The Chromecast Verdict

The Chromecast button appears in Netflix for iOS and Android, too, and works like a charm.Once a video is playing, you can put your phone or tablet to sleep to save battery, and still pause the playback from the lock screen, or pick up the controls from another device on the same network.

Google’s Play Music and Play Movies & TV apps on Android are also supported and let you cast content you’ve bought or rented from the Play Store. We were unable to play albums that we’d bought from Google Play, though – we tried playing both music that was downloaded to our smartphone as well as songs stored in Google Music, but nothing worked. The album art appeared on the TV briefl y, but was then replaced by a “cannot play side-loaded music” error message.

Strangely, there’s no way to cast photos and videos from your camera roll to your Chromecast, whether you’re using an iPhone, iPad or Android device. Third-party apps such as AllCast can do this but when we tried the free version, there was a 15- to 20-second delay before a photo we’d tapped was shown on screen. Videos wouldn’t play at all.

Video and audio quality will depend on the source video. The worst-quality YouTube videos naturally look awful on a big-screen TV, but good-quality 1080p footage looks pretty good.

The Chromecast supports 5.1 surround sound, but since audio is output through the HDMI connector, you’ll need a TV with an optical or coaxial S/PDIF output, which is connected to a suitable surround-sound amp and speakers in order to hear multichannel audio. Similar to video quality, the availability of 5.1 sound will depend entirely on whether the video you’re playing has a 5.1 soundtrack.

The Chromecast is cheap and easy to use, but there aren’t many apps that support it yet. This situation is bound to change over the coming months, but for now you might find your existing smart TV o ffers more.

The Chromecast Review