Chromecast

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The Google Chromecast has been a top seller since its debut.

Google pushed out an update for the firmware on its Google Chromecast dongle that appears to have affected the Chrome Tab Casting feature in the process.

The Chromecast Firmware Has been Updated
The Chromecast Firmware has been updated

Chrome tab casting allows users to mirror individual Google tabs on their HDTV’s in order to view images and video content. When working correctly (as mine did before the update) this feature allows laptop users to watch full episodes of shows from websites such as CBS.com, Hulu.com seamlessly but currently there is a noticeable lag between the video and audio performance especially on Hulu. Tab casting is a strong feature rivaling Apple TV’s AirPlay. It also adds important functionality for the device that is otherwise limited to playing video from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, HBO Go and the Google Play Store.  Of those options only one (YouTube) is free. The Chromecast in full working order received a glowing review see it here. The Google customer support representative explained that the tab casting feature is in Beta testing, which likely explains the new kinks. Google will very likely repair this problem as more reports come in on this issue and once it is resolved we will follow up. Until then if you experience issues with this or any other features you can call them at 1-855-836-3987.

Do you own a Chromecast? Have you experienced similar issues or any other? Have you successfully repaired such a problem?  Please share in the discussion area below!

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The Google Chromecast has been a top seller since its debut.

Are you looking to save money on streaming products during the holiday season? The streaming Advisor has become aware that the Google Chromecast is currently $29 Amazon.com. The small HDMI dongle is one of the most popular new products to hit the market. We here at the streaming advisor do not know how long that price will stay in place. The device has been one of the top sellers for the online retailer since its debut and spent many weeks as the number one seller in the electronics catagory. For more holiday savings take a look at our Black Friday sales guide.

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Ryan Michael Downey

The biggest shopping day of the year is tomorrow and the Streaming Advisor has looked over a number of adds to find savings on streaming related products at the major retailers.

Home Depot
HDMI Cable 2 Pack $9.88: If you have an HDTV the best way and in some cases the only way to hook many streaming devices up to your TV is with an HDMI cord. This goes for streaming boxes Blu-ray players and the game consoles used for streaming. While you can often find great deals on HDMI cords via online retailers shipping costs do add up. The package includes an 8 foot cord and a six foot cord along with a 90 degree adapter to help fit the HDMI cord in to a tight space.

Sam’s Club
Play Station 3 $200.00 and X-Box 360 for 200.00: Last year the best game systems on the market both for online game play and streaming were the X-Box 360 and the Play Station 3. With the release of new models of each this year the X-Box One at $500.00 and the Play Station 4 at $400.00. This year it’s out with the old in with the new which means great savings for the consumers on the old models. Sam’s Club members can purchase either the Play Station 3 or the X-Box One for just 199.00 apiece. This means that you can purchase both of the old systems for the price of one play station 4. Both of the older models offer numerous great streaming options including the ability to run Plex as well as the top streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Crackle and many others. The X-Box 360 also offers the Watch ESPN app. Special note, X-Box unlike other streaming options, requires users to pay a $60.00 yearly fee for the X-Box Gold service in order to access streaming features. In the case of the Play Station 3 the $200.00 price includes one of the better Blu-ray players on the market and free online streaming along with Internet game play access.

Target
Apple TV $89.00 Regularly $99.00:  Apple TV is Apple’s industry leading streaming box offering a majority of the top Apps including Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube along with HBO-Go and its latest addition the PBS app. The product will continue to rise in value as it continues to add apps

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HH Greg
Roku HD 59.00 Regularly $79.00: The Roku HD is a previous generation streamer that has been since replaced with the Roku 1. While supplies last the HD is still a good buy for an introductory model. The Roku HD is capable of rendering 720p HD picture quality and like other Roku models will now offer on demand movies and TV shows through M-Go after it is upgraded with its new firmware.

