Google’s hardware is generally marked by two hallmarks: it’s got great software, and it’s dirt cheap. Witness Google’s massive overhaul of the Nexus 7, already one of the best tablets out there, which turns up the resolution of the screen, overhauls the processor, adds dual stereo speakers, and a rear-facing camera, for $230.
But the big news of today’s Google’s press event was Google making another bid for control of your TV, with the Chromecast. And this time, it might just work.
The Chromecast is essentially Google trying to streamline your video viewing experience. It’s built on Chrome instead of Android to make it platform-agnostic, and it’s… well… it’s essentially everything people have been saying online video needs.
Here’s the basic idea: say you’re watching a YouTube video on your laptop, and you feel the need to show the whole room the dog farting, or whatever. You click a “Cast” button, and it pops up on your TV. Really. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Even better, you don’t need a remote. Got a phone or tablet? Any phone or tablet, iOS, Android, whatever? Chromecast uses it as your remote, and if you leave the room, it just finds another device to act as a remote. Which is neat, although we suspect a dedicated remote will be coming sooner rather than later.
Installation boils down to “Plug this thing into an HDMI slot.” It’s already working with Google’s services, will be integrated with Pandora, and will work with Netflix. Google, being Google, is likely already working with other streaming video companies to get that cast button installed. They’re also working with other set-top box manufacturers to get it installed in their gear.
But if you want one, you can just go buy one. Right now. For $35.
It’s pretty difficult to see how this thing won’t sell like hotcakes. It solves a lot of streaming video problems, it’s dirt cheap, it’s built to work with the stuff you own already, and one suspects support will be fairly rapidly coming from other services and manufacturers.
It’s also a pretty huge slap in Apple’s face, as Chromecast is going to give Apple some pretty serious problems in an area it’s already struggling in. The video streaming war just got that much more interesting. We’ll be getting Chromecast in short order and we’ll let you know how it works.