About ChromeCast

Manufactured by Google, Chromecast is a plug-and-play electronic device that allows you to “cast” content from a variety of supported apps directly to your HDTV. Using a WiFi-enabled device, such as a smartphone or laptop, Chromecast is claimed to be the “easiest way to enjoy online video and music on your TV,” and to offer “everything you love, now on your TV.”
 
Based on numerous reviews we read during our research, Chromecast seems to have a mostly positive online reputation, primarily due to its “bank-for-your-buck” factor. However, some of the most common complaints we encountered included its inability to work with some electronics—including certain WiFi routers and Kindle Fire tablets—that streaming content directly from a Chrome tab is clunky and unreliable, and excessive lag.

How Chromecast Works

Google’s Chromecast is essentially a 2-inch dongle “stick” that connects to your TV via an unused HDMI port, and which allows it to play “movies, TV shows, music, and more from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Google Play Movies and Music, and Chrome” (note: Google Movies and TV are supported for Android users only). The idea behind the Chromecast is relatively simple: In essence, it works just like an antenna, in that it has no built-in capabilities, but instead just captures a signal and routes it into your TV.

According to Google, Chromecast works with all your existing devices, which means you won’t have to learn anything new to use it. Each box includes a Chromecast unit, an HDMI extender cable, and a USB power adapter (yes, this means that your Chromecast requires power in order to operate, which can make it more “clunky” than the promo video makes it appear). In addition, it can be installed and set up in four easy steps:

  1. Plug into any HDTV via an HDMI port, and power it up using the included USB adapter.
  2. Connect to your WiFi signal (be sure to have your password handy).
  3. Download the setup app for your laptop, smartphone, and/or tablet.
  4. After just a few minutes, you should be able to “send videos and more from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to your TV with the press of a button.”

As long as you’re using a supported app, Chromecast will allow you to pause, play, or browse your content, and you can use several units in one network, which will allow you to switch between TVs as needed. Unlike many other set top boxes, Chromecast automatically updates itself, so you won’t have to worry about constantly downloading new software.

While setup and use appear to be relatively quick and easy, there are some downfalls you should keep in mind if you’re thinking about purchasing a Chromecast. First (and this is a big one) despite how the promo video might make it appear, you cannot send your photos, movies, or music directly from your electronic device into the Chromecast—in other words, there is no local media playback. Instead, you’ll access supported apps using your smartphone or tablet, which basically acts as a remote that will allow you to “cast” the content to your TV via the Chromecast. While you do have the ability to “cast” a Google Chrome tab and display it on your TV (which can include embedded movies), we read reports of the process being clunky, and that some file formats did not include supported sound.

Also, we ran into several common complaints about the Chromecast during our research, including its inability to function properly using certain WiFi routers and Kindle Fire tablets, that streaming content directly from a Chrome tab is clunky and unreliable, and excessive lag.

Chromecast Pricing

While you may be able to find the Chromecast for a couple dollars less expensive, it sells for about $35 through most retailers, including Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon.com, and more.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive way to stream some of your favorite programming from your devices to your TV using Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Google Music, and HBO Go.
  • Small, compact design makes it easy to take with you wherever you go.
  • Reports of great image quality.

Cons:

  • Closely priced with the Roku LT, which has many more capabilities.
  • Requires power.
  • Screen mirroring process is clunky.
  • Very little support for content outside the U.S.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a neat little device that can add functionality to your TV—all at a very low price—Chromecast might be a solid purchase. However, it you’re expecting it to perform as well as some of the higher-priced boxes, you’ll likely be disappointed.

Perhaps most importantly though, Chromecast may not be the sleek, inconspicuous gadget that its commercials make it out to be. This is because each unit requires power, which is provided via a USB adapter. As a result, you may have a new wiring dangling from your wall-mounted TV, and a slim-selection of content to outweigh the unsightly inconvenience.

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11 Customer Reviews for ChromeCast

Average Customer Rating: 2.1
Rating Snapshot:
5 stars: 0 4 stars: 3 3 stars: 0 2 stars: 3 1 stars: 5
Bottom Line: 27% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 11
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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    ChromeCast

    • Montville, CT,
    • Jan 4, 2016

    I received the ChromeCast thinking I could use it in my bedroom to cast YouTube and Netflix (I have an account) but after hours I found it does not work and it was a waste of money. I was trying to cast from Chrome with windows 10 and all I kept getting from 2 TV's was a message saying “can't cast”.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • The chromecast device is a rip off.

