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.
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.
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.