use apps, and play music to your television by connecting it to your smartphone or computer. While this product isn’t anything new, as it’s been out for two years now, it has been recently designed with additional perks. The new design is sleeker and smaller, the processor is faster, and it now includes WiFi. And, it’s only $35.
The design and idea for the product is so simple that it’s genius. Every design element was created for a reason. The circular design and easily moldable HDMI makes it easy to fit it into your TV’s HDMI port, which is often in an inconvenient, hidden spot with other HDMIs plugged in. The HDMI magnetically attaches to the backside of the circular dongle. One downside is that the Chromecast doesn’t have its own internal battery, meaning you have to supply it power. If your TV has a USB port, your problem is solved, but if you don’t, you’ll have to find a different solution.
Setting up your Chromecast is just as simple as the design. Just plug it in. Then, download the Chromecast app, which will scan and detect your device. Log onto your WiFi network and you’re ready to watch Netflix, Hulu, home videos, YouTube…whatever you want. Your smartphone or computer will also act as a remote, so need to purchase yet another remote. A lot of apps support Chromecast, so you can use your device to use YouTube, NFL Sunday Ticket, Spotify, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, Showtime, Pandora, Google Play Music, and more. Chromecast works for both Android and iOS with one difference. Android offers the added benefit of home screen mirroring directly to your television.
The Google Chromecast may not be as fancy as other devices, but it’s inexpensive and a great foray into the world smart television. Beyond using it for your main television, it’s a great device to have on hand at work for presentations, on vacation, or for use in a spare bedroom.