Best Buy
Apple TV $85.00 Regularly $99.00 The Logitech Harmony Universal Remote $39 Regularly 79.00 Google Chromecast $29.00: The traditional Black Friday destination is offering the Apple TV for 15 dollars off. At $85.00 the Apple TV is an incredible value especially for  those with Apple devices that can utilize Air Play. The Logitech Harmony Remote for $39.00 is a fantastic value for anyone with multiple home theater items and streaming boxes. A five dollar savings on the Google Chromecast makes the item more of a steal then at its regular price on $35.00. The Chromecast started with a very limited amount of smart phone related apps but it has been adding new partners slowly but surely.

Radio Shack
Roku XD $49.00 Regular price 59.00: A ten dollar savings on a previous generation Roku makes for a good stocking stuffer.  The older models are still a great value.

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The Google Chromecast has been a top seller since its debut.

imageWith Black Friday almost here and Cyber Monday close behind it shoppers should have their eyes trained for sales on the Google Chromecast. The Chromecast is a great value at its full price of $35.00 but if it gets a discount, as many items do on the biggest shopping weekend of the year, it will go from being a great deal to a steal. While the Chromecast cannot do everything its competition (see our comparison between Roku and Chromecast) can do, the things that it does do well are worth a small investment. Our Chromecast review shares it’s abilities in great detail.

Besides the versatile ability to mirror video and audio from Google Chrome web pages from a computer to a television, iPhone and iPad users can use the device to beam Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go  and YouTube to an HD television as well as stream Pandora music to their TV speakers. Android owners get the added benefit of access to Google Play movies, TV episodes and music. Popular apps are continuing to line up to add support to the device. All in all the Google Chromecast is an elegant entertainment hub that can fit in your pocket with a delivery system, a smart phone that can slip in right beside it.

Ryan Michael Downey
In a highly anticipated move the Google Chromecast has added HBO Go to its list of officially supported apps. HBO-Go, which is an Internet based service from Time Warner owned HBO, provides on demand viewing of its library of original shows and movies along withimage a large selection of feature films and documentaries. The films change frequently to reflect what is in the TV stations rotation. Until now Chromecast  users could only access HBO Go via a laptop using its Google Chrome tab mirroring abilities. The service is only available to those who possess the ability to authenticate a cable subscription. Besides cable access smart phone or tablet users will have to have the HBO Go App installed. This brings the number of officially supported app for the device to six. The device also supports Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora and Google Play movies, TV and music. The Chromecast has been adding support for the most popular internet services slowly but surely as it builds partnerships with media companies who must first Integrate DIAL support.

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The Google Chromecast has been a top seller since its debut.

Pandora users can now listen to their favorite music app through their TV speakers via the Google Chromecast, Google’s inexpensive HDMI dongle. The Chromecast announced the addition this week bringing the amount of officially supported apps to 6. In order to use the app it must first be installed on a corresponding IOS or Android smart phone or tablet. When active the app displays cover art and album information on the screen along with the time remaining.

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The Google Chromecast has been a top seller since its debut.

The Streaming Advisor looks at The Hot Device In the Streaming World

Today we are reviewing the Google Chromecast. The Google Chromecast is a simple and elegant streaming receiver priced at image$35.00 and available at Best Buy and online retailers Amazon.com and the Google Play Store. While the device has some definite limitations It has received strong media buzz after its release for a number of reasons. We will explore both its strengths and weaknesses bellow.

What Does It Do?
The Chromecast has two primary functions. It can be paired with a smartphone or tablet in order to send the signals for Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, HBO GO and Google Play media to a TV.  Its other primary function is that it can mirror tabs a using Google’s Chrome browser via a laptop or desktop computer. The Chromecast does not allow that same functionality via the mobile version of the chrome browser found on Android devices.  For those who have both a mobile device and a laptop there is a lot to be done with this space smart dongle.