    • Texas,
    • Dec 28, 2015

    I bought my ChromeCast device when it first came out. It has always been glitchy. Now as of 12/15/2015, it constantly drops connection after 20 minutes of use. I've tried getting help, none is available for the product. With the little help I did find, surmounts to me having to be a programmer, which I'm not. I do not recommend that anyone buy a ChromeCast device.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    In the trash

    • Bradford, NH,
    • Nov 30, 2015

    ChromeCast version 1 just went in the trash. Could not reset it after changing routers. Followed all the directions twice to the letter. Worked pretty well on the old router after a very cloogy​ set up. Would give it no stars, if possible.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Chromecast

    • New York City, USA,
    • Nov 13, 2015

    The Chromecast is horrible! And don't buy it unless you have a good WiFi signal. One day the computer will detect it and the other day it wont! And it does not even work on the phone. However, the Chromecast is very dependable on a good wifi signal. Even if there is WiFi working, it has to be strong enough to support the Chromecast. So, buy it only if you have a very good Wifi signal across the house. Even if the Wifi is average, it will still be dysfunctional.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Nightmare

    • Belfast, Northern Ireland,
    • Oct 30, 2015

    There was no method of contact for help. I want to return it, but the store won't accept opened goods. All I can say is thank God it was cheap. I think it's a pile of rubbish. Totally disgusted. False advertising.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Bought first version, now it doesn't work.

    We bought the first Chromecast about a year ago and it was a great thing to see all our shows. Now after the newest version of Chromecast came out we have nothing but trouble. The new app doesn't work with version 1. Another way to get more money out of people. That is what it comes down to. If anybody can clear this up and make my version 1 Chromecast work, I will write a good review. As of now we have uninstalled the new app and run through the router with great difficulty! Beware, in a couple of years the new one won't probably work either. I have searched for help everywhere. None exists. Shame on you Google!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Almost Worth It

    • Jul 16, 2015

    This product was nice at first but then Netflix stopped working with it and as we all know, Netflix is the main reason we get these quirky devices. I loved it up until Netflix stopped working. Sad I had to return it for a Roku Streaming Stick because the YouTube on the Roku isn't fluid and easy like it is on the Chromecast because when you use your phone or tablet, it's a 1000 times faster. But like I said, I didn't get this device for YouTube, I got it for the Netflix.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Pretty good

    • St. Louis, MO,
    • Jul 15, 2015

    ChromeCast is actually pretty cool. Go on any site the provides free movies and then ChromeCast. Sometimes it may mess up but it is cool. Anyways, go ahead and buy it. But first I would recommend Netflix.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Perfect solution

    • Montana,
    • Jul 11, 2015

    We bought it for a seldom used location. We already subscribe to Netflix and needed to stream it to another TV. The ChromeCast was $10 off through Costco. For a one-time $25 expenses, we were able to eliminate a $60 monthly cable bill. We have no regrets.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Does exactly what I want and expect.

    • Pembroke Pines, FL,
    • Jun 30, 2015

    I downloaded the ChromeCast APP to my son's tablet (Toshiba Thrive) with no problems. The setup of the device took two tries, but I suspect that's more my tremor than a real glitch. I can plug into any screen in my home (3) and control what I see from the pad or my [smart] phone. The quality has been excellent, but I should add that I have the highest internet speed available through AT&T. (heavy sigh) The only reason I didn't give it a full 5 is, it is a bit 'Spartan', but it works as advertised, and at only $35, what's the risk?

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Chromecast Unusable - Support Poor

    • Las Vegas, NV,
    • Jun 30, 2015

    You must have received the lucky unit. I ordered mine, waited and received it. Followed the instructions to the letter and set-up ChromeCast no problems, well until I went to use it. I opened Chrome and saw the Cast extension in top right, selected it and chose the ChromeCast until that was displaying my number on the TV. All was good until the extension turned red, a small x was in the corner of the extension and the ChromeCast box showed that it was searching for ChromeCast. I looked three feet away and could see the ChromeCast screen on my TV showing connected to my WiFi network. I let it search and eventually shut it all down with no results. I refreshed the ChromeCast to factory settings, uninstalled Chrome and ChromeCast from my Windows 7 PC and started again, same results.

    I called support and we walked through it with a few secret tips given me and I was now casting from desktop to TV. The next day went to cast and I was back at unable to locate unit stage. I recalled support and got; "I don't know what to say. I have never heard of this. Here is what I would suggest. You send back the unit and give me your credit card number and we will put a hold on your credit card until we receive the unit you send to us. Once we get the unit we will send you a new unit and release the hold on your credit card." You have got to be kidding me? Hold on my credit card? Pay to send "possibly" faulty unit? Wait for you to receive it to release my credit card?

    Easier solution. Put POS ChromeCast in a box and buy a Roku. Streaming is a wonderful thing now and it doesn't take me 2 plus hours and a prayer to watch Netflix.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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