Installed and configured Google’s new Chromecast content broadcast device on my 8 YO Sony 1080i HD TV tonight. Installation was fairly straightforward with only a minor process glitch when saving the WiFi login info during setup. [Note: The web app accidentally switches your WiFi connections back to your WiFi network before completing the setup. You need to switch it back to the Chromecast WiFi network to complete installation.] Once the device is configured I was able to easily launch Netflix from either my iPhone or iPad and send the show to the TV by clicking the new Chromecast broadcast button. OOTB I was able to use my Netflix and Youtube apps with the device but did not see the broadcast icon when browsing content via Chrome.
The biggest differences between Apple TV and Chromecast are that, 1) Apple TV is a standalone device, and 2) Apple TV has infinitely more content options available to you. With iCloud you can stream all your purchased Music, TV Shows and Movies to Apple TV. You can also “mirror” anything on your Mac, iPhone or iPad directly on your TV via Airplay.
Chromecast’s immediate advantage is the price and to some degree, size – although none of the Google ads show that you need to two connections to make the device work; HDMI for the image and USB to power the device. Over time Google will update more of their apps and others with the ability to broadcast content to the device. They are also rumors that HBO Go will soon be available (but don’t quote me on that).
The Google Chromecast offering is a good initial attempt but if you are invested in the Apple ecosystem (via iTunes) then Apple TV is still a better way to go. You can even pick-up a refurbished Apple TV for only $75 on their website.