Easy Set Up
Setting up the Chromecast is done in minutes. Before plugging the Chromecast in to an HDMI port the free Chromecast app must be added to a smartphone. The Chromecast can be powered via a USB connection on the television set if one is available or by its USB plug adaptor. Once this is done launch the app and it will prompt you through the short set up process.

Less Is More
The Chromecast has often been incorrectly categorized as a set top device like the Apple TV or Roku line of products. This is not the case. While a typical set top device is not large or cumbersome they take up about as much surface area as a stack of coasters and sit next to a TV or on an entertainment center. The Chromecast is a dongle, which is a small piece of equipment that is about the size of a thumb/flash drive. It is designed to plug in to an HDMI port on an HD television and depending on where your HDMI ports are can be hidden from view completely. Set top devices also have to be connected to a television via an HDMI cord, the Chromecast on the other hand already has its HDMI connecter designed into its 2 inch construction providing a clutter free way to add new functionality to any HD TV.

Weaknesses

Only HD Compatible
Because the Chromecast requires an HDMI port to connect to a TV this means that the device can not be used on any television without one. This means those without an HDTV are out of luck. Any modern HDTV will have at least one HDMI port. If you have none open it might be worth it to buy an HDMI splitter. Because it has become the standard for video and audio delivery each HDMI port is worth its weight in gold.

Bring your own Apps
The Chromecast has no preinstalled apps. Purchasing the dongle will not automatically provide a portal to Netflix, Pandora or any of the well-known sources for streaming content.  Anything that is seen via the Chromecast must be sent via a mobile device or computer using the Chrome Browser. Think of the Chromecast like an antenna for receiving internet content and your computer or mobile device like the broadcaster. Without a local affiliate to produce and beam out the 5:00 news there would be nothing to tune in to whether you use cable, rabbit ears or even the new flat antennas that are all the rage. This is one of the major differences between the Chromecast and the popular set top boxes which come preloaded with video and audio streaming apps.

No Remote Control
The Chromecast does not ship with a remote of any kind. The device utilizes mobile devices and laptops for all of its control functions. Once the mobile device is casting to the dongle all of the normal control features are available on the smart phone or tablet screen including play, pause, volume etc. When using a laptop it is easier to use a TV remote for volume functions. Unfortunately if a household does not have such devices available the Chromecast is functionally useless.

Strengths

Using A Mobile Device As A Remote
Yes this function is listed as a weakness for the device. But for those who do have a smart phone or tablet it is a convenience. It means there is one less controller to keep up with. Most people keep better track of their cell phones than anything else that they own. Apple and Roku along with other set top device makers figured this out a long time ago and released free mobile apps to control their devices even though they also do ship with remotes. It also may allow for the device to be sold at its price point because there is so little hardware.  The difference here is that there is no app to launch because the device morphs into the control mechanism only when a compatible program is launched.

Chrome Browser Mirroring
The term mirroring in the context of computers and mobile technology means that what you see on your computer screen is what you will see on your TV. In order to use a laptop for mirroring with a Chromecast you must download the latest version of the Google Chrome browser and add the “cast” extension. Once this is set up you are ready to watch Internet content from a computer on television. In the case of the Chromecast for instance whatever your computer accesses via the Chrome browser will be seen on the TV screen. If you navigate to the National Geographic website or IMDB your TV will display the full site minus the URL bar at the top. Some websites have their video content formatted so that it pops out in another box for viewing. This poses a problem that can occur when mirroring with Chrome. While this is not a common feature it does occur. Chromecast is unable to mirror video content on sites that operate in that manner. The good news is some of the most popular websites for streaming including Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go are fully capable of supporting the Chromecast through its Chrome browser. This is a plus for Hulu fans because it means that the Chromecast allows users to watch Hulu on their televisions without the need to sign up for Hulu’s pay service “Hulu Plus”. Of all the devices and services on the market the Chromecast is the easiest one to use in order to view the Hulu website on a TV. The a laptop casting with Chromecast can also mirror full episodes of CBS television shows via CBS.com. There is currently no CBS video app available on any device so again this is a coup for Chromecast and its mirroring. Important note, if a website has a video window that can be maximized to fit your computer screen it will be reflected on your television screen too. This is especially helpful when viewing video on news sites. For the record the videos from the CNN and Fox News websites can be viewed via Chromecast mirroring but MSNBC uses a pop out window for video content and therefore cannot be seen on the TV screen. A notable website that is not compatible with Chromecast mirroring is the popular Watch ESPN website.  While the Chromecast can display the website, its video feed appears in a pop out box that can be seen on a computer but cannot be seen on the television.

