Google is making a serious play to be your streaming media device of choice with the release of the Google Chromecast. The diminutive device is a little larger than a pack of gum and plugs directly into an HDMI input on either an HDTV or AVR (Audio Visual Receiver). It’s powered by a USB connection that either gets plugged into the included charger or into your TV/AVR. Here’s how to setup Chromecast on Mac, PC and iOS.
Before we get started, let’s go through a few requirements:
- HDTV with HDMI input
- A spare outlet within reach of your TV or USB jack that can power a device
While the Chromecast can work through on more complex home entertainment set-ups that include an audio visual receiver, I opted to keep things simple at the start, working directly with a TV. It’s important to note that the Chromecast can be moved once you set it up.
Setting Up Chromecast Using Mac or PC
There is no iOS setup app, which may come at some time, but setup is easily done on any Mac or PC. The Chromecast comes with an AC Adapter that connects at the top of the device. You can connect it to your TV by plugging into any free HDMI port. On your remote control, be sure to select the input that matches where it has been inserted.
On your Mac or PC, click here to download the Chromecast app. You can also choose a browser based setup by visiting google.com/chromecast/setup on Google Chrome for iOS. Both processes are similar. I’ve included a screenshots from what you can expect from an iOS setup. While the focus of this tutorial uses a Mac, the process is similar.
The app should start downloading. On a Mac, you’ll see a window pop-up. Drag the app into the Applications alias, directly to the right of the app. This installs the app on your Mac.
At this point, you should have your Chromecast plugged into your TV, the HDMI set to the correct input and the Chromecast installed on your computer. Launch the app to start the final steps in the process. The PC/Mac must be on the same network.
Once you launch the app, it should find your newly acquired streaming device. It will have a nondescript name like Chromecast8959. Select your network from the list of available wireless networks and input your password. At this point, you can change the name of your device, helpful if you plan on having multiple Chromecasts throughout your house.
The Chromecast will now attempt to successfully connect to your network.
In a matter of seconds, you should see a message on your television that says you are ready to cast. You’ll be able to cast from an assortment of devices to your TV.
Chromecasting Using PC or Mac
The Chromecast allows you to stream content from a Chrome web browser, provided you have the Cast extension installed. This allows you to easily bring any web content from your computer to your television. This is particularly useful for watching content being held hostage on the web.
Using Your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch
With Chromecast, your iOS device becomes the controller and right now it’s primarily a cheap Netflix or YouTube streamer. That is until we see more iOS apps that support casting. When launching a program in either program will result in a prompt offering the option to playback on either your iOS device or your Chromecast. Video playback from either service is on par with other streaming devices, including the Apple TV.
Should I buy a Chromecast?
It all depends. At $35, it’s cheap. With that price comes a number of limitations. There is no physical remote and that’s often central to a TV-watching experience. For iOS users, your app choices are limited to YouTube and Netflix. Both of which are available on the Apple TV, which offers a number of other channels including HBO Go and support for Airplay. I’ve often called it a no-brainer iPhone accessory at $99. A less expensive option to the Apple TV is Roku, which now offers Airplay-like features. The lure of Chromecast is the price and promise of future iOS apps. Casting from a Chrome browser also offers some benefit, allowing you to bring content from the web to your TV with ease. Content providers have gone out of their way to prevent you from bringing content from the web to your television, so it’ll be interesting to see if some find a way to block casting. Owning both a Roku and Apple TV, my main use for the Chromecast has been casting Showtime Anytime. It’s allowed me to watch Homeland, but it’s been a far from perfect experience. My MacBook Air is literally on fire after each episode and the video stream is a bit janky.
Are you a Chromecaster? What have been your experiences? Share with us in the comments or on the forums.