On Wednesday, March 19th, Chromecast was finally launched here in Canada, almost a full year after our friends to the South got this nifty device. Which brings to my point this week The Old New. What the hell do I mean?
Lets take the Chromecast. A simple device that by it’s very name tells you what it can do. It allows users to stream content either audio or video plus a few more to your TV. This is pretty exciting stuff for 2 types of groups out there. First the people who like tech but don’t know how to use it and second the ones who are too cheap to get updated equipment. I know it sounds ageist or demeaning but I have friends and relatives who fit into either camp.
A device like this is not bleeding edge per se but more middle edge. Streaming has been available in various forms for several years. The problem has always been getting people to connect their computers to their entertainment system. Nobody wants a giant beige or black tower sitting by the TV, so when Playstation & Xbox allowed users to stream media it was a huge win.
But then there were other devices that started coming to market. Black or grey markets for users to enjoy the benefits of such services. Devices like the Western Digital Live, Apple TV, Boxee, Roku, Blu-Ray players and others began to allow us to view digital files easier than before. Also another big benefit is the size of most of these as they usually are rather small and unobtrusive in the living room.
The big thing to look for in this area has always been compatibility. Who has tried to watch something on a device they had only to discover it didn’t play because the file wasn’t supported (PS3 I’m looking at you). Which is why I use WD Live to watch or listen to my digital content.
The big boon however. was the introduction and support of a streaming service like Netflix or HBO GO or HULU or Amazon Prime. With these you now have access to literally thousands of hours of film & television. Ever since getting Netflix 3 years ago I haven’t looked back. I get what I want when I want (well, for the most part) and the ability to binge view if I wish. YES!
Binge viewing has been a bright shinning light over having to watch shows across the usual 10 month season. Take a look at How I Met Your Mother this year. 24 episodes to deal with the wedding weekend… no I’m not joking. IT’S THE LONGEST WEDDING IN HISTORY! Just get a move on. This right here, this is the reason I LOVE Netflix or any service like it. Sure it still would take up 24 episodes, but you could power through them in a weekend if you wanted, or even a day.
Chromecast also provides this service like the others before it but this time, it offers a small form factor and basic “plug & play” functionality. HOORAY! Except that TVs are shipped with built in browsers and app stores to do the same which is we are getting more of The Old New. It’s a year later and just getting to us in Canada but they were already a year behind when it launched in the US.
It’s big selling point is that if you weren’t already thinking of buying a new smart TV you could make the small purchase of $35 and upgrade your current TV to have some of these great features. With only the ability to stream, no extra connectivity via USB for other files to stream from your phone or computer is rather limiting in my view. I like versatility and the option of having the chance to view files I have downloaded but of course that’s just me.
When thinking of devices like this I always recommend looking at it from only your own personal view and comfort level. Sure, having a computer is 100% the best option for the variety of options but it isn’t always practical for many. The small box units are simple to use and easy to hide but still require a little knowledge (wiring etc.). The Chromecast is just plug & play basically so for someone looking for no fuss, no muss, it might end up being the best solution providing you don’t want to get that brand new smart TV.
Do some research before thinking you can cut ties with your cable company. It worked for me but not necessarily for you or your friends. I can binge view and see shows I haven’t watched or watched since I was a kid but sometimes I lose out on the “get it now” availability of watching it as airs for the first time on the networks.
There are always pros and cons in these cases. Also, bringing back The Old New phrase again. Sure you can trade in the cable bill but with streaming that much content like Netflix you may have to up your internet plan to handle the bandwidth being used up or for HD streaming. See, The Old New.
If nothing else, having Chromecast out there as an alternative is always good in my books. Choice is the best advantage we have right now in the tech race for the next big thing. I’m sure in 5 years we will still be talking about the next Old New.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!