With the help of a colleague who was in the United States on a working trip, I got my hands on a Chromecast dongle last year.
Google's media streaming dongle was not available in Singapore then. At just US$35 (S$48), this thumb-sized device was both cheap and easy to bring home from the US.
But I soon discovered that the Chromecast is not that useful outside certain markets. The dongle plugs into your TV's HDMI port and streams content from the Internet to the TV.
It has no internal storage to store videos or music. So, it relies heavily on streaming apps, such as HBO Go and Netflix, neither of which is officially available here. Google does not sell music or videos here, so I could not stream media from the Google Play Store. Basically, YouTube is the only useful app.
The other major Chromecast feature is screen mirroring.
When the Chromecast is connected to a network with other devices, you can send screen content from a computer (via a Chrome browser plug-in) or supported mobile device to the Chromecast. This content would then be shown on a TV. It is so convenient for showing your photos and videos on a big screen at a family gathering.
The device itself is simple to set up. It draws power via USB so plug one end of the included USB cable to the Chromecast and the other end to a spare USB port on your TV. Use the bundled wall charger if your TV has no USB port.
Connect the Chromecast to your TV's HDMI port and follow the onscreen instructions. A computer or mobile device (iOS or Android) is required to complete the set-up.
A recent addition: Guest Mode lets users connect to the Chromecast without having to be on the same network by entering a PIN instead.
Singtel is selling the Chromecast for $65, almost two years after its US launch and for a higher price than in the US.
To be fair, there are more apps now, including games that you can play with the Chromecast and your mobile device.
But many TV streaming apps remain US-centric. Those who love anime should check out Crunchyroll, while Viki is worth checking out if you are into Asian shows.
If you have videos on your computer or mobile device, use the Videostream app (Android and Chrome browser) to stream them to the TV with the Chromecast.
But I am already looking forward to an updated version of the dongle - perhaps, one that supports the faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.
Those who wanted a Chromecast would have bought one by now. Still, it is a cheap and portable media streaming dongle which has its uses.
Wireless standard: 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz)
Supported platforms: Android 2.3 and higher, iOS 7.0 and higher, Windows 7 and higher, OS X 10.7 and higher, Chrome OS
Value for money 2/5
This article was first published on Apr 8, 2015.
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