Google Chromecast is a cheap and powerful way to stream video content from other devices directly onto your TV. Since 2013, Google has been updating the Chromecast and keeping it a powerhouse in the streaming industry. It’s in the same general hardware family as other streaming hardware such as Roku or Apple TV, but comes with it’s own features and advantages. The main version of the Chromecast is only $35 and is a great way to gain access to multiple streaming services without breaking the bank. It’s designed to be simple and convenient and definitely lives up to it. This guide will help you understand what a Chromecast is, what features it offers, and help you decide if it fits your cord cutting needs.
What is Google Chromecast?
Chromecast is a piece of hardware that connects directly into your TV’s HDMI port and is basically a gateway to connect a computer or mobile device to your TV. The Chromecast device itself runs a simplified version of Google’s Chrome OS that lets you “cast” media onto your TV. When you plug in the Chromecast, you can use apps on your mobile device or click a button on Google Chrome to start casting. If it wasn’t obvious, Google Chrome and Google Chromecast are both developed by the same company. This is the reason it’s so easy to cast content from Chrome or an android phone.
One thing to note about the Chromecast that isn’t so obvious is how the casting actually works. When you click on the cast button, a signal is sent to the Chromecast telling it where to find what you’re trying to stream. It then finds the TV show or movie that you were looking for on the internet and streams it directly to the TV. This is an important difference than just mirroring what’s on your device because it frees up your phone’s resources such as battery life. This is only true for casting from mobile devices. If you cast directly from your chrome browser on your computer, the Chromecast will rely on the computer’s processing power rather than its own hardware.
Types of Google Chromecast
For a majority of people, Google’s standard $35 version of the Chromecast is exactly what you’re looking for. With the ability to stream content at 1080p while supporting devices including iPhones, iPads, Android, Mac, Windows, and Chromebooks, it’s surprising the device is so cheap. Considering you can stream almost anything from a web browser and there are so many apps on the Play Store, it’s pretty easy to get $35 of value from the device.
If you’re not one of the people who is satiated by 1080p streaming and have been enjoying the life of 4K Ultra HD TVs, you have an option too. Google also offers the Chromecast Ultra. It’s $69, but worth the price increase. It supports both of the most popular types of HDR to ensure that it works with almost every 4k HDR TV. If you’re not familiar with HDR content, it increases highlight brightness and offers a deeper contrast and better color shading. One other key feature of the Chromecast Ultra vs the Cromecast 2nd Gen is that it comes with an Ethernet port. This may seem like an insignificant change, but the ability to hardwire to a more stable internet connect can be the difference between an immersive experience and jittery streaming.
According to google, the Chromecast Ultra is 1.8x faster than the 2nd generation model. With so many more 4k HD movies becoming available on the Play Store in addition to Netflix and YouTube supporting 4k, the Chromecast Ultra is looking even better; quite literally!
How to set up Chromecast
Like most things Google, the Chromecast is incredibly user friendly. The setup is almost as easy as plugging it in! The infographic below shows how to set up Chromecast 2nd Generation devices.
1- Plus (B) from the Chromecast into the HDMI port on your TV
2- Plug (A) into the back of Chromecast for power and then connect the other end to either a USB port on your TV or
3- Plug the other end of the USB cable into a wall outlet (C) if your TV has no USB port
Casting from your computer
If you’re going to stream content from your PC onto the Chromecast, as long as you have Google Chrome installed pretty much all set. Make sure your TV is on and set to the right input (HDMI). Launch Google Chrome on your computer and follow these steps:
- Navigate to chromecast.com/setup.
- Click “Set up Chromecast using this computer”
- Find the device that matches the Chromecast name displayed on your TV. It should be something like “ChromecastXXXX”. Then click Set Me Up.
- Accept the Privacy & Terms
- The setup should then automatically connect to the Chromecast Device Wi-Fi hotspot. If not, you’ll have to go to your Wi-Fi menu and choose the network that matches your Chromecast’s name and connect to it.
- After you click Next, you should see a code on your device that matches the one on your TV. If it matches, click Yes. If not, click No and repeat go back to step 5.
- You can then change the name of the Chromecast and a country. Naming the Chromecast is helpful if you have devices in more than one room and don’t want to confuse which one you’re casting to.
- Choose your Wi-Fi from the options and attempt to automatically connect. If it doesn’t connect automatically, go back to the Wi-Fi menu aand choose the one you picked in step 5.
- After the setup completes, you’ll see aa list of all the devices you can Cast to.
- To cast from Google Chrome, click on the three dots beside the URL bar. You’ll see “Cast…” that will let you choose which Chromecast device you want to mirror your computer too. Click on the correct device and you’re good to go.
Casting from a mobile device
If you want to cast onto a Chromecast connected TV with a mobile device, you need to use the Google Home app. The following steps outline how to cast from your phone to Chromecast.
- Download the Google Home app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. If you have an android device you might already have the app installed.
- Click on Devices in Google Home from the upper right corner. You might also get a prompt on the bottom of the screen asking you to set up a new device. If so, you can click on this instead of the Devices button.
- Click Continue as the Google Home app automatically sets up the Chromecast.
- Confirm that the code on the app and the TV screen match. If they do, click Yes
- Name the Chromecast and adjust privacy and guest options on the next screen.
- Choose a Wi-Fi network (Ethernet if you’re using a Chromecast Ultra) that the device will run on.
- If you want access to all of your content on your Google Account, you can sign in. This allows you to cast your movies, music, and other content you purchase through Google.
- Take the tutorial or start casting now.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Walmart sell the Google Chromecast?
Yes! Walmart does sell Chromecast. You can buy them online or pick them up in the store. You can find the Chromecast on Walmart.com. Walmart also sells the Chromecast Ultra and even ships with 2-day shipping. Walmart typically has Chromecasts listed at the same price as the Google store, so there’s no penalty to the convenience of being able to pick them up at your local store.
Can you jailbreak the Chromecast?
It is possible to jailbreak a Chromecast. However, Google rolls out software updates that sometimes removes the ability to jailbreak it. This site offers multiple ways to get cheaper access to TV without cable, but tries to avoid grey or black hat tactics to do so. Although we want to answer questions and don’t mind pointing out the possibility of jailbreaking a Chromecast, we won’t actively encourage it. A quick Google search will point you in the right direction if you must jailbreak your Chromecast, but please note that jailbreaking is not as simple as it sounds and if you’re not tech savvy, it’s probably better to avoid it.
Can you watch Pluto TV on Chromecast?
Pluto TV is able to be viewed in a web browser. If you use Google Chrome as the browser to run Pluto TV, casting it to your Chromecast is as easy as pushing the Cast button. Once you’re done following the setup steps above, just visit the Pluto TV page and start streaming!