Streaming Media Devices and then Chromecast

Roku screen

Streaming media has become a mainstay in many homes these days. It’s not just the kids streaming YouTube from their computers and making short videos to upload. Services such as Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, TuneIn and the list Roku screengoes on and on. For the last few years you could use many devices to access these services such as a Roku, XBox, Wii, Playstation and others. Recently Google entered the market with their ChromeCast device that plugs into the HD port on a television. But why is this different than the others? Well, there are some good differences and the not so good differences. Let’s just jump into what’s not so good, so we can enjoy the good as we finish up.

The not so good part is that ChromeCast is new. With new, comes less as far as apps and things to do with it. with that said, Google has their SDK available (a developers kid for the programming types) that allow people to build apps. Just like when IPhone and the AppStore had all the cool smart phone apps and Android based phones had few, now ‘Droid based phones have far more apps that have far more uses than IPhone apps (check out the number of apps in AppStore and Google Play for comparison yourself). However, even though there are the fewer apps now, in about 2-6 months that will not be the case so much. In fact, if I had to place a bet, I’d say the ChromeCast will have as many apps, or more within the next 6-8 months.

Now, let’s talk about the good here, and there are plenty of them for us techie types. First, this thing plugs into your HD ChromeCast, Google port on a TV, so that means it’s portable! Going to a friend’s house and  want to show some of your cool videos on his big screen? Traveling for  work and want to watch your stuff, or even use the hotel big screen TV  as your monitor? Sure take your ChromeCast with you and have fun.  Your Roku and AppleTV can’t do that very nicely. Sure you could pack it up and hope you have access to a wired connect (Chromecast uses wireless).  You can stream your audio from  Itunes and other audio apps to the TV (or the TV’s surround sound as  an added feature).  You can also stream to your TV but have another t  tab open on your computer, tablet or smartphone and still continue to  browse the web or do your work while the original video, audio, website whatever you’re casting is still on the TV.

Did I mention that if you have tablet or smartphone (even an IPhone or Windows phone) you can download an app that allows you to pull something up on your phone, cast it to the TV for better viewing and set the phone down? Your tablet does the same thing as well. Here is a link to a site that shows you step by step how to get into your ChromeCast and make it a little more specific to your taste and how to do some of the things you might like to do, and remember this can be done anywhere there is a TV with an HDMI port available to you, not just one TV like Roku (which can’t stream what you have on your computer anyway). Scroll the below embedded webpage to learn how to play Itunes and do other cool things with your Chromecast.

 

Ok so now you know how to hack this thing a little bit and want to start using it. We did find one little nifty way to use our ChromeCast that I’d like to take a moment to share. One of my hobbies is to go ghost hunting. I’ve been doing it for years. We have quite a bit of notoriety in our area so we’re invited to give presentations at libraries and other locations. So I did a couple of things. First I downloaded the ChromeCast App for my laptop. and an app for my Samsung S4 called de Mobo. On my laptop, I loaded a PowerPoint presentation into the ChromeCast app so that my presentation showed up on the TV screen. Then I used the de Mobo app to control the presentation slides (because de Mobo connects with the ChromeCast) and now I was able to stand away from my laptop to control my presentation. Complete setup from end to end took about 8 minutes. Consider this: I had a room full of people looking at a 60″ TV screen watching my presentation. No projectors needed, no wires needed and a nice clean setup. You do need Wifi to make this work, but that’s easy to accomplish, even if you don’t know the wireless passwords of the place you’re going to be. You can take your own wireless access point, configure it and the ChromeCast while at home and then while on location simply plug your Wifi in and away you go! You don’t need internet connection to your wireless, just use the wireless to connect from your laptop to the ChromeCast. Your laptop might have a Wifi card in it, your smartphone has data so there are lots of ways to use this device. Be creative!

As I’ve stated, the cons about the fewer apps are coming from people who have no imagination. The apps will come, and the ability now to be creative and use this device in ways that a Roku, AppleTV and similar devices can’t are night and day.

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