Chromecast: a whanau review ‘one of the greatest little devices around’

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chromecast

(Review by Cheryl & BenManley)

As far asChristmas holidays go, ours was made that much better due to Google’s latest little device to hit Aotearoa: The Chromecast.

Beware. This tiny device, a little bigger than a standard memory stick, has the ability to make any whanau sink in the living room couch a little bit deeper, for that much longer.

The Chromecast is a small device that attaches to the HDMI slot on your average flat screen TV and connects your TV to your home wireless. So yes, if you have inherited your mums old TV that you used to watch Baywatch on while growing up, well you may have a bit of a problem. From here you can send/beam/cast videos and photographs from your device; be it an iPhone, iPad, android, Chromebook, laptop, desktop etc to the TV.

[quote_center]Sure, thats nifty, but what makes this, hand to heart, one of the greatest little devices around is not just its ability to mirror content from your device, but in particular its ability to stream quality video from the internet via your device or desktop/laptop and on to your sitting room TV.[/quote_center]

Heres how the setup works for us:

  1. Our Chromecast is attached to our sitting room TV, powered via the plug not the usb
  2. We use Chrome as our main internet browser on our desktop
  3. We have downloaded and installed the Chrome Cast Extension for the chrome browser
  4. Now we can open a tab in Chrome, and go to any number of movie streaming site, including but not limited to:
    • Youtube.com
    • nzonscreen.com
    • tvnz.co.nz/video

We pick a video, and hit the cast this tab in the top right. The video will now”cast” to the TV.

So now the parentals can enjoy the latest episode of Blacklist or Person of Interest (TVNZ on demand) a few weeks before it hits the tele-v-oh or the hilarious short film Tama Tu (NZ on Screen), while the kids stream kapa haka from Maori Television or bounce through their latest music video playlist on YouTube. If you have a Samsung phone, you can have even more fun.

Feel like watching your Clash of Clans replay on the big screen? Well heres your chance!

However, before you put youre peddle to the metal and head down to the local computer store, there are a few things to consider:

The Cons:
  • The technology is new, and there can be a few stability issues which can leave your movie hanging or Chrome unexpectedly crashing whilst casting a tab off your desktop or laptop, even with the latest updates applied
  • At the time of writing, Sparks online pay service, light box, does not appear to support tab casting
  • Unlike the Samsung and other android devices, iPhone and iPad etc can only cast from within certain applications
  • According to the adverts, you should be able to play movies from your computer hard drive and send them to the Chromecast, however so far the results have been less than impressive
The Pros:
  • At between $57 and $61, the Chromecast is a steal, with the similar (although more feature laden) Apple TV being $ 149, Xbox being $340 and a lower end Smart TV reaching upwards of a thousand dollars. Put simply, the Chromecast is the McDonald Happy Meal equivalent to Apple TV/Xbox/PlayStation/Smart TVs four course meal. All do the same job with online streaming, just in different ways and for different prices
  • Armed with broadband and wireless router, the Chromecast is dead easy to set up in your home
  • The internet is awash in a regular smorgasbord of streaming; films, tv programs and documentaries which will fit everyones taste, no matter the age

And there you have it. Now, following that long cross fit training session after work, you can flick through some Marae repeats or cuddle up with the whanau and watch the Adventures of Puss in Boots when Netflix launches in March!

For our whanau, after 2 months and many days and hours of enjoyment over Christmas and New Years (with the occasional technical hiccups), we give the Chromecast an unreserved 4 and a half out of 5 Kete for great features at an amazing price.

An easy five once google irons out the tab casting function.

About the Author

T & C Manley are a couple of Te Arawa descendants with links to Ngati Whakaue and Ngati Pikiao. Between them they have two degrees in Maori Studies from Waiariki, a graduate degree in teaching from Canterbury and a Masters degree in Indigenous Studies from Otago. Despite the disadvantage of being a little too clever by half, they have both managed to find meaningful employment.

While they have a deep interest in history, technology and issues affecting Maori and other first nations, husband and wife are most happy when at home with their daughter and wider whanau, armed with a good book, a great movie and yummy kai.

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