A few weeks back, a major crisis happened to me. The latest episode of “Scandal” didn’t TiVo like it was supposed to. Now, I know what you’re thinking - that’s not that big of a deal. Well, you obviously don’t know me then. I knew I could remedy the problem by streaming the episode on my laptop, but I hate watching my favorite shows on a tiny screen. What I really needed was to watch the episode on my TV.
And that’s when I realized I needed something that would allow me to get my TV addiction fix - without costing me too much. There are plenty of choices for streaming players these days. Here’s what I think of each one:
Roku: Has several options, including 3 streaming devices (ranging from $49-$79) and a newer stick device (which also costs $49). Roku comes with over 2,000 channels, but it doesn’t allow you to mirror devices (which is what I would need if I want to stream stuff directly from my laptop or tablet). One plus: it comes with its own remote. The stick is fairly new and might have some kinks to work out, and I definitely don’t want another big box to add to my collection of DVR, Blu-Ray, Wii, etc.
AppleTV: Again, I don’t want to add another box to my already growing stash of devices. Although it allows you access to many apps (like Netflix and iTunes), it’s a little more than I’m willing to spend (at $69). I also don’t really feel like figuring out how to set up something like this. I do know a lot of people who love this product, but mostly because they’re pretty hardcore Apple fans anyway.
Amazon Fire: I don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime Streaming, which seems like the main reason to buy this one. If you do subscribe, you’d get unlimited access to over 200,000 TV episodes and movies. But, alas, this one is also pricey at $99 for the device. It would be an additional $99 just for the Amazon Prime subscription. No thanks.
Sling Media: I don’t know much about this brand (which always makes me a little leery). It does have an easy set-up, but again it’s way too expensive (at $134).
Chromecast: I’m definitely leaning towards Chromecast because of the rave reviews I’ve gotten from several of my friends who already own it. This Google product is actually the cheapest option at just $35, so I did a little more research.
Here are my findings:
You might be asking, what is Chromecast? Well, it’s a device that works by plugging into the HDMI port on your television. Then, you can use an Android phone, tablet, iPhone, iPad, Mac or Windows laptop, or Chromebook to screen whatever you want to watch right onto your TV. So, you set up Chromecast by simply plugging it in - no extra steps necessary!
So, here are a few of the benefits to using Chromecast:
1. Small size: I didn’t want to add another hefty box to my living room as I mentioned, and the Chromecast is literally the size of a thumb drive. Perfecto!
2. Compatible with apps: Chromecast works with tons of apps, including Netflix, YouTube, HBOGo, Showtime Anytime, and Google Play. I can even stream my favorite tunes with the Pandora app. Oh, and for people who watch sports, there are plenty of options, like Watch ESPN and MLB.TV.
3. Can use phone as a remote control: You can use all of the functions of a regular remote control (play, pause, rewind, volume control) on your phone for easy access. You can even still do other things on your phone while something is playing on the TV.
4. No additional setup for other screens: If friends or family come over with their laptops or phones, Chromecast can screen their stuff with no extra setup required.
5. Ability to do photo slideshows: After I get back from vacations, I always want to show everyone my pics. In a harkening back to the old slideshow days, with Chromecast, you can use the app Photocast to show pics up on the television screen. This is so much easier than trying to show a bunch of photos on your phone!
After reading all the features Chromecast has, I still had to make sure the experts would recommend it. One of the best reviews was from TechRadar. It was published just over a week ago (so you can tell it’s current), and their verdict is insanely positive: “There is simply nothing out there quite like the Google Chromecast. It’s a brilliant and cheap way to get smart apps onto your older TV, and comes highly recommended.” And they gave it 5 out of 5 stars!
When you go on the EnGadget site, they offer not only a full review and additional critic reviews, but also user reviews as well - all of which are overwhelmingly positive. The site’s final verdict is: “Chromecast is an easy way to stream internet video to your TV from almost any source. With a price of just $35, it’s a bona fide steal.”
With reviews (and a low price), who wouldn’t want to buy Chromecast?
In terms of price, here’s how a few stores measured up:
Amazon: $32.49 (with free shipping)
Best Buy: $32.99 (plus shipping)
Target: $32.49 (with free shipping on orders over $25)
Walmart: $33.12 (plus shipping)
After checking for additional coupons, it looks like Target and Amazon are a tie. I decided to go with Amazon, because I know they usually ship their items fairly quickly! Hooray!
Now, I’ll be able to watch my TV shows and movies on my TV with no problem. Future TV crises averted.