17

Aug

What is all the fuss about the Google Chromecast Dongle?


google chromecast dongle

What is all the fuss about the Google Chromecast Dongle?

If you are not the proud owner of a Google chromecast dongle, then you probably have no idea or just a vague idea of what it is. Don’t worry, this short post will tell you in clear English language what the fuss is all about.

 

I often find that many people take too many things for granted and forget that the other person who they are talking to may need to be grounded on some fundamental facts first, before they can understand the rest of your conversation. I aim to do this here…

 

The famous dongle that you have seen carried by many retail stores ie. Best Buy, Costco or online stores such as Groupon, Amazon may have remained a mystery for you. Basically, this unit is designed to plug into the back of your TV HDMI input since the dongle has an HDMI plug with all the nice built-in electronics inside the head of the device.

 

Okay, so you have purchased this product for about $30 bucks and plugged it into one of your free HDMI inputs on your TV, now what? This is where it gets very interesting as well as extremely useful when you become acquainted with the device features. But first a quick brief history snippet, so you will know how this ‘thing’ fits into the space of Google world.

 

Google happens to own one of the biggest operating system out there called ‘Android’ that powers millions of smartphones and competes directly with Apple phones. They also own one of the most popular browsers called ‘Chrome’ and is available on all the operating systems such as Windows, Mac, Android etc. Many people have come to love this product and for many the preferred way of browsing the internet on their tablets, laptops and PC. Ok, so what has this to do with the Google dongle, you say? This is where Google tries to bridge the gap between your viewing device ie the humble TV with your laptops, smartphones and tablets.

 

The word ‘Chromecast’ gives an idea of it’s functionality. Basically, since this is a proprietary Google device (the dongle), Google has given you the ability to ‘cast’ your Chrome browser content to your TV! It does this simply by putting your Google dongle hooked to your wi-fi with a unique ID that the chrome browser recognizes and connects to. This allows your Chrome browser to cast the content of your browser window to the dongle device once they are linked via your wi-fi. How easy is that! However, as you can guess, you will need to download an extension called ‘Chromecast’ for the Chrome browser to achieve this.

 

If you have come to this point of the article without much trouble, then you will likely get the rest of the article and see the great benefits of this device. When you first hook-up your Google dongle, you will need to download the Google chrome extension for your browser. This allows your browser to detect the Google dongle and make that link to your TV via the dongle. You will be provided with a unique Chromecast ID that identifies your device on the wi-fi network. The confusion happens where Google refers to both the Dongle and the Chromecast extension as simply ‘Chromecast’. Now come on please, don’t confuse the users with the same name, even if these exist under different headings. People don’t pay attention to headings any more, unless they are reading a gripping chapter on a murder, mystery novel!

 

google playstore chromecast

.

You may ask, why go to all that trouble when you can hook up your laptop with an HDMI cable and cast your screen that way? It’s basically convenience.

In this setup, there are no trailing long HDMI cables to deal with and you can instantly ‘cast’ your laptop content to the TV without much hassle. However, the benefit goes beyond just this.

 

It is no surprise that the more you play with your device, the more useful stuff that you will wring out of it. The other day, I was playing with my Android settings on my smartphone and found in the Display settings a tab called ‘Cast screen’. So being curious, I selected this and voila, my entire Android phone cast the whole device screen onto the TV. The next few minutes was sheer pleasure where I entertained my 18 months daughter with all the photos and videos that I had stored on the phone. The quality was as good as on the phone. Naturally, this would be great when you want to share your photos with other folks in the room. The possibilities are endless. It surprises me that there is very little documentation of how folks are using the chromecast, ok maybe in YouTube but Google could have easily created better documentation and brochures for this great product. However, in my opinion its the minimalist approach of Google to throw out the product and gather info from its usage to test market first. A good marketing strategy where they can shape and improve on their product as time goes on. After all, they run the biggest search engine in the world by far and all they need to do is figure out how everyone is using their chromecast by tapping into their own resource!

 

.

Here are other ways I am using this dongle and would love to hear from others on how they are using it.

 

  1. Cast Netflix, Youtube from tablet or laptop – You get no loss of resolution for those of you that are wondering.
  2. Cast phone or tablet to your TV – I find this to be huge and an instant attraction for many family events and gathering.
  3. Chromecast extensions and applications – Google is working on a few applications and one of those is Video-stream which I use to cast local videos from my laptop or tablet. You can also cast images, PDFs and music.



Leave a Reply