TV boxes are nothing new, with
companies like Rokku, TiVo, Apple and even Google itself competing
with their own TV boxes, attempting to connect your large screen TV
to the Internet. In the case of Google TV, it was not a huge success
and we haven't seen much updates lately. But today, the company
introduced a brand new device which may just make Google TV, and all
previous TV boxes, obsolete. Chromecast is a tiny $35 stick which can
be plugged into the back of your large screen and broadcast Internet
content for you. It uses technology different from previous products,
and that may be key to its success.
Most boxes like the Apple TV allow you
to stream content from one device to the next. For example, if you
have a tablet and watch a movie, then want to send that movie to your
large screen TV, the iPad can use AirPlay to stream the content from
the portable device to the Apple TV directly. But Chromecast doesn't
work like that. Instead, you simply send a command from your tablet,
phone, PC or other device to the Chromecast telling it to fetch the
media directly from the Internet. That means you're not just
mirroring your phone on your TV, you're fetching the high quality
media directly from the web.
This distinction allows a couple of
nice features. First, unlike previous TV boxes which were restricted
on which devices can control them, the Chromecast can accept commands
from any Chrome browser. That means as long as it runs Chrome, any
device can control your Chromecast, from a PC to an Android phone or
an iPad. Then, you also aren't limited in the selection of content.
Not only can you stream Netflix or YouTube on Chromecast, but you can
also display any Chrome tab on it, meaning that you can view any web
page, image or video from the Internet. And at $35, the price is
quite attractive, since this is in essence nothing more than a small
hardware key, which you then control from your other device. Both
Google and Amazon started selling the device right after the
announcement, and as of now, they are both out of stock.