Google’s Chromecast came out last year in the US to near universal acclimation but our question has been when will it be coming to the UK?  Leaked documents from Dixons implied that it would be today and this turns out to be correct.  The Chromecast has rolled out in the UK, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.


So what is a Chromecast?  At first sight it looks to be a USB memory stick but actually has an HDMI connector.  It plugs into your TV and into your TV’s USB socket (or wall socket if you don’t have one on your TV) and then joins your local wifi network.  From then you use a companion device to control it and ‘cast’ content to it.  This could be a PC, a smartphone or a tablet and apps and programs need to be cast enabled to allow them to be used.  At the last count this was over 100 apps including critically an updated iPlayer, Chrome, YouTube and for those who stream local content Plex.  It can also mirror a Chrome tab from your PC allowing you to put whatever is on your PC on your TV and do a full screen mirroring, although this is experimental.

Users report that its fairly easy to control and if you have reasonable wifi works quite responsively, although I have read some reports of stuttering when mirroring HD video from the PC.  It is capable of 1080p quality depending on the material being streamed to it and will dynamically adapt to lower quality depending on the speed of the wifi and internet connection.

Apart from its simplicity its big draw is its cost.  In the US it was sold for $35 while costing £30 in the UK – an increase but still within the same bounds of cost.  Unless the idea of mirroring a Chrome tab is very important to you the Chromecast does not seem to be a improvement on most already available set-top boxes but if you have a dumb TV you want to make smart its the most economical way.

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