Posted on 27 December 2013.
Google came out with an innovative product at an amazing price. For just $35 you can get a clever HDMI device to plug into your Hi-Def TV to receive broadcast video from nearly any wireless device in your home.
But as great as it is, it still sucks one approximate pail of floppy donkey dicks.
With this affordable device you can stream Hulu-Plus (not the real Hulu, but the one you have to pay for,) Pandora and YouTube. You can also stream anything that shows up on Google Chrome, which is nearly everything, save for a ton of the things you actually want.
If you have files saved locally to your hard drive, you might be disappointed when you try to play them. You can drag files and drop them in the address bar, and early tests said many files would work just fine.
There are literally zero files from the various cameras I’ve owned over the past few years that will play in Google Chrome. Many of the video files I get to review won’t play, which is a bummer.
I installed MyPlex to work around it, but it’s a weak workaround. It’s a tricky, mostly terrible interface. It tries to do too much without actually doing the one, basic thing you want it to. That’s no good, Google.
In a perfect world, Google would make a local player that allows for browsing by folder. Short of that, they could just support a wider variety of files in the damn Chrome browser.
Maybe Google knows better than I that I don’t really want to see my family videos again, or the home videos my friends share with me. I can admit, these are likely painfully awful videos, but seriously, if there was just even a half-assed attempt to accept a reasonable range of modern filetypes, I’d rate this a must-buy device… but it doesn’t, so I can’t.
I’ll still say it’s pretty good, and that it’s something you should think about, but the market for it as of now is pretty limited. You have to be tech savvy, you have to only desire a narrow range of filetypes to be supported, and you have to be patient as hell, since it’s still equally buggy. Equally buggy as hell.
Disclaimer: Google didn’t give me a Chromecast, I bought it myself. The only thing they ever gave me in the 8-years I’ve been working with them was a free lava lamp for participating in a marketing test, and it died within a month. I can’t say I’m not in anyone’s pocket, but I’m definitely not in theirs.