Chromecast is not just “a cheap Apple TV for Android,” but much much more.  As Apple TV is a completion of Apple’s ecosystem (iOS devices, content from iTunes), Chromecast is a completion of Google’s ecosystem (Android devices, content from Google Play, tab casting from Google Chrome browser and Chrome OS).

Yes, Chromecast offers something magnificent that Apple TV doesn’t offer: tab casting of contents of tabs of Google Chrome browser to your HDMI-equipped TV or monitor. In other words, if you have Chrome Browser on your Windows PC or Mac, you can stream the contents from the individual tabs of your Chrome browser to your TV!

A mind-boggling example: Chrome Remote Desktop extension from a tab in Chrome browser, via Chromecast’s Chrome extension, a remotely connnected Windows 8 to a TV screen:

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Note: it runs smoothly! So you can actually forget things like GoToMyPC and instead  use Chrome for everything.

So much for the introduction, let’s review this thing.

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What is Chromecast? Simply speaking, it’s an HDMI dongle powered by micro-USB cable.

Below are some photos of Chromecast together with the latest Apple TV device:

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Here is clooseup on micro-USB and button and LED:

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To configure Chromecast you need to download the Chromecast App for Windows PC or Mac here: www.google.com/chromecast/setup.

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This app is available  for Android, obviously, but not for iOS yet (iOS however as the only non-Android platform that supports video streaming via Chromecast inside of Netflix and YouTube apps).

What is most amazing for me is tab casting, where you can view a tab from your Chrome browser on your TV, no matter what is in that tab (even if it is remote computer like in the first screenshot on this page). However, you can do video casting directly from videos embedded on websites (for now only on YouTube):

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To update Chromecast with new firmware when a new version is available you have to disconnect power and connect again. However version number is visible only in Chromecast App (for Windows e.g.) not on the TV display.

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From the point of view of Android users, indeed Chromecast is a mini-Apple-TV. Users can play movies from Google Play on the large screen, or play YouTube and Netflix videos on their TVs.

For iOS users, only YouTube and Netflix apps have support for Chromecast. If Chrome for iOS would offer tab casting, this would be revolutionary! (But it’s unlikely to happen soon as Chrome for Android and Chrome for iOS don’t support Chrome extensions and tab casting requires Chrome extension).

One could imagine that Chromecast is a perfect device for people who need to give presentations – then with use of local WiFi network or with the use of mobile hotspot, those people can beam via tab casting (Chrome has built-in PDF viewer too) the presentations, without the need to worry how physically close to the beamer/projector they are located.

Conclusion

Chromecast is a revolutionary device for many reasons, but for me mostly two reasons: 1) the incredibly low price of $35, and 2) tab casting from Chrome for Windows and Mac. It doesn’t support (yet) screen mirroring like Apple TV does (and iOS devices do it via hardware) but for video streaming and tab casting, it’s a bliss.

To get Chromecast or to learn more about at source, click here:
www.google.com/chromecast.