My Chromecast – 1 Year Later

Mari Silbey —  July 25, 2014 — 25 Comments

Chromecast set-up 1

A year after Google’s Chromecast launch, I am still a big fan of the TV streaming stick, but also a sporadic user at best.

Here are some of the Chromecast positives:

  • Free stuff! To celebrate the one-year anniversary, Google is offering three free months of Google Play Music All Access to Chromecast owners. (Although it may only be good for folks who haven’t tried Google music before. Dave had trouble registering.)
  • WatchESPN is now a Chromecast-supported app. My early-gen Roku box doesn’t get the online ESPN station, so this will become very important during college basketball season.
  • Full-screen Android mirroring is now a thing. Unfortunately device support is limited, but progress is progress.

My husband also had an interesting experience with Chromecast recently when he couldn’t get a Netflix episode of Mythbusters to run smoothly through our Roku. (Yes, we have FiOS, which has had trouble with Netflix quality.) Oddly enough, he found that casting the episode from his Chrome browser (not even from the Chromecast-supported Netflix app) improved quality significantly. I have no idea why this would be, but will experiment further to see what I can find out. (Different CDN handling the traffic??)

Despite all of the Chromecast goodness, however, I find I have limited reason to use it on a regular basis. My (much younger) brother says he tunes in with Chromecast all the time – in part to watch YouTube videos – so maybe it’s an issue of age-related habits. I keep hoping I’ll use my Chromecast stick more. But, after a year, I still think it’s a nifty little device.

25 responses to My Chromecast – 1 Year Later

  1. I rarely-to-never use my Chromecast. A buddy keeps asking to buy it. But I’m hanging on for more, better use cases (and have one in mind).

  2. I keep meaning to take it with me on trips for hotel use, but I keep forgetting! May be a downside to having a device that small and hide-able.

  3. Not to mention it’s probably tricky to get it to ride on the hotel WiFi. Wonder if you can both control and tether from the same phone simultaneously. Hm.

  4. Speaking of which, I hate that I’ve lost my grandfathered unlimited data plan from Verizon, but I love that I can now tether without paying a fee. (The idea of paying a fee to share my own data was beyond absurd to begin with.) I don’t think I’d tether for video streaming given data caps, but for sending critical email, it’s invaluable.

  5. Not to mention it’s probably tricky to get it to ride on the hotel WiFi.

    Yeah, most hotels block one wifi device from seeing another. This is a good thing for security reasons.

    There are a number of Windows/Mac applications to turn a laptop into a hotspot. I use one from connectify.me. You just use the laptop to login to the hotel wifi, and then it creates a new network for the phone/tablet and Chromecast.

  6. I have done the hotel thing. The trick is to get a travel router. Mine is the size of a thumb drive (ASUS WL-330NUL, ~$40). You can then log in your router past the hotel authentication screens with your laptop and stream away. Only used it a couple times, but its nice.

  7. I found the Chromecast (& Roku stick) useless while traveling.

    ALL hotels required a browser sign-in to use WiFi, which neither the Chromecast or the Roku stick supports.

    I even brought an Airport Express to use as an unconnected wireless router, thinking I could connect the Chromecast to the computer via the Airport Express & play files on my computer – doesn’t work, the Chromecast _requires_ an active Internet connection.

    I tried what David Miller suggests and that didn’t work either – even though I was able to connect to the hotel’s wired Ethernet and configure my MacBook Pro as a Wi-Fi hotspot the Chromecast (& Roku stick) still didn’t work because I still needed to sign-on via a browser for any device to access the hotel’s Internet (wired or wireless required sign-on via browser)

    You’re better off bringing a long computer to HDMI cable with you on trips.

  8. While I’m not the road warrior I once was (100 hotel nights in 2007), I still have a few tricks. Travel routers are pretty good, especially when you can manually duplicate your MAC on various devices. Also, many hotels like the Marriotts and Hiltons have 800 numbers for IT support. Maybe call them up and tell them your corporate VPN requires open Internet. I haven’t used this strategy for Chromecast, and hadn’t even thought about it today, but it’s been successful dropping the sign-in screen for other stuff (involving corporate VPNs, imagine that).

