Watching the Web on TV8/7/2013
Every few years a technological innovation comes along that is so obvious it’s infuriating that you didn’t come up with it yourself. A few recent examples include eBay, the iPod and YouTube, each of which revolutionized its field and practically changed the world. The beauty of these ingenious tech tools is that virtually no one can see them coming, and as soon as they hit, you know immediately that you need it. Two weeks ago I felt this same impulse with the announcement of Google Chromecast, a key-sized device that allows you to wirelessly stream almost any Web content from any computing device to your TV.
Streaming content wirelessly from computing devices to television is nothing new. Apple TV has offered this capability for years. What is new is Chromecast’s ultraportability and price. For only $35, users can basically carry their entire video or audio library in their pocket and stream it to any TV or stereo system that has a vacant HDMI port.
For the last five years, Apple and Google have been battling over which would be the first tech giant to revolutionize the TV industry. Sorry, Apple, but with Chromecast, it seems Google has changed the rules of the game. While Chromecast natively integrates YouTube and Netflix streaming functionality, the real power of the devices comes with its connection to Google’s Chrome Web browser. If it can be called up and played in a Chrome browser window, and it can be streamed to a Chromecast connected TV. HBOGO, ESPN web videos, web-based videogames, local news websites — literally anything you pull up in a browser can now be seen on your TV.
But the real blessing of Chromecast is the almost zero learning curve. Once plugged into your TV and paired with your computing device, the remote is the computer with all playback controls you already know. In fact, Chromecast will even turn your TV on and turn to the proper input when receiving content.
So before you try to share another Web video with friends on your phone’s tiny screen, spend $35 on a Chromecast and show them on an the nearest flat screen TV. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @ResponsiblyWild.