But first… it sucks.
It sucks that Google aren’t officially selling it in Australia yet. In the US you can buy the Chromecast home-delivered for US$35. And it’s a no-brainer from what I can tell.
A Chromecast is a small Linux computer inside what looks like a USB stick. But instead of a USB connector, it has a HDMI plug on it. You stick the Chromecast into your televisual device, set it up to connect to your wireless network (I found the Android app the easiest way to go through this process). First thing it’ll do then is connect to the internet and download the latest firmware updates, and then you’re set.
Chromecast is basically a multi-media front-end PC stuck right into your television. And all your Google-based devices and apps have the potential to become a remote that can control it.
When I’m in YouTube on my Android, I can hit the Chromecast button, select the TV device by the name I’ve given it, and it’ll playback the YouTube videos that I select and control on my Android.
When I’m in Plex on my Android, I can hit the Chromecast button, select a movie, or a television program, or a music track/playlist that exists on my Plex server, and the TV will start playing it… again with my Android continuing to act like a remote control.
When I’m in Chrome on my laptop (with the Chromecast plugin installed), I can hit the Chromecast button and display my current webpage on the TV to share with everyone in the room.
It’s the cheapest media PC I’ve ever had in the living-room, and it’s by far the most satisfying. The way to use it is so simple and transparent… and from what I understand, the API is fully public, meaning that any app-developer can add a Chromecast button to their Android app and define the behaviour for the Chromecast device to follow.
I had to pay about AU$50 on eBay to buy a Chromecast from the US, but it’s easily worth it.