Chromecast


Today I installed a Chromecast on the television in our living room.

A Chromecast is a plastic dongle, about three inches long, that plugs into an HDMI port on your TV, and, if you have one, into a USB port on the TV to draw power. Our TV, a Samsung that’s maybe four years old, doesn’t have a USB port but kindly Google provide a power adaptor so I could just plug it into the wall. The reason you’ll plug the Chromecast into your TV is to turn it into a device that’s connected to all the wonderful video on the internet, and not just a TV.

Doing this was a slightly upsetting experience as I had to fiddle with the cables in the back of the TV. In the almost-two years that the TV has been in Singapore, disgusting brown dust has settled and congealed on the back of the TV and everything sticking out of it, so that wasn’t very pleasant. Neither was fighting with an array of different cables to find some extra electricity, and finally, it was tedious when the Samsung TV decided that it wasn’t going to recognize anything plugged into the third HDMI port of the TV. Cue more yanking of cables, and a Xbox 360 that’s been removed from our world of entertainment for a little while.

These aren’t things I can criticize Google for, of course; maybe it’s just the unhelpful spirit of Samsung making life hard for everything around the TV.

After that, actual set up is pretty easy; I installed the Chromecast app onto our iPad, then struggled for ten minutes to remember what our Wifi password is. Ah, the joy of mysterious strings of text.

Once that’s done, it’s very, very easy to start playing videos on YouTube straight to the TV. It’s mildly pointless, because we have the computer wired into the TV, and that’s also capable of playing YouTube videos, we haven’t upped our capabilities much. It does mean that we don’t need to have the computer turned on though, so this may turn out to be a quicker way to watch stuff casually on the larger screen.

However, most of our media is on a big hard drive attached to the computer, and not on YouTube or accessed via Google Play or the other online stores. I wanted to test out Google Play so I bought $25 of credit in a Colorado supermarket, not realizing that it’s only usable by US residents. So that makes a fair part of what the Chromecast can do impossible or irrelevant in Singapore.

Which means if I fiddle about with VPNs I may be able to use the Chromecast to its fullest potential; for now, for people outside of the US, it feels like I may not have got so great an addition. I’ll play around more tomorrow and see what else I can make it make my TV do.

And sob about the disgusting wiring on the back of the TV.


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