Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Chromecast versus the Apple TV

I got the Chromecast to compare with the Apple TV

For a while now I have been having some problems with my Apple TV. To be honest, I think the problems are more to do with the network and the way it is working within the house rather than the actual Apple TV itself. Quite often what I have to do is I have to go into the general settings and then into network and reset the automatic settings for ethernet on the Apple TV. This is usually because the video I wanted to watch has declined to play and after doing this little reset trick it usually works again. The Google Chromecast has just become available here in Spain at the same time as in other countries including the UK and I had been wanting to give it a try anyway. So I thought why not have a look. It worked out at €35 to buy it and at the same time I also bought a wireless, induction charger for my Nexus 7. Not really too happy with the charger at the moment, but then that is another story.

No instructions in the box for the Chromecast

Really, when you consider it there shouldn't need to be any instructions for the Chromecast from Google, as all you need to do is to go online and to find the information that you require. I fully approve of this because I don't see any reason why we should cut down any more trees just to put unnecessary pieces of paper in with our purchases. It didn't take me too long to initially get the thing working although there was a seemingly lengthy download that was required to update the device before I could even do anything at all with it.
The first thing that I wanted to do was to try and play some videos that I have on my Nexus 7 through the Chromecast onto the TV. It seemed to me that it would be something that the Chromecast should be able to do and I only found out later that I would be able to do that through an App called LocalCast. So today is the second day of having the Google Chromecast and when I got back home from work I decided to switch on the TV and see what I could organise. I had done a little bit more research and found that there are a number of applications that are made to work with Chromecast. These applications are for use on your desktop computer within your Chrome browser and also applications that work on your Android devices. I still haven't got around to trying them all out yet. The one that I have been having some success with so far is the Plex application and I have been running that on my desktop computer, an iMac. I have been able to watch some videos / movies from folders of my hard drive without any difficulty at all. I got a nice smooth play of the movie with no buffering problems and I was quite happy to have got it working.

Using the Plex media server

I still haven't fully got into understanding all of the things that Plex is able to do, but the main thing is that you download and install the Plex media server software. When you have this done you can set up your library of videos. It is not completely intuitive the way that it works. On the Nexus 7 there is also an application called Plex Remote and that is another one that I have not been able to make work as yet. It seems that the best thing for me to do is to work out these things one by one and gradually build up my knowledge of how all of this functions as a system.

Using the Chromecast to display photos and play music

I found an application for the Android platform called AllCast and with this I was able to go into my photos gallery, this time on my Samsung Galaxy S3 and to send these images to my TV. I was looking to see if I can find a way that I could select a number of these and have them do a slideshow going from picture to picture. I did get to see the pictures one by one but still I'm looking to find an application that allows me to do that slideshow thing with all of the photos within a folder. Using this same AllCast I was able to send music from the Galaxy S3 play on the television.

The verdict so far on Chromecast

I still have a lot of things that I need to work out and so this will be just the first article in a series of articles as I find out more on how it all works. I have managed to get videos, music and photographs showing up on my TV, so I can confirm that it does actually work. I haven't found the whole process completely intuitive and I am sure that there should be more applications developed that allow the use of Chromecast. I see that there is work being done at the moment as evidenced by a beta app giving functionality of complete mirroring of your desktop. That is something that you get with the Apple TV, that I found to be easy and worth having. I feel sure that Google will be looking to give us a similar set of facilities that we can use Chromecast for demonstrations and presentations.

Try one out - Why not?

Keep your eye out on this website for some more posts on how to get the best from Chromecast as I work out for myself what is possible and where there are some difficulties. For the price I think that the device is marvellous and I would recommend trying one out.

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