Chromecast Bridges to the Big Screen

Stephen Yagielowicz

Consumers are increasingly turning to mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets to surf the Internet — but the small screen sizes of these diminutive devices pale in comparison to the big screen glory of the modern home theatre. If only a compromise between easy content access and big screens could be found — something serving as a bridge between your media library, the web and the world.

Google says that its $35 Chromecast device (www.google.com/chromecast) is the easiest way to enjoy online video and music on your TV, with the small dongle bridging big screens with mobile devices and providing more options for audiences on the go.

Chromecast is a slick example of the marriage of mobile and home theater technology.

According to Google, Chromecast puts “everything you love, now on your TV,” allowing system users to easily enjoy their favorite online entertainment on any HDTV, including movies, TV shows, music and more, from content providers such as Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and Chrome.

“No more huddling around small screens and tiny speakers,” a Google rep promised. “Chromecast automatically updates to work with a growing number of apps [and] works with devices you already own, including Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones, iPads, Chrome for Mac and Windows and Chromebook Pixel.”

Chromecast enables users to browse for what they want to watch, control playback, and adjust volume using their existing devices, so they won’t have to learn anything new.

Although subscriptions may be required by certain content providers, getting started is easy: simply plug the Chromecast dongle into an HDTV’s HDMI connection and send power to the device’s USB connection; then connect it to a Wi-Fi network. You will then be able to send video and more from any smartphone, tablet or laptop to this TV with the press of a button.

It is a slick example of the marriage of mobile and home theater technology that is providing new opportunities for content publishers and new expectations for consumers.

For all of its uniqueness, however, Chromecast has some stiff competition in the form of Apple TV and the Roku set-top boxes, among other platforms; which seeking to gain a competitive advantage against, chose to call its service “casting” rather than “streaming.”

“Unlike AirPlay on iOS devices and the Apple TV, which stream content directly from your device to your TV, once you tell the Chromecast what you’d like to watch it goes out on the Internet and gets that material — your device isn’t involved in the streaming end at all,” Susie Ochs wrote for TechHive.com. “So you’re free to open another app on your phone or tablet, or to use another browser tab on your laptop (or hide the browser altogether). Or even leave the house.”

Ochs cites the example of how the Chromecast Netflix app lets users begin playback from one device and then pick up control from another device on the Wi-Fi network.

Such advanced features, as well as its cut-rate cost, provide the Google product with several advantages over competitive systems, but the true power is provided by Chrome, as the Chromecast device contains its own version of the popular web browser.

According to developer Richard Hall, one of the biggest benefits of Chromecast is that it isn’t limited to just streaming video.

“Anything you can put into the Chrome browser can be Cast to a television screen,” Hall stated. “This includes websites, photos, documents and more.”

Currently in beta, the Google Cast browser extension enables users to find and play content on their Chromecast device from within the Chrome browser.

“When on Cast optimized sites like YouTube and Netflix, you’ll see new options that let you play video on your TV via Chromecast — using your computer as a remote to browse for videos and to control playback,” states a Google rep. “You can also Cast any of your tabs in Chrome to your TV, letting you enjoy sites, photos, or even video from the best screen in your home.”

The company warns that all of this requires a fast computer and Wi-Fi network.

This opens possibilities for adult content marketers and consumers, especially given the extension’s ability to Cast local files through the browser to the viewer’s television or other connected display.

An auto-resizing function allows the device to automatically format content for the best fit on your display by resizing the browser. Tab projection quality can be specified with settings for standard (480p), high (720p) and “extreme,” at 720p with a high bit rate.

While Chromecast is well suited to delivering YouTube videos straight from the web, the browser tab Casts can be less reliable, with some users noting audio sync problems at the higher quality levels — something which can be solved by toggling back to 480p — but at the cost of image quality. Of course, Casting local files doesn’t require an Internet upload or download as the transfer is handled across the local Wi-Fi network.

An optional full screen zoom mode prevents annoying “black bars” from appearing on widescreen videos, adding to the viewing flexibility.

To help make the most of the browser extension, several hacks are already available (wiki.casthacks.com) and a developer community is quickly embracing Chromecasting.

As for whether or not the device is worth it, Hall is unequivocal.

“I’d say so, a hundred times yes,” Hall stated. “The number of uses the Chromecast has makes it great for so many things.”

Given the tech-forward nature of the adult entertainment industry, porn is sure to be one of those many things — but will it be the next big thing?

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