Great For Traveling
If you like to access your Netflix queue while on the road whether it is to relax after a business trip or let  the kids wind down at the end of a long day the Chromecast is a handy item to have on a road trip. Simply access your hotels wireless network or even use a phone as a hotspot, if this is an option and view away.

Inexpensive Compared To Other Devices
Part of the popularity of the Chromecast is its price tag. For households with an HDTV, a mobile device and a laptop computer already on hand the Chromecast can add a great deal of functionality to a living room.

Does the price tag of the Chromecast make up for its lack of native apps? If someone has the necessary hardware to access their favorite apps and websites the overall performance of the device can make it a worthwhile purchase. This product is a step in the right direction for Google and may be the first popularly adopted method for mirroring computer content to a television.  After many failed attempts to license full set top devices Google has captured the imagination of the public with The Google Chromecast.

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Understanding The Similarities And Differences Between Two Popular Media Mirroring Methods

Ryan Michael Downey

Two popular devices for streaming media to a television are the industry leading Apple TV and the Google Chromecast. Head to head comparisons are very popular when looking at two devices in the same category but in the case of these two there is very little they have in common. While the Apple TV is a set top box that runs 25 or so official apps via a wireless or an Ethernet connection. The Chromecast is a small dongle, which is a tech term for an inch long or less device that can be added to a piece of hardware to add functionality. There are dongles for everything from streaming media to a simple keyboard. Chromecast has no preloaded apps and must access every service that it uses through either a computer using the Chrome browser or a mobile device like a smart phone or tablet. Chromecast is more of a receiver for content “cast’ from a computer or mobile device while Apple TV is both a receiver for Airplay and a small single use computer with storage capabilities programs and operating system and so on. Where Apple TV and the Chromecast are similar is that they both share the ability to mirror devices to a TV. Both have strengths and weaknesses.

Google Chrome Cast: Works with: Computers running the Google Chrome Brower
How: Computer owners download a Chrome Extension called Google Cast. Once the app is installed then users utilizing the Google Chrome  browser can send the entire image from their computer screens to their television.

Apple TV Airplay: Works With: Current Apple computers with at least a dual core processor. This covers models released from 2011 and everything since. The list of mobile devices includes the iPad 2 and the subsequent models, the iPhone starting with the 4 and the iPod touch starting with generation 5.

Limitations
Apple TV: Airplay on a mobile device is capable of rendering any video source that does not require Flash. While all IOS apps are of course set up to work with Apple’s standard web video can be more problematic depending on the site. This is not an issue when using airplay on an Apple laptop or desktop computer because they are fully capable of running Flash. Another issue is that mobile devices are often shuttled to mobile versions of websites and some content providers do not allow mobile devices access to all of their content. One example is CBS.com. While CBS lists full episodes as a viewing option from their site choosing that option on an iPad will only play a brief preview for the show. Some popular though questionable websites such as project free TV are not accesable on an Apple mobile device.

