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Chromecast review

Transform your old screen into a smart TV

Our Verdict

Chromecast is a cheap and easy way to get video from iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube onto your TV. We'd like more apps but at this price who's complaining?


  • It's easy to use
  • Multi-device support
  • Easy to transport
  • Cheapest media adapter


  • Not enough apps yet
  • Mirroring limited to browser tab
  • Windows Phone not supported
Ratings in depth

Streaming media around your home isn't a new idea, but the rise of internet-based on-demand services like ABC iView and Foxtel Presto means that it's becoming more and more popular as a way to watch TV.

Chromecast, then, is an inexpensive media streaming adapter that turns any HDMI-equipped television into an app-driven smart TV when paired with a phone, tablet or computer.

The total package is Google's answer to the likes of Apple TV – devices designed to take your digital content and get it up on your big screen without fuss or fiddle.

It's a very simple setup that Google's offering: the Chromecast is a small HDMI dongle that plugs directly into your TV, and connects to your Wi-Fi network.

You choose what to watch on another device, and then Chromecast streams that content from the internet directly and displays it on your TV. Curiously, it has no real interface of its own, it just sits and waits for your other devices to tell it what to stream.

On its launch in the middle of last year in the US, the Chromecast wowed with its cheap price, and it's similarly affordable in Australia: just $49 - just under half of the Apple TV's RRP. That's awesome.

chromecast uk
Chromecast is easy to set up and easy to use

But it comes with an important caveat: while the Chromecast unit itself works well right now, the services that it needs to support it are very much a work in progress, even months after its US launch.

In the US, the Chromecast app list is includes Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora and HBO Go - most of the big hitters.

However, in Australia, we're looking at a much more limited range. EzyFlix.TV has just become the first Aussie streaming video service on board.

Google's YouTube app also supports Chromecast, on both iOS and Android. But as far as the other big Australia streaming services go… you're currently out of luck.

There's no iView or SBS On Demand. No Foxtel Go or Presto. No Quickflix, no TenPlay, no or Yahoo!7 Plus7.

chromecast uk
It plugs straight into an HDMI port on your TV

Things are slightly more useful on the music front, with both Pandora and Google Play Music apps supporting the service down under. There's no Spotify, Rdio, Deezer or any of those other streaming options on board yet though.

On the upside, Aussie developers have Chromecast support for their Pocketcasts podcasting app.

We're sure that this range will expand (Google can be very persuasive…), but there are major limitations on built-in support at the moment.

Google's Chrome browser on Mac or PC lets you mirror a browser tab to your TV, meaning that you can theoretically send any of these services to your TV that way, but there are issues with this.

chromecast uk
You can mirror browser tabs from Chrome on a PC and Mac

If you stream video via the compatible apps, the content is streamed directly from the internet to Chromecast without travelling via your phone or tablet.

But if you mirror a browser tab, you're effectively streaming video to your computer from the internet via your router, then streaming it back to your router and then streaming it out once more to your TV, resulting in heavy network traffic.

If your network is flaky, this will result in choppy performance. We tested on a variety of networks and found results were variable but a clear network should be able to handle it. Browser streaming options are Extreme (720 high bitrate), High (720p) and Standard (480p).

Using Chromecast, though, it's clear that it's designed for use with portable devices in mind. You won't find a Chromecast remote in the box or a main menu tying all of the apps together like on an Apple TV or Roku 3.

Chromecast rivals

chromecast uk

All streams originate from a special "Cast" button that's built into each compatible mobile app - your device is the remote.

Currently, Windows Phone 8 users, who don't have many options among app-filled streaming technology, are totally out in the cold for Chromecast support, so you are limited to Android and iOs devices, too.

Despite these limitations from the big names, Chromecast has extra potential to it thanks to developers getting creative with the Google Cast SDK.

AllCast enables Android users to display video and photos through the Chromecast, for example, which is useful, since Google somehow neglected to add this feature to Android.

Photo Caster is a free app that enables iOS users to put their photos on-screen similarly.

Media Browser is an app for iOS and Android that streams media content stored on any computer in the house, giving the Chromecast home theater PC (HTPC) granting capabilities. You can even stream Podcasts from a few apps.

The way Apple integrated its AirPlay streaming solution deep into iOS means that it inevitably has better support when combining an iOS device with an Apple TV, but as long as developers continue to use the Cast SDK, we will inevitably see almost as widespread support for cross-platform solutions - iOS, Android and Chromecast all working together seamlessly.

Roku has its Roku SDK, but it's easier for many developers to make their apps compatible with the Android-based Chromecast. It requires a little bit of retooling rather than learning an entirely new ecosystem, as is the case with the Roku.

Between its universal nature, rock-bottom price and ease of setup, Chromecast is massively tempting as a little TV add-on.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNetwork Audio/Video Player
Wireless LANYes
Internet StreamingYes
Brand NameGoogle
Scan Format1080p
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Height12.7 mm
Width35.6 mm
Depth71.1 mm
ManufacturerGoogle, Inc
Product ModelH2G2-42
Product NameChromecast H2G2-42 Network Audio/Video Player
Product LineChromecast
Manufacturer Part NumberH2G242
Manufacturer Website Address
Maximum Memory2 GB
Scanning ModesProgressive Scan
Weight (Approximate)45.4 g