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Google Chromecast

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On July 24, along with the new version of Android 4.3, Google introduced a new unusual device Google Chromecast. If the announcement of Android 4.3 was expected for a long time, the appearance of the Chromecast turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Surprisingly, Google managed to prevent leaks about the new device almost until the announcement. In addition, in complete secrecy, they managed not only to manufacture, but also to ship large batches of these devices to stores. The Chromecast appeared in the Google Play store almost simultaneously with the announcement. I, on the other hand, decided to buy it from Amazon’s online store. It showed up there in the afternoon (Pacific time) and I was among the first customers. The next day, July 25th, Amazon shipped the purchase and another day later, July 26th, I became the owner of the Google Chromecast.
So what is the Google Chromecast? It is a small device (dongle, whistle, etc.) that connects to the HDMI input of the TV or receiver and is able to play content (videos, music, photos). Chromecast does not have its own interface or external controls (except for the reset button). To control it, you need an Android, iOS device or Chrome browser (Windows or Mac), as well as a Chromebook Pixel, on the same network as the dongle. No Mac or Chromebook at home, so all experiments were done with Samsung Galaxy SIII, Apple iPod, Chrome for Windows and Panasonic TC-P55GT30 TV.
There are a lot of pictures in the continuation under the cat.

Packaging and bundling

The box with the device is quite small, about 12cm x 12cm. In the box, besides the dongle itself, there is an HDMI extension cable, USB cable, power supply and a small manual. Why do you need a power adapter? Is it really impossible to power the device via HDMI? Unfortunately, it is not. The HDMI specifications say that there is a 5V voltage on pin 18 of the connector, but the current is limited to only 50 mA, which is obviously not enough to power more or less serious peripherals.
The appearance of the box
Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

On the cover there is a brief instruction on how to connect and set up
Google Chromecast

All accessories
Google Chromecast

Dongle appearance
Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

Micro USB connector, LED and reset button
Google Chromecast

HDMI connector
Google Chromecast

Connecting and configuring

The connection is pretty simple – just plug the dongle into the HDMI jack and plug in the power. Since the TV has USB connectors, I decided to power the Chromecast through them. However, nothing good came out of this, since the dongle would not start. I had to power it from the power adapter. To set it up you have to type in your browser address given by Google on the box and download the Chromecast app. I used Chromecast App for Android for the initial setup.
The setup process is pretty original. At the initial boot (or after a reset) the dongle turns into a Wi-Fi access point, which is detected by the application running on the laptop or on the phone (tablet). The phone (tablet, laptop) automatically connects to this network as well. Then, via the app, the access data to the home network (SSID, encryption type, password) is transmitted to the dongle which uses the received data to connect to the home network.
Connected dongle
Google Chromecast

TV screen on initial startup (or after Chromecast reset)
Google Chromecast

The Android app has detected a Wi-Fi access point that is in the dongle.
Google Chromecast
There is a Wi-Fi connection between the dongle and the phone
Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast
You can set a specific name for Chromecast, and then if there are several devices in the network, it will be easier to choose the right one
Google Chromecast
At this point, we enter the details of our Wi-Fi network so that Chromecast will be able to connect to it.
Google Chromecast
Setup complete
Google Chromecast
Google Chromecast

When setting it up, keep in mind that all devices must be in the same Wi-Fi network. The second point is that Chromecast only works in the 2.4 GHz band, it does not see Wi-Fi networks in the 5 GHz band.

Using

Currently, only 3 Android apps support Chromecast – YouTube, Netflix and Google Play. All of the apps have no problem enabling streaming on Chromecast. The fastest music switching is in Play Music. YouTube streaming comes on in 3-4 seconds, and Netflix takes the longest to switch – about 6-7 seconds. This is because the video stream is cached during the switch.
The Chromecast icon is noticeable in the lower right corner, clicking on it turns broadcasting on and off.
Google Chromecast
Google Chromecast

The YouTube app for iOS works similarly and no problems were noticed when using it.
For use with Chrome browser you have to install Chromecast Extension from the Chrome Web Store extension store. This extension provides 2 modes of operation: broadcasting a single bookmark or broadcasting the entire screen. In addition to these modes, you can enable/disable sound broadcasting. My observations on these modes: broadcasting a single bookmark significantly reduces framerate, so watching video in this bookmark in this mode is impossible. When transmitting the whole screen frame rate does not fell or fell slightly, but I have not managed to broadcast the sound. This mode is said to be experimental, maybe in future versions of Chromecast Extension this problem will be solved.
The broadcast mode on/off button is surrounded by a red frame.
Google Chromecast
When using YouTube and Netflix and trying to enable broadcast mode, the Chromecast Extension warns that it is better to use the broadcast button from the player itself. Indeed, there is a new button in the YouTube player that enables broadcast mode.
Google Chromecast

Conclusion

In brief, I liked the idea and implementation of Chromecast. There are some small rough edges (lack of broadcasting from the desktop Chrome browser sound in full screen mode), but I’m sure that they will be fixed soon.

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