Chromecast: Chromecast does not cast from mobile devices outside of its featured partners Netflix, YouTube, Google Play and Hulu Plus. You must have these apps on your mobile device in order to access the features. Apple products are not able to access the Google Play Store. When using these services simply press the cast icon on your mobile device and the content will play on your TV screen.
When using a computer the Chromecast can access anything that is capable of playing on a computer screen via a Google Chrome tab though there are limitations. The major limitation with the Chromecast is that some websites have their video content formatted so that it pops out in another box for viewing. If a video pops out as a separate box then you will not be able to cast it. A notable website where this occurs is the popular Watch ESPN website.  While the Chromecast can mirror the basic website its video feed appears in a pop out box that can be seen on a computer but cannot be seen on the television.  The lack of the ability to mirror from a mobile device is a major drawback for the Chromecast. With so many households replacing laptops and desktop computers in favor or sleek tablet with blue tooth keyboards this cuts off its market for the feature. 

Strengths
Chrome Cast: Mirroring with the Chromecast is wrapped in its ability to mirror Google Chrome tabs on a computer. This opens up a universe of viewing opportunities. A major coup for the dongle is that it can access the free version of Hulu and play it on a TV screen. It mirrors the screen as you see it online. If you choose to select full screen viewing on the website the screen will mirror in full HD aspect ratio. The Video and audio quality is strong but its overall performance is tied to the computer it is casting from. There have been reports of syncing problems between the audio and video signals but I did not experience this in my tests. Another notable strength is that CBS television shows can be cast from its website to the TV. Like Hulu if you chose to view the video in full screen on the computer screen the video will play in full screen on the television. Because the Chromecast must mirror using a computer and not a mobile device there is no limitation for Flash based videos. Chromecast will also allow the user to explore the internet using a TV screen as a monitor though there is a second or so delay. Possibly the greatest strength of the Chromecast is that it is not wedded to any format. Any computer can access its casting features as opposed to the Apple TV which acts as an Airplay receiver in concert Apple devices. Google is slowly expanding its supported device with support for the Samsung Chromebook “coming soon”.

Apple TV: Apple TV allows full screen mirroring of Apple computers and mobile devices. All apps and programs can be mirrored which lends itself to being both an entertainment device and a presentation device. When viewing online video. Any video that can be accessed on an Apple mobile or computer device can be viewed on a TV screen. While there are some exceptions a majority of internet video can be viewed on an Apple mobile device and all Internet based video can be viewed on a compatible apple laptop or desktop.  Because it can mirror any of the apps on any mobile device the Apple TV becomes the center of a versatile ecosystem. Though it is not part of an open streaming ecosystem the Apple TV can work as an amazing addition to any household with compatible Apple products.

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Ryan M Downey

There are a lot of tech bloggers and critics asking the question “Will Chromecast knock Roku out of America’s living rooms?” I don’t think so. The Chromecast gives consumers another product to consider and may start to carve out a niche unrelated to Rokus sollid second place spot behind Apple TV but I think it is far more likely to hurt the sales of lesser known streaming boxes far more and there are a number of reasons why.

Industry Buzz
First of all simply having a new product on the market that is being compared to Roku does not automatically vault it ahead. Roku CEO Anthony Wood said on a recent interview with Bloomberg News that when new products such as Apple TV have come out in the past Roku sales have increased. There has not been a new product rollout with as much hype as the Chromecast up to this point but keep in mind there are very few stories about the Chromecast that fail to mention Roku and a very important axiom in public relations and marketing is you want people to be talking about you. Streaming boxes or DMR’s are rarely if ever advertised on television. Information about them is usually found via a review when the product debuts. And the reviews often compare one product to another. So every time a potential consumer runs across an article about streaming with Chromecast they will learn about Roku. According to Wood this leads the consumer to take a good look at Roku. So far Roku’s sales are up from where they were before Chromecast hit the market.

