Google's Chromecast is the search engine giant's latest foray into a television, and the simple device that looks like a USB drive aims to make streaming television and movies from mobile devices easier.
Plug the 2-inch Chromecast into the HDMI inputs of the television to stream content on smartphones, tablets, on the television screen using Wi-Fi.
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A far less expensive option to Apple's TV, Chromecast is $35 and conveniences users who would have to bother with hooking up their devices to the television using short auxiliary cords.
The objective is to make web content accessible across platforms and boost Google's advertising business, which already maintains a stronghold over the market as no other company sells more online search, graphical and video ads across millions of websites and apps.
"We have a multiplatform approach…and we go where the users are," Google's chief of Chrome and Android, Sundar Pichai, told the Wall Street Journal
, adding that even at the $35 price, Google and its retail partners will make a profit on sales.
Chromecast is compatible with Android smartphones, Chrome-powered laptops, and Apple's iPad and iPhone and plays content from services like Pandora, Google Music, YouTube, and Netflix. It went on sale Wednesday at BestBuy.com, Amazon.com and the Google Play online store. Early adopters recieve three months of Netflix free with their purchase.
Using Chromecast, devices can be used as a remote control to turn the TV on, raise the volume, and add more content to the streaming queue. Users will also be able to multitask without interrupting the stream, a perk that Apple TV doesn't have.
Chromecast's main competitor is Apple TV, a $99 device that uses "AirPlay" technology
and is similar to Chromecast but has more features and apps that run directly on it. Apple sold 13 million Apple TV units since its launch in 2007, with about half sold in the past year, the company said in May, according to The Journal.
Far more successful than Apple TV is Microsoft's Xbox 360 videogame console, which starts at $199 and uses similar technology called "SmartGlass" that is compatible with Apple, Android, and Microsoft software. Microsoft's newest, hotly anticipated device, the Xbox One, is a next-generation entertainment console with games, television, movies, and other entertainment. Xbox One, due out later this year, will be in a class of its own in comparison to Chromecast and Apple TV.
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Amazon.com is working on a set-top box for streaming video
and Apple too is developing television technology, people familiar with the companies' plans told The Journal.
In 2010, Google released Google TV, which is software embedded in some TVs
and separate TVs, but it failed to gain much traction. Pichai told The Journal Google will release TV devices in the future.
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