Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Google released Chromecast in the UK last week.
Chromecast is a dongle that fits in the HDMI slot of a TV, and to all intents and purposes turns a TV into an internet-enabled TV for just £30. The dongle connects to your wifi and then allows you to send content to it from a phone, tablet or computer, including YouTube, iPlayer, and Netflix.
I've had mine for nearly a week now and I love it. At £30 it's about the same price as the Freeview boxes when they became popular, and I think that it could have nearly as big an impact.
Last night a friend and I sat on the sofa, taking it in turns to play YouTube videos on my TV (a 1970s documentary about British Hell's Angels, the trailer for 20 Feet From Stardom, some episodes of The Muppet Show...) and it was such great fun. (I know you've been able to do this for ages on gaming consoles and on Cable, but I don't have either of those.)
It's clear that some wrangling went on prior to launch in the UK. The BBC is there with iPlayer, but there's no 4oD, no Sky (& Sky's 'First Episodes' on YouTube are blocked), and no LoveFilm (owned by Amazon, who will have their own dongle out soon). My only other negative is that you're expected to keep it plugged in all the time - there's no on/off switch - but I'd recommend you unplug it, and plug it in when you need to use it.
For me, though, it's pretty revolutionary. I watch mainly BBC shows, and so it's perfect for my needs. It puts a new perspective on the BBC's decision to take BBC3 off digital broadcast - you can still watch shows on TV very easily via this. Also, it gives the lie to Noel Edmonds' assertion that the BBC is sleepwalking into the future - they clearly know far more about the future than he does (especially as he describes us as 'living in a world of Google and Microsoft')
I won't be cancelling Sky yet - their 'Sky Atlantic' strategy has got me hooked on both True Detective and Girls, which I can't get elsewhere (& obviously the new series Mad Men is coming), but it's taken me closer to cancelling it.
If it were November I'd be buying them for friends and family as Christmas presents. (My friend bought her own last night on Amazon on her phone).