Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: ChromeCast (First Impression)

I have been using Google's ChromeCast for a few weeks now. I bought it to display my desktop to my TV. It does not exactly do that but has a function sufficient for me. Overall, I really enjoy it and was pretty simple to set up. It connects to the TV via an HDMI port. Now there is even less reason to have a Smart TV feature. There are limited apps that display videos on my phone (Motorola Droid RAZR) to the TV and seem to work much better than the desktop version.


There are a few minor cons to ChromeCast. The lag is kind of annoying. Besides that, the others are rather minor. I have not played with Apple TV or Roku.

One odd thing is that you need a mobile phone (maybe tablet too) to do the initial setup. I could not set it up through my desktop. The initial setup is to connect the ChromeCast device to your wireless router. Once set, I installed the ChromeCast addin to Google Chrome. Once installed, an icon will appear near the configuration button.

The desktop limitation is that it can only share the browser (Chrome to be specific) not my desktop but I just wanted it to watch streams so good enough. Another problem was that the video did not transpose to my TV properly. It displayed larger than the TV. The problem was actually a setting on the TV where I had to set the video to exact dimensions instead of stretch.

Another con is that the TV is not as sharp as my monitor. I have been testing ChromeCast by watching Twitch stream, StarCraft II WCS America Season 2. The scores and metrics do not appear on the TV clearly even when I stand right next to the TV. It is somewhat blurry. It is readable but not as sharp which may be that Twitch does not stream HD (or at least the channel). The reason is that when watching Cosmos on Youtube through my phone, it does seem much clearer and crisper although the text is much larger so not exactly a perfect comparison.

The most annoying con is that the video lags at random points of time for the browser. When there are lag spikes, portions of the video is smudged and at times pauses completely. I am not sure exactly what causes the lag. There are no new apps running on the PC when streaming, and there is nothing taking up the wireless bandwidth. This problem does not seem to exist when playing videos from my Droid RAZR. The desktop Chrome addin is in beta so I have high hopes this will be corrected at some point.



Looks interesting, but unfortunately, I am still running ICS. Perhaps this is a sign that I need a new phone.