Services
The Chromecast can seamlessly “cast” Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus and Google Play movies and TV shows to a TV from a smartphone. For those unfamiliar with Google Play it is an on demand service where by the use may purchase TV Shows and movies to view similar to offerings by cable companies, Itunes, Amazon, Vudu, Blockbuster on Demand and others. Google does have a feature being hailed as “airplay like” when using a laptop or desktop computer while also utilizing the Chrome Browser. The feature called “casting” will beam your internet signal to the dongle in order to mirror video from a website such as Hulu.com or HBOGo. This feature is only available for laptop and desktop computers. While our experience with this feature went smoothly there are reports of audio either not sinking and worse not working at all.  Another unfortunate problem is that if a website uses pop out screens for video content the Chromecast can not play the content. This  means no casting from the phones and tablets that serve as the remote for this device. The casting functionality being limited to laptops is bad news for the many casual consumers who have left bulky laptops behind for sleek lightweight tablets.

Roku on the other hand is the only DMR with over 1000 apps in its included channel store specifically designed for use on its product. Apps included are standard bearers like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Amazon Instant Videos, Blockbuster on Demand, Crackle, and many others along with Tech and game news sites like IGN, CNET News services like NBC, CNN, Fox News, children’s programming, weather apps etc. Roku does not have a YouTube app at this time but through an app called myvideobuzz, users can link a personal YouTube account to the app or search its vast library. There are hundreds of other private and third party channels developed for Roku by independent programmers to meet the needs and wants of its consumer base. A quick search of third party channels will populate page upon page of simple to add channels for a Roku.

The market may already be set
Another factor squarely in Roku’s favor is market penetration. Recent reports show that Roku is the most heavily used DMR on the market. There are close to 6 million currently in homes across the country and while there are over twice as many Apple TV units in homes the numbers indicate that Roku users utilize streaming far more often. The study also shows that Roku users stream more content than users of other streaming devices including Apple TV. That is 6 million people who can recommend the product to friends and relatives.

If Google wanted to make a major statement it would have been very helpful had the company been able to meet the initial demand. The positive press when it launched created an initial tidal wave that could have led to far more sales then it created due to lack of inventory. Will demand for the device dissipate once the buzz dies down? How many people would pay $100 for a Tickle Me Elmo today? As more reviews roll in from people who actually use the product the market will have a chance to see what this item can do.

Overstated Value
Much has been made about the $35.00 price tag. It has been pointed out many times that this price point is 15 dollars less than the cost of the Roku LT, which is the lowest priced Roku model. Is this enough of a difference to cause someone to choose the Chromecast over the Roku LT? I don’t think the price point is as big a deal as it is made out to be. No, these have not been great economic times and something perceived as a cheap streaming option may seem tempting to some but keep in mind that the Chromecast has to be plugged in to an HDTV. So to start with, its consumer base is already willing to spend money on a perceived strong value. In the same Bloomberg interview mentioned earlier Anthony Wood pointed out that the $99.00 Roku 3 is the company’s best seller. It may be something that streaming enthusiast buy to add to an entertainment system but not an end all replacement.

Limited Reach
If Chromecast can only be utilized by HDTV owners then the product is limited in its reach. While there are certainly many people who have moved past the old square television sets there are still plenty of people who have yet to make the move to HD televisions either for purely price driven reasons or because they are just waiting until their current TV’s stop working. Roku has multiple models that can be utilized by users with non HD TV’s. If people adopt Roku as their chosen streaming device than it will be considerably more difficult for Chromecast to win over those customers because they will already be comfortable with the Roku.

BYOC
Something I find curious about the Chromecast is that it doesn’t ship with a controller. Google decided that their consumers should use smartphones and tablets as controllers. Like the earlier statement about HDTV adoption levels it is not a given that the entire American consumer base owns a smart phone or a tablet. And those who don’t are eliminated immediately from the consumer base for this product. By setting their product up as something that can only by utilized by smart phone owners with an HDTV they put a limitation on themselves that Roku has not.

