July 6, 2014
Created by Google, the Chromecast is a device that lets you wirelessly send the content on your PC, tablet or smartphone to your television. It’s a very basic device and costs just US$35, i.e. around RM115. Unfortunately, it is not officially available in Malaysia yet – I got mine in Akihabara, Tokyo.
How It Works
You simply plug the HDMI end of the dongle into your tv’s HDMI port, and connect the micro USB end to a power supply – either a USB port on your tv or using the supplied power adapter.
The next step is to download the Chromecast app to your PC/tablet/phone – there’s an app for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android respectively. When you start the app on your PC/tablet/phone, it will discover the Chromecast and prompt you to set it up, by connecting both your machine and the Chromecast to the same Wifi.
Finally, you’ll be prompted to install Chromecast apps and extensions to enable the dongle to work. You see, unlike Apple’s AirPlay, the ability to “cast” is app-dependent – this is the biggest weakness of the device. Currently, there are only a handful of apps that support the Chromecast, e.g. Google’s Chrome, YouTube and Netflix. There are also more supported tablet/smartphone apps (especially Android-based) than PC apps.
Once connected, the Chromecast icon will be enabled in a supported app – see example below, i.e. the Netflix app on a Samsung Note 10.1.
The second biggest problem with the Chromecast is that it uses Google’s own DNS. There is no way to set your own DNS via the basic Chromecast app, so proxy services like Playmo.tv cannot be used here. The only way to get apps like Netflix to work with Chromecast is by setting the DNS on your router – not all routers have this feature. Some users get around this by installing custom firmwares like DD-WRT on their router. But be warned that this method should only by performed by advanced users because there’s a risk of brick-ing your router.
Another problem is that most current Chromecast support on 3rd party apps are still at an experimental stage. What this means is that you may experience problems like video with no audio, or unstable connections – even with Google’s own Chrome browser.
In a nutshell, there is currently very limited practical use of Google’s Chromecast and especially so in Malaysia, unless your intention is just to beam YouTube videos or surf the Internet using Chrome on your tv. My personal advice is to hold out until Google releases a new firmware that enables you to set your own DNS and for app developers to provide better support.
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