Chromecasts are £40-odd quid on Amazon.co.uk, and we’re interested in using them at work, so I got one to look at. Here are the bits you get in the box:
And here’s a walk through of the setup using Mac OS X (10.8.4) and a Samsung 6000-series TV.
Overall – the setup was a bit longer and more involved then I’d anticipated, and it’s not really clear what’s going on, unless like me you’re working with a device that does more or less the same thing. The setup worked almost perfectly though and the result is impressive.
The way the setup works is that the device broadcasts a wifi network, you connect to it after some visual checking (it does the connecting automatically via an app), and then you tell it your wifi connection details – the app gathers the names of wifi networks but you tell it the password. We are doing the same thing in a manual way in Radiodan and the Arduino Yún does something similar. My colleague reports that it is smoother on an Android app, and I guess Apple laptops probably are not the key target devices, since the functionality is like Airplay.
You need to install an app for the setup and an extension in Chrome to ‘cast’ things; for YouTube and a few other sites you cast directly in the page, which as I understand it, makes the Chromecast device make a separate call to the site for the best version of the video. For other things you just get the whole browser tab, including fullscreen if you like. The Chromecast extension can
- access your data on all websites
- access your tabs and browsing activity
- manage network connections
Not sure what those mean precisely yet.
You don’t have to be logged into Google to set it up or use it, and I wasn’t.
Here are the instructions:
You put the chromecast into the HDMI socket and plug it into the mains via a mini USB. Flip through sources on the TV and find the screen that looks like this:
At this point we spotted a new wifi network, ‘Chromecast4827′.
On the computer (Mac OS X) you go to the Chromecast setup link and download and install an app:
When you run it it asks you to say which Chromecast you are installing – I forgot to take a screenshot of that bit.
Then the app is obviously connecting to the wifi network. The twee ‘Back in a snap’ makes me want to lightly punch someone, but that’s all part of the current infestation of corporate cutesiness, so I guess I have to live with it.
I didn’t have to change the input, this code just appeared…
…on the TV:
Then you wait a while for it to download software and restart.
TV says ‘ready to cast':
‘Continue’ on the app, then we get ‘start using chromecast':
‘Start using Chromecast’ takes you to a link in Chrome.
‘Hang in there’ *light punch*
Google Cast extension wants to know your brain:
Once the extension was installed, I watched the ‘how to’ video locally –
- then tried to play it remotely – it didn’t work.
A different YouTube video worked, though it grumbled when I pressed the extensions ‘cast’ button and prefered me to use the one in the YouTube page:
The nice thing about doing it like this is you can open a new tab locally and it carries on playing.
iPlayer worked by casting using the extension – in full screen it looked pretty good:
- although in full screen you can’t open another tab.