I’ve had my Google Chromecast for a couple of days now. I’ve unboxed it for YouTube, and I’ve written up a lengthy review for Answers.com. To summarize, by and large, it’s a great little device. In some ways not as useful as the Roku yet (in particular, no Amazon Prime or local media streaming), in other ways it blows the little black box right out of the water.
One of the Chromecast’s biggest advantages is when it comes to searching media. With the Roku, and many other devices like it, you have to plink your title into the search one letter at a time, as if you were playing an old-school video arcade game and entering your initials. But with the Chromecast, you just search the content exactly as if you were going to view it through your smartphone or tablet, then tap an icon and boom. You can even queue up YouTube videos and watch more than one in a row.
Another neat thing is that, since it’s just a dumb streaming device, the account information resides with the phone or tablet, not the ‘cast. So you don’t have to worry about the movie your guest wants to watch affecting your own personal profile and recommendations. If they have their own smartphone, they can show whatever films they like without affecting yours.
Of course, the Chromecast isn’t exactly very useful for e-reading, unless it’s reading within a Chrome browser tab that you stream to the set. But it’s remarkable how easy it makes playing music or movies from Google and a few other services. And if the Plex media server develops Chromecast compatibility, as recent developments hint, it could get even better.
In any event, it’s a really cool little gadget, and I’m glad I have it.