After what felt like an interminable wait, Google has at last launched the Chromecast in the UK. The £30 device lets you make any TV ‘smart’ – all you need is a free HDMI input on your television and a Wi-Fi network.
It’s a low-cost
competitor to the Apple TV and allows you to
stream media using smartphones, tablets, PCs and
laptops. You can watch YouTube videos, Netfl ix,Vevo and other services, but on launch day, BBC
iPlayer was the only UK catch-up TV service to
support the Chromecast.
The device comes with a short HDMI cable in
case you can’t plug it in to your TV directly, and it’s
powered by an included Micro-USB cable and mains
adaptor. However, if your television has a free USB
port, you can use that to provide power instead.
There’s no remote control since the idea is
that you use your Android smartphone or tablet
to decide what to watch and to pause, rewind or
fast-forward the video. You can also use an iPhone
or iPad running iOS 6 or later or – if you don’t own a compatible device – you can use any PC, laptop
or Google Chromebook and control things from
Google’s Chrome web browser.
Once you’ve installed the app (or Chrome
extension) and connected the dongle to your
Wi-Fi network, you’re ready to ‘cast’. A pop-up
box prompts you to choose a Chromecast, then
returns you to the playback screen where you
can tap the play button.
The video will bu ffer and begin playing on your
TV. You can use the app’s playback and volume
controls, but you can also switch to another app to
check your email, browse the web, play a game or
anything else without interrupting playback.
There’s no Chromecast interface as such.
Apart from the ‘home screen’, which is presumably
there just so you know the Chromecast is working,
everything is controlled from a companion device.
‘Casting’ is a somewhat misleading term since,
for the majority of the time, video isn’t being sent
from your smartphone or tablet. Instead, the app
merely sets up a stream from the internet directly
to the Chromecast.