Google Chromecast Rreview

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.

Chromecast Verdict