Google's take on an AirPlay like universal streaming service is hugely impressive, not just for its price, but because it works well, on many platforms.

And yet, it's only just begun - there's lots more Google will likely add to Chromecast in the near future.


The obvious downside to things having only just begun is that the number of services available is limited. If you have a Smart TV with iView and Foxtel Go already available, it might not look all that exciting.

And you'd be right, at least for now. But for those with older TVs and a phone or tablet, it's already one of the cheapest ways to get yourself some key on-demand services.


We hope that developers will also be able to work in some other interesting Chromecast options for the future, provided the technology allows it - something equivalent to the big-screen gaming that AirPlay enables for Apple users would be great to have cross-platform, for example.

We liked

Chromecast is brilliantly easy to set up, gave us little hassle after the first few minutes, and then worked really well.

You quickly become accustomed to the idea of just reaching for your phone and beaming something over to it - just like the future should be.

The streaming quality is generally very good, and it's quite reliable, especially for a product that's still fairly early in its life. It's also impressive that it works so well on all platforms.

At $49, we definitely like the price. It's well into impulse-buy territory, and we do think it's worth picking one up just for its potential, even if you already have a way to stream the services it currently works with.

We disliked

The lack of apps is the simple, major problem. Chromecast is fairly well-supported in the US, but here in Australia, it needs fleshing out.

YouTube is big, but it's only one part of it. While we understand why Google made the Chromecast work only with content streamed from apps, the occasional inflexibility that brings can be disappointing.

And while it is broadly reliable, it does feel like a bit more polish would improve things further – faster loading of videos in some apps, broader support in basic Android apps, stronger streaming from desktops, for example.

Verdict

Chromecast is an inexpensive, easy-to-use way of accessing streaming on your TV. Netflix and iPlayer are a reasonable start, but it needs a broader range.

If it cost more, we'd say to hold off and wait to see if a wider array of apps appears, and that's probably true if you already have something that can stream common services, such as a PS3 or even an Apple TV.

But for $49, Chromecast is fun enough, robust enough and has enough potential that we've no problems recommending it to anyone without a smart TV.