Google Chromecast: Is it the cheapest way to show your PC screen on your TV?


It’s been exactly two weeks since Google announced its Chromecast  HDMI dongle, and since then, it’s been Chromecast, Chromecast, Chromecast. It’s one of the more unique streaming options we’ve seen, but on top of streaming video content from Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play, the Chromecast can mirror your computer’s display through your television, just as long as its through the Chrome Web browser. The device itself is only $35, which got us wondering if this is the cheapest desktop mirroring solution out there. We decided to hunt down some popular mirroring options that are available, and here’s how they all compare.

Google Chromecast

Starting off with the main device in this discussion, the Chromecast is a $35 HDMI dongle that can mirror your computer’s display wirelessly over your home Wi-Fi network. The only catch is that the content has to be going through the Chrome Web browser, so you’ll be able mirror a website and Google Docs content, but you won’t be able to mirror your actual desktop.

There are slight workarounds for this, though, one being that you can beam a piece of local content by entering the file path into the Web address bar in Chrome to have it show up on your television. This even works for locally-stored videos as well, including .MKV files.

The Chromecast can do this for just $35, on top of being able to natively stream Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play content, with more streaming options on the way from Pandora, Hulu, HBO, Vimeo, Redbox Instant, and others.

Apple TV (AirPlay)

Besides Chromecast, one of the most popular streaming options is the Apple TV. It’s a set-top box that will cost you $100, but as it stands currently, it has way more streaming options than the Chromecast, and it’s also capable of mirroring your computer’s desktop outright (without browser limitations), although only OS X machines are supported out of the box. However, you can purchase an app called AirParrot for $10 that allows Windows users to use the Apple TV for desktop mirroring. This app will also allow OS X users to mirror their displays using older Apple TV hardware.

Apple TV

If it’s desktop mirroring you’re after, the Apple TV is a good, but slightly more costly choice. However, you’ll be able to mirror your desktop without any pesky browser limitations. And while it only works with OS X naturally, a few dollars more will give Windows users the capability of using the Apple hardware to beam their computer screens to their televisions.

Veebeam HD

This isn’t quite as popular as the Apple TV, but the Veebeam HD allows you to wirelessly mirror your computer’s display to your television in 1080p, and it’s compatible with both Windows and OS X, although Lion and Mountain Lion aren’t supported, which could be a huge setback for some users.

Veebeam HD

The device allows you to stream your desktop to your TV without much hassle, as it’s pretty easy to set up and has plug-in-play capabilities. It even has a built in media player that can play your local media files with ease, including any DVDs you load up on your PC. The Veebeam HD is slightly more expensive than the Apple TV, ringing in at $130 on Amazon, and it doesn’t have any set-top box features like the Apple TV does, so if you’re wanting to take a break from mirroring and fire up some Netflix from the device itself, you’ll be out of luck with the Veebeam.

Netgear Push2TV

The Netgear Push2TV is very similar to the Veebeam, but it’s a lot cheaper at just $50. The only catch is, it utilizes Intel’s Wireless Display technology, so you’ll have to have a laptop that supports Intel WiDi before you can dig in using Netgear’s solution. Once you’ve confirmed that you have a compatible match with your hardware, it’s pretty straightforward from there.

Netgear Push2TV

Unlike the Veebeam, there’s no USB dongle that you have to plug into your computer. Since the wireless technology is built into the laptop already, it’s merely just a matter of plugging in the device and getting it set up. After the Chromecast, the Netgear Push2TV is probably the cheapest option, but you won’t get set-top box-like features with the Netgear device – just mirroring capabilities.

HDMI cable

This may seem pretty obvious, but we felt that we should include this in the roundup in order to cover all the bases. An HDMI cable is probably the cheapest way to mirror your computer display to your television. However, the biggest downside is the obvious trip hazard of the cable itself. It’s not a wireless option, and it requires you to buy a long cable that will stretch from your couch to your television, which can be anywhere from eight to 20 feet depending on the distance between the two.

HDMI cable

It’s not the prettiest option, but it’s probably the most straightforward and hassle-free solution. Plus, you won’t witness any lag that you would get if you were using a wireless solution, which almost every one of the options mentioned above will suffer from in some way, including the Chromecast. HDMI cables are pretty darn cheap too, with Monoprice selling them for as little as a couple of dollars. Just plug it in, switch the television to the appropriate input, and you’re off to the races.


So, is the Chromecast the cheapest desktop mirroring solution? Well, it’s certainly the cheapest wireless method out there, despite its current limitations, but it’s not the best mirroring solution overall. If you don’t mind having an HDMI cable laying across your living room floor, than a physical connection would not only be the cheapest mirroring option, but also the best as far as quality and reliability are concerned.


PewDiePie supporters hack printers, hope to boost his subscription numbers

In an attempt to garner more subscribers for their favorite vlogger and secure his status as having the most YouTube subscribers, PewDiePie supporters claimed to have hacked thousands of printers worldwide.

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.

The DualShock 4 is one of the best controllers ever, and you can use it with a PC

Sony's new DualShock 4 controller has become a fan favorite, and some people want to use it with a PC. Here's how to connect your DualShock 4 and start using it, either with an official adapter, or unofficial software.
Home Theater

5 sonic stocking stuffers to improve your loved ones’ listening life

Looking for some simple and affordable gifts to get the music nerd in your family? Here are five great gift ideas that will improve their listening life -- and won't cost you an arm and a leg to give them.

Need to record calls on an iPhone? Check out our handy guide

Are you wondering how to record calls on your iPhone? It isn't as easy as you might think, but we'll walk you through the process of doing so with Google Voice, and identify several other apps and external voice recorders that can help.

Chrome fights manipulative sites that don’t allow you to hit the back button

Have you encountered a webpage that won't let you hit the back button? Someun scrupulous websites employ what's known as history manipulation, preventing you from hitting the back button, but now Google Chrome will be fighting back.

Forget painting-style transfers, this A.I. creates realistic portraits of fake people

Do these images look computer-generated? Nvidia researchers recently published a paper on a new variation on style transfer artificial intelligence that's able to generate entirely new portraits.

With our Steam guide, you can give the gift of gaming this holiday season

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.

Leaked HP laptop listing reveals entry-level Nvidia MX250 GPU

Alongside powerful graphics cards, Nvidia may have more mobile GPUs to show off at next year's CES show in January. The MX250 has been spotted in a listing for an HP laptop, potentially replacing the entry-level MX150.

ZSpace’s laptop brings education to life with its own 3D technology

The ZSpace laptop wants to overhaul education and training by offering affordable access to 3D mixed reality through a bespoke screen and glasses technology that is already supported by a wide array of applications.

Former Microsoft intern claims Google may have sabotaged Edge browser

Google's Chrome web browser has been able to establish such dominance that Microsoft is abandoning its web rendering engine, switching Edge over to Chromium, but did Google play dirty in an attempt to force Microsoft to make the decision?

ViewSonic’s 1080p gaming monitor lets you experience the action in style

ViewSonic is catering to gamers with its latest monitor, the XG240R. Featuring a 1080p 144Hz panel, RGB lighting, and a fast 1ms response time, you can conquer your opponents and do it in style.

Here’s why you might still be using Wi-Fi after cellular 5G launches

Cellular 5G might be around the corner and promising to deliver lightning fast speeds, but the folks over at the Wi-Fi Alliance have a few reasons why they think you shouldn't dump Wi-Fi just yet.

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.