- Turns your TV into a Smart TV!
- Supports multiple Chromecasts on the same network
- HDMI CEC
- No dedicated remote control
- Can be slow to sync up at first
- Overall app support could be better
- Needs a power supply which adds bulk
This is actually a hard one to gauge. There is no user interface as such and no remote control. Performance in terms of "does it work" won't tell you much (yes it does work by the way) but it's only as good as the apps that support it.
My main test subjective has been the Now TV app which natively supports the Chromecast. Performance on the whole is good but every so often the app will think it's no longer connected (although the video is still streaming).
So is this a problem with the Chromecast or the NOW TV app? I suspect it's the app but it's hard to say.
What does seem a little on the slow side is the time it takes to first sync with an app. It's a task that feels like it should be pretty much instant but unfortunately you have to wait a good few seconds for that initial connection.
Whether I was using my computer or tablet, it can take several seconds to get both devices talking to each other. This happened across different apps as well so this time I do believe it's more the Chromecast hardware that's a little slow in this respect.
However, once connected it was fine and much quicker to respond when loading a new video or fast forwarding through the content.
Chromecast app support
There are many apps with native built-in support for the Chromecast. A few of the headliners are apps such as Netflix, YouTube, iPlayer and NOW TV.
However there are also a few notable exceptions. The Amazon Prime Instant Video app doesn't support the Chromecast. I don't know if Amazon have plans to support it in future but the fact Amazon have their own Fire TV dongle which is basically the same as a Chromecast, it seems unlikely.
One thing I was really looking forward to casting was my pictures and videos from my phone. This seems like one of the most obvious and basic features such a device would support so I opened up the Google Photos app expecting to see the little cast icon but to my surprise it doesn't support the Chromecast?
Digging a bit deeper, I found out you can cast your photos/videos if you've uploaded them to your Google Drive account, but it doesn't work for local files on your device.
I'm not sure if this is a cynical attempt by Google to get more people to use Google Drive to upload photos and videos (in an attempt to ultimately sell more storage space) or if this is a feature that will eventually appear in an update?
Android Lollipop – built-in casting
If you plan to use an Android device as your primary means of casting and you're lucky enough to have Android Lollipop installed then you'll have fullscreen casting built right in.
This means you can cast absolutely anything on your smartphone or tablet whether an app supports it or not. It basically mirrors your screen.
Sounds great! Well it is, but there is one slight annoyance. Casting the full screen, literally means casting everything. This includes the top status bar (Network, Wi-Fi, Battery status etc.) and the bottom navigation controls.
I couldn't find an option to remove these top and bottom bars which is shame as they can take you out of the moment if you're watching a movie or playing a slideshow of your photos.
Thankfully the Chromecast comes equipped with HDMI CEC. If you don't know what HDMI CEC is, don't worry it's nothing complicated and simply means if you're watching another channel/source on your TV, turning on the Chromecast will automatically switch your TV to the correct input without you having to lift a finger!
The Chromecast is a product that ultimately will live or die based on the quality of apps that use and support it.
The Chromecast is really just a middle-man, a wireless gateway into your TV and for that alone it does an admiral job.
This is why it's fairly inexpensive as it doesn't need to do a lot of processing itself, most of the heavy lifting is handled by the device you're casting content from.
Even though app support is a little hit and miss in places, the apps that do support the Chromecast work well.
It's hard to say who is at fault when a problem occurs. I've run into issues where an app says the connection has been lost but the video is still playing on my TV. I had to re-establish connection before I could control the video again. Now was the app to blame or the Chromecast?
Ultimately though, this is a great bit of kit and a truly cheap way of bringing video streaming to your TV without having to buy a brand new TV.
With no interface or remote control, ironically the Chromecast itself is a little 'dumb' but pair it up with a smartphone or tablet and you'll soon realise why the Chromecast is an absolute bargain!
8 / 10 (Very Good)
|BUY Google Chromecast here|
|Chromecast (2015)||£30 & FREE Standard Delivery|
*Prices correct at the time of writing