It all started when my daughter was watching James and the Giant Peach, on Netflix. I found her waiting in the next room. One of the scenes had frightened her and she was waiting for it to end. I had just set up my Chromecast the other day, and realized it was a perfect tool to empower her in this situation. I paused the movie with my phone and called her back into the room. We got her Kindle Fire and opened the netflix app. I showed her the Chromecast button and how her Kindle was now the TV control. Starting up the movie again, I showed her how she could scrub along the timeline and skip the scary part. She sat back down and continued to watch the movie, hugging her Kindle.
Moments later my son came into the room with his Droid 2, wanting to show me a youtube video he was laughing at. This brought into play the other aspect of the Chromecast which I love: sharing and cooperation. We asked my daughter for permission to pause her movie so that her brother could share a funny video. She obliged, and he pushed his video from the Droid to the television. We got to watch the youtube movie together, afterward my daughter continued her Netflix movie where she left off.
That simple merging of all our mobile devices with the television is the true power of Chromecast. It demonstrates that the best interface for television is no interface at all. Think about it, television never had an on-screen interface in the past. It was just you and your remote control. Then digital cable came along and we had menus and guides. Suddenly you’re using your 4-way directional control to navigate a labyrinth of icons and menus.
Right now, most of our television viewing is done with a Roku box. Imagine how my scenario may have played out were we using that instead. While it’s true that the Roku would have allowed my daughter to fast forward through the scary scene, it would have required her to seize the remote control from me. She wouldn’t have been able to do it with her Kindle, which is what she is comfortable using. When my son entered the room with his youtube video, we would have had to back out of the Netflix interface, enter the YouTube interface and find our way to the video. More likely, the two of us would have resigned to watching on the phone, leaving his sister out of the experience.
There are already solutions similar to Chromecast, but none have the same potential for range and diversity. You’re not limited to a single remote control, or a proprietary technology. An iPad controls Chromecast no differently than a Kindle, or an Android phone. If your household has a growing number of these devices, Chromecast gives all of them the power to share content on the big screen.
The only negative thing to say about Chromecast is that it was released a bit premature. The developer kit isn’t complete yet, due to be officially released at some unannounced date. Since app support is where Chromecast gets its strength, the wait for full developer support has the potential to destroy its momentum in the market. Right now, you’re limited to Netflix and Youtube.
Many have already pledged to support the device; including Plex, our preferred media center solution. Plex support would complete Chromecast, for us, as a replacement for Roku. Any other services would be an added benefit, and I expect there will be many. Considering its price of $35, there’s little to go wrong in purchasing one. It’s nice to forget about finding the remote and push-button navigating my way through menus. For now, we use it constantly with just Netflix and YouTube. I look forward to the day when Chromecast reaches its full potential.