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Sunday, 1 June 2014

Chromecast Review

Well, look at that Google finally graced us with the pleasure of buying there "new" to Australia anyway, Chromecast, yep you can finally buy it through the Google Play store, on this occasion I bought my unit from Dick Smith, I must commend the Dick Smith online store, I ordered the Chromecast at about 1.00pm I guess and it was delivered at about 3.00pm the next day, so well done Dick Smith online store very prompt service indeed!

The Chromecast is a "USB flash drive sized" media centre well sort of, it's a nifty little gadget that can link to your wireless network and cast video files and music files to your TV via a HDMI input. I have used MythTV for years, it's the best media centre you can't buy, but I love gadgets, I love cheap but quality gadgets the most lol. I have tested it playing a Google Movies free movie I got with my nexus and it really does work fine.

Apps for the Chromecast are not that prevalent, yet, though more and more relevant apps are enabling the Google Cast feature into their apps and the Google Chrome Browser has an extension that can cast the Browser's screen to your TV, think about that, it means anything the browser can view, you shoiuld be able to cast that view to your TV as one guy said it was very handy when explaining how to do something web related to his Grandfather, you can't use the mouse, but the browser viewer is large. The Youtube Chromecast app is excellent.

Google Music plays just fine and has a fireplace visualization that "fires" up after a few seconds from memory, haven't timed it though lol. I wonder if they have a different visualization for summer as it's winter in Oz at the moment...the fireplace is nice!

Apparently there is a Netflix app and of course there is a work around to be able to access Netflix, I will look into this and report back when I do it.

At the moment I am trying a Chromecast app that does a bit of DLNA, Facebook, Google photos casting called Avia, it looks promising but it's a little buggy and only plays certain video files, too many types are not properly supported, some files will play video but no sound, some video file types will just throw an error on Avia and won't play at all, I really would like a decent DLNA app that just picks up your network files that are served with DLNA. Yes of course I can just play the files over the network normally, with my setup I just play them through DLNA on my Panasonic PLASMA TV, the casting though gives me some nice options and for about $50 for the Chromecast, I can live with the lack of needed features for now!

If you have a PLEX media Server on your PC or NAS you are in luck, you can cast your files from a PLEX app for Chromecast, so for now I would still recommend it as I'm sure some people will be able to take advantage of the full suite of features.

Edit: I run Zoneminder for Camera surveillance I just realised the app "tinyCam Monitor Pro" has the ability to cast the live camera image on the big screen TV, I paid for the Pro version so I'm not sure if the casting is available on the free version, you can get the app from the link below, the link is to the Pro Version :)

Here's some info on setting up Chromecast for Netflix with a ASUS RT-N66U wireless router on stock firmaware

Here's some info on setting up Chromecast for Netflix with a Gargoyle firmware Router