    But another gotcha could be related to the ports being used by various devices – several years back, I got a WiFi onto the network but couldn’t actually stream. So, unless you’re in a hotel for an extended stay, Bill’s probably right. Bring a long cable or a tablet. Last weekend in Florida, I watched two episodes of Under the Dome in bed via my phone. Not the ideal screen size generally speaking, but by holding it so close maybe it’s effectively larger than my 50″ plasma. ;)

  9. @Dave,

    Hey, its Under the Dome. Anything else might have required a better view screen. What the hell are you doing watching that shit anyway? Have you seen every episode of Sherlock, The Wire, Luther, Justified, Deadwood, Breaking Bad, etc? You sure there isn’t something better you could be watching?

    @Bill in NC

    I don’t think you tried what Dave Miller is suggesting. Your phone and your ChromeCast wouldn’t be on the hotel’s Wi-Fi they would be on the Wi-Fi created by you laptop. That Wi-Fi wouldn’t require a splash screen bypass, just a password. You would login to the hotel Wi-Fi on the laptop, bypassing the splash screen, then start Connectify.me or whatever. It would bridge the other devices to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, and making all the devices appear to be just one using NAT. It should work.

  10. Any idea whether Slingbox support for Chromecast is live yet? This recent input from a Sling employee seemed to only muddy the issue. One interpretation would be that it’s already supported on the new M1. The mixed signals from Sling and slow dribble of info regarding this have been pretty frustrating.

    http://answers.slingbox.com/message/105764#105764

  11. Thanks for reminding me about WatchESPN. I had seen that when I updated the app on my phone but had since forgotten. Maybe I’ll use it to watch an upcoming MLB game.

    I’m hoping that the screen mirroring will eventually support some older 4.x Android versions as well as more devices.

    It does seem strange that casting Netflix from Chrome would perform better than on a Roku. Which Roku model are you using anyway?

    I too use my Roku (2 XS) way more than I do my Chromecast. My two main reasons are access to Amazon Instant Video and having a physical remote. Dragging a progress bar on a touch screen tends to lack in precision.

  12. Glenn, I’ve seen every episode The Wire, Luther, Justified, Deadwood, and Breaking Bad. Think I have 2 or 3 of Sherlock that need to be watched. Will probably get caught up on The Leftovers via HBO GO on Roku (thank you, Verizon). Open to additional suggestions!

    John, I don’t think it’s been released yet. But based on the support agent’s note, it’s now confirmed and I’d guess we’re pretty close.

  13. I almost never use my Chromecast at home. But my ChromeCast and a TPLink travel router in ‘WISP’ mode is in my permanent electronics travel bag for hotels. Best way to do Netflix on the road. Once Slingbox has Chromecast support it will be a killer combination.

  14. I use my Chromecast weekly to watch a podcast on YouTube, which works very well. Apart from YouTube, I tried watching Cosmos and a few other shows using the Chromecast but had a lot of lag and stuttering. Seems to be better when I shut down all but one tab, but even then it’s not perfect. Maybe it’s time to update my router (Apple Airport).

    I want a Tablo but my Chromecast experience makes me wonder if I’ll have wifi issues with it.

  15. We stopped using the old school Roku XD in the living room and almost exclusively use the Chromecast to watch Netflix, YouTube, Vevo, and sometimes Pandora. This is where our boys watch TV and it’s just easier to control things from anywhere in the house via mobile phone or tablet.

    It’s only because we have limited content needs that we can do this. If we needed much else, I can see why others find it limiting. Maybe if we had a newer Roku we’d keep using that, but the XD is just so flaky and the Chromecast amazingly just works. :-)

  16. Oh, plus the Chrome tab sharing and full screen sharing works pretty well, as does screen mirroring from my Nexus 5.

  17. Mari, I’ve also noticed a difference in bitrates when using different devices to stream Netflix (Apple TV never shows any congestion issues). I added that test sample to my watchlist to do a side by side test during Netflix primetime, but the other parties in my household selfishly don’t want to give up the TV. Maybe later this week.

