Chromecast: the gadget that changes everything

The Chromecast is a tiny gadget that connects to your TV via HDMI and is powered by USB. It’s a £30 media-streaming device that allows you to play TV shows, movies and music from a variety of sources, on any display with an HDMI port. The key thing about Chromecast is it is easy to set up. It doesn’t tie you to a subscription service; it is simply a supremely easy and cheap way to turn any TV into a smart TV. A smart TV with benefi ts.

The major content sources are BBC iPlayer, Netfl ix, YouTube and Google Play. There’s also Red Bull TV and Vevo, plus a couple of apps that allow you to stream locally stored media via your Chromecast. BBC iPlayer speaks for itself. Using it you can watch live BBC TV, as well as catch up on virtually all the BBC’s vast amount of programming over the past week. If you tend to catch up with ‘EastEnders’ via your laptop, the Chromecast lets you enjoy it in glorious HD on your large-screen TV. As a Licence Fee payer in the UK you get access to all of this content for free.

Netfl ix is the coming man of the on-demand TV world. It o ers thousands of TV programmes and movies, many of them big-name US series, and it’s growing all the time. And that’s not taking into account the burgeoning amounts of original programming such as the recent ‘House of Cards’ series, as well as ‘Arrested Development’. You do, of course, have to pay for Netfl ix, at £5.99 per month.

YouTube isn’t just cats falling out of trees. Indeed, more content is added to YouTube every day than has ever been broadcast on any (or indeed all) mainstream TV broadcasters. Increasingly highquality original programming and livestream media is being uploaded to YouTube, and Chromecast allows you to watch it on the big screen.

And then there is Google Play. This is Google’s alternative to iTunes and, although not as mature, it tends to be cheaper and the number of titles available is huge. You can watch a wide variety of Hollywood- and indie movies, as well as highclass TV programming from around the world. The documentaries are great, too. You have to pay for individual titles, but you can rent them cheaply (and you can watch a fi lm on your commute and fi nish it o on the TV). Play Music is supported, too.

Other sources include Red Bull TV, which o ers up extreme sports, lifestyle and music programming, and Vevo music videos. Finally there are couple of apps – Plex and RealPlayer Cloud – that allow you to watch locally stored media such as ripped DVDs. Expect more apps to support Chromecast and other content providers to get in on the act soon.

Chromecast is a game changer