Roku has a free app for Android and IOS that can be used to control the device. Once the device has been set up the physical controller can be put aside in favor of the mobile app. To pretend that using a smart phone as a controller is a new innovation is a step too far. What the lack of a controller does do is lower its shipping weight and packaging, which may even account for its lower price point. In some cases the controller adds other functionality to the device. Roku’s higher end models the XS (now no longer made) and its replacement the Roku 3 utilize the controller to play casual games things like angry birds, puzzle games etc. Roku does not market itself as a gaming console but this is sort of a bonus feature. The Roku 3’s controller also features a headphone jack in order to allow for a popular private listening mode utilizing the included headphones.

Conclusion
The Google Chromecast is a solid entry in to the streaming game for Google, its first product to catch the public imagination after failed attempts to get into the living room including the Logitech Revue, the Nexus Q and the Neo TV. For HDTV owners who also utilize smart phones the Chromecast is a nice way to add three new functions to an HDTV, Its ‘Casting” feature has potential for greatness but could use some tweaking.

Starting at its lowest price point the Roku line of products offers consumers a way to add well over 1000 channels spanning multiple categories with models to fit virtually any TV and be utilized by users with smart phones, dumb phones and no phones.

In the end the market will be the judge.

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Since the launch of Google’s Chromecast there have been many reports stating that the new dongle can mirror websites and is therefor is the companies own version of Apple’s innovative airplay feature, available through Apple TV in concert with IOS devices. Another tech story that has been floating is that Roku has its own “airplay like” feature through its controller app which allows users to play videos from an iPad on their TV.

This reporting is a poor characterization at best and a misstatement at worse. Both of those offerings are wonderful but they are not Air Play. In the case of Chromecast the closest approximation to Airplay is that laptop users can cast their individual Google Chrome tabs to their televisions to varying degrees of success. In our test of the device the Chromecast was able to cast Chrome tabs from Hulu.com without difficulty but was unable to access Watch ESPN because the video on a laptop appears as a pop out window instead of a tab. Other video heavy websites suffered from lag between audio and visual images. On the other hand Apple TV and Air Play employs slick integration for all current Apple mobile products and current laptop and desktop computers running OS X and up.  This list of mobile devices includes the iPad starting with the iPad 2, the iPhone starting with the 4 and the iPod touch starting with generation 5.

On the mobile device front, which in the case of Chromecast acts as its controller the product does a great job at integrating Netflix and YouTube and Hulu Plus which is a great start. These services immediately reach a major percentage of the streaming audience.  While the true believers in streaming may be aware of hundreds of sources for internet video and audio content the general public has little to no knowledge of Snag Films, B&W TV, UFO TV or server based programs like Plex and XBMC . But almost everybody knows about Netflix and YouTube.  Providing an inexpensive way for HDTV owners who do not own a smart TV to add Netflix and Youtube to their TVs is a nice step.  But we should not mislabel something or mislead consumers.

Another faux Airplay is the new feature utilizing Roku’s IOS and Android apps. The new innovation allows users to watch videos stored on their mobile devices via the Roku.  Again, this is a nice new innovation of the part of Roku. Being able to beam home movies and other stored content to the television is a great tool. But until you can go to a website, click on a video and view it seamlessly on your TV in full HD via the Roku this is not an airplay like function unless “Airplay like” just means watching any video at all from a mobile device on TV.

Roku has its own list of very strong selling points from its open source apps development, the headphone feature in its new remote and the only streaming box or DMR that offers a robust app store. It even has great third party apps. But for now integrating video from mobile devices is not its specialty. There is competition coming for Airplay in the form of Miracast and other formats. It could be that DIAL which is what Chromecast employs in order to offer its Netflix and Youtube app may be expanded in a way that becomes a competitive option for the non mac world. It would not be surprising to see Amazon release a system that allowed kindle fire owners to use their own version of airplay. Samsung who recently bought Boxee now has a mobile platform as well as the infrastructure to produce media streaming boxes.  Roku will soon offer own DIAL integration. There will be a lot of exciting developments for streaming. And when they arise The Streaming Advisor will bring you the facts and skip the platitudes.

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