Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Chromecast, Roku and Cutting the Cord (Potentially)

It's Christmas time and we don't have a fireplace in our high rise apartment. So what's the next best thing? A video showing the Yule Log (there also is a Nick Offerman 45 minute one where he watches you and drinks whiskey and someone looped it for 10 hours, look it up on You Tube). This is playing through my Chromecast ($20) via Youtube and could be done through my Mac, iPad, or iPhone. And it looks great.

We finally gave up on our old Samsung TV and bought a new 55 inch "smart" TV from TCL with Roku included. The sound quality is great I got rid of my front speaker and subwoofer when I took my old TV to Goodwill and don't plan to buy a new one (maybe I will with Xmas gift cards). Once we connected it to our router I was surprised at how high quality the TV picture was and how fast it booted up. You can quickly go into either Roku or something like the Chromecast (below) or just turn on the cable box directly (we have xfinity). Right here at the intersection of huge amounts of online content, high bandwidth, and seamless performance you can see how cable dies (although cable provides our Internet service, but this is a parallel question).

ChromeCast is made by Google and it plus into an HDMI port on your television and connects wirelessly to your internet. While you can use Chromecast to access all kinds of TV and music content, for me the goal was to "cast" whatever I had on my laptop or iPad onto the screen. Originally I thought I could just project anything on my screen onto the TV but it turns out that the "app" or "program" specifically has to have chromecast built in and enabled. Thus for my iPad it works for the You Tube app and also for the Vice app (which I use to watch their programs). However, it doesn't work with the chrome browser app in IOS for the iPhone or iPad, probably because Google and Apple often don't play well together (Apple wants me to buy Apple TV, but that's a lot more than $20). On my MacBook, however, the chrome browser does "cast" onto the TV which enables me to show whatever I can bring up in a browser.

Unfortunately our apartment does not face the antenna for the local TV stations so it will be impossible for me to get an HD antenna and completely cut the cord unless I just want to buy something like Hulu or some other source of major network TV. But I certainly can see the possibilities once you start to control the TV from your phone, tablet or PC / Mac. It moves so much faster through content when compared with the clunky cable interface, although I really do like the ability to talk into your remote for xfinity (say "Chicago Bears" and it brings the game up).

For someone brand new on the scene I can understand how cable would just seem like an anachronism. It is a slower, lousier way to get to content that already exists digitally or streaming. Buy a new TV and connect it with more modern equipment (connectivity) and see it through their eyes.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

1 comment:

Dan from Madison said...

The content creators must be ripping their hair out. There is so much content out there that nobody can possibly even conceive of watching 1% of it. What a saturated market that is.

Personally, none of this applies to me since I pretty much only watch sports and the occasional show (SuperStore, Penn and Teller Fool Us) which I DVR. No time for much else.