Google introduces $35 device that streams video to your TV - CNN.com
Google rolled out a new Nexus 7 tablet on Wednesday. But a much smaller, much cheaper new gadget may be the one that makes a seismic impact in the consumer technology world.
Chromecast is a glorified thumb drive that enables Web streaming to television. At $35, it's also practically free, considering that it comes packed with three free months of Netflix.
Streaming media onto the (relatively) big screen is nothing new. Set-top boxes like Roku and Boxee have provided the service, at least in part, for years. More recently, Google's now-defunct Nexus Q has battled Apple TV for the hearts and minds of consumers who have grown used to on-demand video on their laptops, tablets and even phones.
With Chromecast, though, Google appears to have stripped down Web streaming to its purest elements.
"It looks like they have learned from their mistakes, and radically simplified the experience," Janko Roettgers wrote for tech blog GigaOM. "Gone are the attempts to integrate existing pay-TV offerings, recruit app developers for yet another medium and ship devices with hideous, complicated remote controls.
"Instead, Chromecast is pure simplicity: Search and discovery of video content is happening on the mobile device or laptop, and all Chromecast does is stream media from the cloud."
Google and Apple have both tried and, at least so far, largely failed to make inroads into the living room with streaming TV products. Google TV struggled to get some major content providers to play ball. And Apple CEO Tim Cook has acknowledged that Apple TV has languished as more of a novelty for diehard fans than a mass-market success.
(A full-on Apple TV set, which has been the tech world's most-anticipated piece of rumored vaporware for the past couple of years, could of course change that).
Those products, along with Roku, Boxee and the like, have been, in a way, similar to traditional TV. Approved "channels," chiefly Netflix, Amazon and other Web video services, are available. But Chromecast takes streaming to a whole new level -- offering a quick, simple version of what tech-inclined folks have been able to accomplish by rigging up their laptops or desktops with their TVs.
Essentially, if you can watch it on a computer, tablet or phone screen, you'll be able to watch it on your TV.