Last week, Google unveiled yet another foray into the digital TV space. But what is its new product, “Chromecast” — and how is it different?
The device is a small piece of electronics about the size of a USB thumb drive. It has an HDMI connector to connect it directly to an HDTV and uses Wi-Fi networking. With a Chromecast device plugged in, users would be able to stream web content to their TVs such as videos from YouTube (which Google owns) from devices including laptops, phones and tablets. Those devices would beam stuff to Chromecast using the Google Chrome browser, which acts as the remote control. It can stream movies and TV shows from Netflix and, presumably, other online entertainment providers as its capabilities expand.
How is it different from devices like Apple TV or Roku? For one thing, it’s much cheaper: $35 compared to $50-$100. However, Google has a spotty track record with TV products. Its ambitious Google TV set-top boxes failed to catch on since launching in 2010. At least in terms of sales, it seems to be doing well early on: Chromecast devices sold out online in less than a day.