What’s so revolutionary about Chromecast? It’s cheaper than a tank of gas

Chromecast TV

Today, Google dropped a bomb. In the ashes and rubble you can find pieces of Apple TVs lying atop of melted and charred Xboxes – their curious Kinect eyes staring vacantly into the Roku rubble next to them. Blown up boxes of Boxees with “property of Samsung” stickers on them are scattered among some old, abandoned TiVos. In the center of the carnage, a single Logitech Google TV reaches its cord out, desperate for a plug – betrayed by its own brethren. It’s a gory sight, but a necessary one. Today, set-top boxes entered a new era. The Chromecast has arrived.

Earlier today, Google unveiled its replacement for the set-top box, and it costs $35. You can already buy it here. Using the Chromecast is simple. Plug it in; connect it to your home Wi-Fi; and you can instantly stream YouTube, Google Play, Netflix, and Pandora from any Chrome browser, Chromebook, or Android/iOS device. Streaming is as easy as clicking a little button on your screen.

It won’t be long before we get support from apps like Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Instant Video, Spotify, and more.

You may ask: What’s so great about this? The answer is simple. It’s cheap! No, Chromecast can’t do a ton yet. Right now, it’s a glorified YouTube and Netflix player, but when you get down to it, $35 isn’t a bad price for dead-simple access to Netflix and YouTube. Yeah, both of these apps are already available everywhere, but if you’ve ever tried to search YouTube videos on an Xbox, you’ve likely already pre-ordered Google’s dongle. These online services are almost always easiest to use on a phone, tablet, or PC. The problem has always been: How do we find the best way for that device to communicate with our big-screen TV? There are solutions like AirPlay, but there always seems to be a catch – like having to own a household of Apple products – to get them to work.

Chromecast is cheap enough that anyone can buy it as an afterthought. That’s the key. But that afterthought holds a lot of promise. Instead of trying to lock users into Google devices, Chromecast is compatible with almost every type of computer: Windows and Mac PCs (via Chrome browser), Android tablets, Android phones, the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the iPad. Unless you’re a BlackBerry or Windows Phone devotee, you’re all set. Soon you’ll be able to stream PC tabs from your Chrome browser, and because Google is releasing a developer kit, it won’t be long before we get support from apps like Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Instant Video, Spotify, and more.

The TV of the future may not have a set-top box beneath it. Instead, you may just have a TV you can control with every other device you own. It’s just another screen in the house.

Maybe this is all hot air, though. Maybe no one wants a $35 dongle to stream Internet TV and music. That’s possible, but judging from the response inside the Digital Trends offices, Google may have a hit on its hands. Usually, everyone on staff says “oh, that’s cool” to new devices, but this time, a huge portion of us have already bought one. It even comes with three months of free Netflix. I’ve already purchased two of them and several other writers told me they were buying them today. Anecdotal, sure, but few products have gotten us to whip out our wallets so fast.

Chromecast is exactly what the Nexus Q wasn’t. It’s cheap, it has a straightforward purpose, and it’s easy to use and set up. Google has learned a lot in a year. Some report that Google now accounts for 25 percent of all Internet traffic each day. If it keeps coming out with useful products like this, that number may grow substantially in the months ahead.

Home Theater

Amazon and Google agree to more support for each other’s streaming services

Amazon and Google have taken a major step toward thawing their relationship: YouTube will be officially supported on all Fire TV devices, and Prime Video will work on all Chromecast and Android TV devices in the coming months.
Deals

No cable? No problem: Here’s how you can watch UFC fights online

Cord cutting is a great way to save money, but watching sports online can be tricky due to restrictions. If you want to stream UFC, the world’s biggest MMA promoter has joined with ESPN to bring the action online. Here's how to watch.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Battle of the on-demand streaming giants

Trying to figure out which subscription streaming service to use while sticking to a frugal entertainment budget? Check out our updated comparison of the big three: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu.
Mobile

The Best iPhone 7 battery cases to give your phone some extra juice

The iPhone 7 doesn't have terrible battery life, but you never know when you'll need to juice up on the go. To help, here are the best iPhone 7 battery cases that can keep your smartphone charged and ready for long-term use.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Samsung Galaxy Fold woes, zombie pigs, and more

Today's topics: Samsung Galaxy Fold, Facebook A.I. voice assistants, YouTube comes to Fire TV, facial recognition on airline flights, the SpaceX DART program, Yale's zombie pigs, and much more!
Deals

Apple iPads and iPad Pros get price cuts up to $150 on Amazon

In the market for a new iPad? Now might be the time to buy -- Amazon has discounted a range of iPad models, including the 10.5-inch, 11-inch, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, plus the standard iPad.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 update gives manual control of Bright Night mode

Samsung 2019 flagship smartphone lineup is here, and there aren't just two phones as usual — there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.
Deals

The excellent Moto G6 is just $99 from Google Fi for a limited time

Getting a cheap smartphone can be a great way to squeeze value out of your dollars. Motorola's Moto G-range has always been good value, but never better than this: Get the Moto G6 for just $99 from Google Fi.
Mobile

Keep your huge phone beautiful with the best iPhone XS Max cases

Apple's iPhone XS Max might be the best large phone the company has ever released. But a bigger OLED display and body means there's more glass to crack. Keep your massive phone safe with the best iPhone XS Max cases.
Deals

Ultra Wideband is here, and you can use it with the 5G Moto Mod (and save $150)

5G is rolling out in the U.S., and Motorola’s Moto Z3 is one of the few phones that can use it. Select people can take advantage of Verizon’s 5G service and enjoy a $150 discount with the purchase of a Moto Z3 and 5G Moto Mod bundle.
Deals

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Mobile

The 15 most stylish iPhone docks and charging stands for your device

The right iPhone dock does more than just hold your phone. If you’re looking for the perfect dock for your bedroom, or one to sit discretely on your office desk, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.
Product Review

The Xperia 10 Plus feels great in your hand, but you'll still want to put it down

There has never been a better time to buy a smartphone with an unusual design, and one of the cheaper models out there vying for your attention is the Sony Xperia 10 Plus, with its 21:9 aspect ratio screen.