What is Google Chromecast?
The Google Chromecast is a streaming media player, which means it takes content from the Internet and displays it on your TV.
The Chromecast comes in two types: Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra. The Ultra version supports 4K Ultra HD and HDR video and you can also use it with an Ethernet connection in addition to Wi-Fi. The regular Chromecast has a list price of $35 and the Chromecast Ultra is $69.
The Chromecast works differently than the Amazon Fire TV, the Roku, and the Apple TV, the other major streaming devices. Those players all have on-screen interfaces that display the channels/apps that can be played through them and they all come with remotes to navigate through the interface. With the Chromecast, you find the content you want to watch/listen to/play on your Android or iOS mobile device or in your Chrome browser and then “cast” it to your TV through the player. (You’re not actually sending the full signal to the Chromecast from your device; you’re just sending the URL and it picks it up directly from the Internet.)
What can you do with a Chromecast?
Watch Streaming Videos
Not surprisingly, the Chromecast can stream videos you buy from the Google Play store. But there are many other top content providers that work with it as well, including Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO/HBO NOW, Sling TV, ESPN, Disney, PBS, History, YouTube, NBA, and many more. The one major content provider that you can’t use with it is Amazon Video.
Listen to Streaming Audio
The Chromecast lets you play music from several popular services as well, including their own Google Music, Pandora, Spotify, and iHeart Radio.
Mirror Your PC and Android Device Screens on Your TV
Using the Chrome browser on your Windows desktop or the Google Home app on your mobile device, you can mirror its entire screen to your TV. So, for example, it would let you watch a video that’s only available online or read your email or display a presentation on your screen.
Amazon stopped selling Google’s Chromecast line back in 2015, claiming the sales halt was due to the streaming gadgets’ lack of support for Amazon Prime Video.
Last December, Amazon finally released an Amazon Prime Video app on the Apple TV, but its mobile app continued to lack Chromecast support. Despite this disparity, Amazon later announced that both the Apple TV and Chromecast would be returning to its store, although it’s taken a year for the one without Amazon Prime Video to actually do so.