The new Google Chromecast device is shown on Wednesday, in San Francisco. Photo: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Google has presented Chromecast, a new gadget that brings content from any mobile device (videos, music, photos, games and even streaming services) directly to an HD TV. The tiny dongle plugs into a TV's HDMI input and uses a WiFi connection to access content on computers, smartphones or tablets within the local network, regardless of their operating system.
While Chromecast picks up content from any mobile device to present it on the TV, users can continue to use other applications on their mobile device. The smartphone or tablet even comes in handy as a convenient remote for adjusting the volume or pausing playback.
In terms of streaming platforms, Chromecast currently supports YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music and Netflix (in countries where the service is offered). In addition, a new feature in Chrome allows users to display a tab open in the browser on the TV.
Chromecast is compatible with devices running Windows (7 and above), Mac OS (10.7), iOS (6), Android (2.3) and of course Chrome OS. The maximum resolution for images viewed through the device is 1080p.
This new solution is similar to Apple TV, only simpler, less expensive and more universal. It will also step up competition for broadband triple-play operators, who are focusing more and more on providing multi-screen content platforms. In fact, the only disadvantage with Chromecast is that it is not compatible with non-HD TVs.
Chromecast is now available in the US at $35 and will be launched in other markets later this year.