  18. The Android sharing feature opened the Chromecast up to the world of porn, which should be an interesting trend to observe.

  19. Here’s a business use case for you:

    We have a wireless network for employees of our company (in addition to wired connections). We connected a Chromecast to our projector’s HDMI port. Now, when anyone wants to present through the projector, they can just hook up through wireless and Chrome’s ‘share desktop’ feature. No more fumbling with VGA cables.

    Also worked great for the World Cup ;-)

  20. News: Google added a manual called ‘Chromecast Finally Works in Hotels’ in their Play Store that details how to get it working in a hotel.

  21. So someone has written an ebook describing how to use a travel router. I’m curious why that author mentions that both a laptop and an Android tablet were used though? Surely only one is needed. Also couldn’t you log into the Hotel’s wi-fi while connecting through the travel router the first time instead of logging on before turning it on?

  22. Just to be clear, Antoine, this isn’t from Google, just a third party author. Haven’t read the book, but as many have discussed, it’s definitely possible with a WISP router. I use the TP-Link 710N myself which is small, has a built in AC adapter, and dirt cheap. And to answer Kravimir, yes and yes… you would need a web browser, not a tablet and a PC, I’ve even done it from a phone. And yes, you can logon to WiFi initially through the travel router.

  23. I haven’t used Chromecast for traveling strictly due to the Wi-Fi log-in requirement. However, the Netgear PTV Miracast adapter is perfect!!!
    http://www.netgear.com/home/products/connected-entertainment/wireless-display-adapters/PTV3000.aspx
    It’s a little USB powered dongle with an HDMI plug and essentially works as a wireless HDMI cable via magic of Miracast. What’s better, the Miracast connection stays active while my phone is connected to another Wi-Fi network or LTE. I’ve taken it to Europe with great success using my HTC One M8 (Sprint, international unlocked)

    It’s dead simple to use.

  24. We sold 2 ATV2s and one roku and picked up 3 chromecasts which are perfect Plex endpoints. Everybody in the house is happier with this set up now that we don’t have to keep track of any remotes. I’ll be interested to see how the new android TV shapes up. We tried the fireTV and sent it back as it only did stereo via Plex.

  25. I’ve had and tried EVERYTHING. WAY back in the day I had TiVo, I’m talking first generation. Microsoft’s old satellite DVR (forget the name, I thought it was actually terrific). I’ve had DVRs from Comcast, DirecTV and Dish Network. ReplayTV. EyeTV (way before HD).

    Moving forward to slightly more modern era equipment, I’ve had every generation of AppleTV and Roku. I had the first WDTV (non-live, just the one that could stream off a USB drive or stick). An Asus O!Play (possibly the worst box… EVER). I’ve had a Windows PC, a Linux PC and a Mac hooked up via TV. I’ve tried GoogleTV. ChromeCast. FireTV. An OUYA running XBMC. Somewhere, I’ve probably forgotten at least one or two other things I’ve tried and abandoned.

    I have to admit, since getting a TiVo Roamio last month, I spend very little time outside the TiVo between it’s on demand support, the 3TB of storage I plugged into it, it’s decent Hulu and Netflix support, and it’s functional but lousy Spotify client. I still use the FireTV for it’s great Plex client. I still bring a ChromeCast and travel router to hotels for Netflix and other streaming. And I’m contemplating putting the AppleTV back in the main viewing room, solely because most of the TV channel streaming apps for iPad/iPhone support AirPlay, fewer support Chromecast/DIAL.

    TiVo is pretty close to the perfect box, and I’m glad I dropped my objection over the monthly service cost and did it. I think I’d dump everything else except ChromeCast when I travel if they just added better DIAL support (and apps continue to add support for it on iOS), and if they could add Prime to the Amazon app that’s a truly shameful example of an “app”. :)

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