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.
I still have fond memories of decorating a Christmas tree as WPIX TV played “Yule Log”. Watching the White House fireplace beautifully burning on TV while listening to holiday music made our small NYC apartment feel like a wonderful home out in the country. When I learned of iYule.tv produced by Cali Lewis (GeekBriefTV), Geoff Smith, Paul Colligan and Neal Campbell in the NYTimes today I was eager to give it a try.
The team provides a 30 minute video comes complete with snaps and crackles of a real fireplace in multiple file formats for $5 each (both with and without a musical soundtrack). You can also download all formats for $10. The file sizes include support for the iPod Nano, iPod Classic, AppleTV and PCs & Macs. The quality is great and the soundtrack is remenisant of the interlude music often played during Peanuts animated movies. Very soothing.
If you have been dreaming of cosying up in front of a warm fireplace but don’t have access to one, this is the next best thing.
Edwin Tofslie has created a very simple image that visually illustrates the evolution of Apple’s products from the Apple I to the newly announced iPhone. Viewing all the images I find myself saying, “I owned that, used that, owned that … “.
From time to time I find myself utilizing YouTube.com’s services but I have never found myself scanning its pages for user submitted gems. That may change now that Apple has upgraded AppleTV with a YouTube browse feature. The software upgrade took about 10 minutes and after a short reboot I was able to scan hundreds of videos that have been converted into Apple’s H.264 format.
What was really cool was the ability to log into my personal YouTube account from AppleTV and view all the videos I have previously marked as favorites.