A cordless stream

Now supporting local platforms, Google Chromecast is ready to make an impact in Thailand

Google Chromecast Photos: GOOGLE

Google Chromecast -- the tech-titan's digital streaming box -- has been around since 2015. But while the device has existed in the wild for quite some time, it has never supported any of the apps available in Thailand, making it largely useless for Thai consumers.

This has recently changed, with streaming services Iflix and AIS Hooq announcing that their platforms will now be supported on the device. With its ability to turn any mundane TV with an HDMI port into a Smart TV capable of running online streaming apps, the Google Chromecast offers a convenient way to view content from these online platforms on your TV.

While there are admittedly plenty of other ways to stream content from your computer or phone/tablet onto your TV, none of these methods match the convenience and seamlessness of the Chromecast. At a relatively low price of 1,490 baht, the Chromecast is a great buy for any consumer of online streaming who doesn't already have a method of viewing this content on their TV.

Design

There really isn't much to say about the Chromecast in terms of outward design. Shaped like a small disc with a short HDMI cable attached to it, the Chromecast connects to one of your TV's HDMI ports, and is powered by a micro-USB adaptor. One good thing is that the entire dongle -- including its adaptor cable -- is extremely space-efficient, especially compared to the jumble of cables and wires that accompany the average set-top cable box. The device also has a magnetic back cover, allowing it to connect to the head of the HDMI cable. While most likely meant to make the device seem smaller, as well as to keep it from dangling by its HDMI cable once connected, I found that many TVs tend to position their HDMI ports in such a way that connecting the magnetic clamps seems impossible, leaving my device dangling awkwardly from my TV. This isn't an issue that will likely affect the average user, though, and it doesn't interfere with the device's functions in any way. So it's mostly just a design quirk that could've probably been polished off, though it really isn't a big deal in the big picture.

Function

The first thing you'll immediately notice about the Chromecast is that it doesn't come with a remote control of any sort. Instead, the device connects to your phone/tablet through Wi-Fi and the Google Home app, a process that is probably more lengthy than one wishes it would be. Once set up, you can stream content from any of the supported streaming services directly from your device to the Chromecast at the touch of a button, as well as control playback options directly from your device.

Currently, the services supported by the device (that are available in Thailand) include Netflix, Iflix and AIS Hooq, and the device also supports video streaming from YouTube. The Chromecast only offers support for up to 1080p resolution, however, even when connected to a 4K TV. It's probably not a big deal considering there isn't that much 4K or post-HD content available at the moment, but it's something to keep in mind.

As you can imagine, streaming films and TV shows from your phone/tablet to the app is quick and easy, and works almost instantly (though this will most likely depend on the quality of your internet connection), but that isn't all the device can do. I also found out that the Google Home app, which controls the device, also -- supposedly -- allows users to browse content from all the supported streaming apps (as long as they have a subscription to those services, of course) right from the Google Home app, though I couldn't find a way to get this function to work. It could be that the function simply isn't supported in Thailand (at least at the time of this writing).

Aside from the usual menagerie of video-streaming apps (and YouTube), the Chromecast offers music streaming services via Spotify, and can stream visuals from the Google family of apps, such as Google Docs. This gives the device some added utility on top of its main purpose as an online-streaming dongle, making it useful in out-of-home situations like meeting rooms and even classrooms.

Verdict

While it's tough to gauge the Chromecast's performance with that of its competitors -- such as the Apple TV, the Roku stick, Amazon Fire TV, etc -- since the services available on these devices weren't available in Thailand for the longest time, there is still no denying the convenience and utility offered by the Chromecast. Even if you own a smart TV, the ability to stream content from the likes of Google Drive -- or even certain games -- can't be understated, especially since the device will only continue to add support for more apps in the future.

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