Playtime! Chromecast at Home

Chromecast set-up 1

I have barely scratched the surface of what Chromecast can do (although Janko has a lengthy review), and already I love it. Here are a few things I’ve learned from laptop streaming only. More experimentation to come with smartphones and iPads.

Lessons Learned

1. Set-up is extremely fast and easy. I know it’s already been said by others, but it bears repeating. I plugged the stick into my TV, navigated to the Chromecast set-up page on my laptop browser, typed in the code listed on my TV screen, gave my Chromecast a name, and that was it. The only hiccup I ran into was that my laptop briefly disconnected from my wireless network during set-up. Once I reconnected it, Chromecast worked instantly.

2. Chromecast isn’t just for apps. Streaming a web page is surprisingly easy and compelling. If your family’s ever crowded around a laptop in the living room, you’ll like having Chromecast as an alternative.

Chromecast set-up 2

3. YouTube works really well with the Chromecast. Even though web pages are great, you can also directly ‘cast’ from a YouTube video in your browser to your TV screen. It’s full-screen mode on your television.

4. You can’t cast private YouTube videos… even your own. If you try, the screen on your TV will just show you generic YouTube wallpaper. I wanted to stream some old home movies on YouTube that I had marked private, so I temporarily made them public, and they were immediately available on my TV.

5. Video quality is pretty darn good. While my home movies are never going to look like Disney cinema, professionally-produced video look pretty great when streamed from my laptop to my TV. For $35, the Chromecast is worth it just to see Hitler being told of the death of Google Reader, and Cookie Monster singing Share It Maybe on my HD flat screen.

13 thoughts on “Playtime! Chromecast at Home”

  1. With the USB cable attached for power, the lever arm on that device looks to have a scary potential for damaging your HDMI port. Best to keep the cable light and well-supported.

  2. Slingbox from their Facebook app will work. But hopefully they’ll add native app support…?

    I assume the WiFi dropping is due to the laptop trying to speak directly to the Chromecast, prior to the Chromecast knowing the home WiFi network? Not sure. But my setup was super easy too – I did it from my Galaxy Note 2.

  3. From when I set up mine, the wifi disconnected and connected to an ssid that I think had chrome in the name, then reconnected to my normal wifi once the setup was done. Now if it wasn’t useless for your own content I’d use it more. the casting of a tab is horrible and theres not enough sites natively supported to be useful yet. Basically unless you watch netflix and youtube only, its going to sit there.

  4. chris, I think it’s a temporary situation and given the large number of units moved I fully expect a LOT of app support.

    tivoboy, not at this time. Just a casting a tab from the Facebook player. I assume they’re look into bringing it to the mobile apps.

  5. We brought a Chromecast along on our week’s vacation to California last week. I was pleasantly surprised when the Embassy Suites Hotel TV allowed us to switch to the other HDMI input and use the Chromecast. For the small amount of space it takes up in the carry-on, it’s worth giving it a shot. Note that you might also want to bring a pocket wireless router along, in case the hotel’s wifi signal isn’t strong enough to reach your Chromecast in the room. (The antenna on the Chromecast isn’t great.)

    I also ended up using the mobile hotspot feature of my phone and streaming to the Chromecast over that as well. That required two devices (one to be the hotspot, one to stream to the Chromecast) but since my wife and I both had our phones that wasn’t a problem.

  6. Peter, I’d imagine the bigger problem with hotel WiFi is authentication – there’s usually some sort of splash page to click-thru, even when it’s free. And when you pay, it’s often MAC-restricted to one device. Although many of us here are geeky enough to have travel routers and use our mobile hotspots. ;)

  7. Odd that private videos don’t work. Suggests the ChromeCast isn’t logged into your account. Which it would have to be for say Hulu Plus or HBO Go to work. Netflix too though so they must have solved this issue there. Odd.

    Seems like a big problem when you can’t (yet) stream your own stuff off your phone OR off YouTube. Huh.

    Still, I agree with Dave this thing is going to get support from lots of apps. Just hope Amazon doesn’t play hard to get with Prine streaming.

  8. Glenn, the app implementation also has to get better. Fumbling to unlock my screen and back into the app to find a pause button wasn’t the most user friendly – maybe we can get controls into the lock screen or something and a VERY large pause button within the apps? I dunno… loving my new Roku 3. Probably my current favorite box. Wish it could link into a TiVo or HDHomeRun or something.

  9. I dunno… loving my new Roku 3. Probably my current favorite box. Wish it could link into a TiVo or HDHomeRun or something.

    I heard that! If the Roku could be integrated with the Tivo, that would be awesome!

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