Google’s Chromecast is a great gadget that plugs into a TV’s HDMI socket and it enables you to watch movies, videos and photos, listen to music, and play games. Here’s how to set it up.

In some ways, Chromecast is Google’s answer to Apple TV, but it is actually a different type of gadget. The Chromecast is a device that links a phone or tablet to the TV through a wireless connection. It joins your home network and both Android and iOS phones and tablets can send it movies, video clips, music, photos, games and so on. You can view all your media content and games on the big screen TV in your home.

It works slightly better with Android than it does with iOS, but the iPad and iPhone support it too. Run Google Play Movies and TV on your Android or iOS phone or tablet and you can cast it to the TV with two taps on the screen. One to open the Cast menu and the other to select the Chromecast device to send it to, in case you have several, such as one on each TV in your home.

Chromecast vs Apple TV

The main difference between a Google Chromecast and an Apple TV is that the latter is a smart device that can work on its own. Plug in the Apple TV and you can watch movies on Netflix and other services, listen to music and run apps, including games. It has its own content, comes with a remote control, and nothing else is needed.

Chromecast just connects your TV to the Wi-Fi network in your home and it has no other function. No apps, no services, and no content. To watch Netflix for example, you run the app on an Android or iOS phone or tablet and use the Cast function send the output to the TV. Your phone or tablet is the source of the content and it also acts as the remote control.

Which is best?

Here in the UK the Chromecast is £30 (US $45), but the Apple TV is £129 (US $191). Chromecast is much cheaper and you could buy one for each TV in your home for less than one Apple TV. The gaming capabilities of Apple TV are useful and you don’t need to worry about the battery on your phone or tablet dying half way through a movie.

Each platform has its fans and both devices are very different. It is not a case of one being better than the other and it depends on what you want. You can mix and match them in the home with the Apple TV on your main television in the lounge and Chromecasts in the bedroom, study and so on.

Set up a Chromecast

Let’s take a look at setting up a Chromecast. An Android phone will be used because that’s what most people will use. However, there is a Chromecast app for iOS too, and setting up a new device should be very similar.

Plug the Chromecast into the TV’s HDMI socket and the power lead into the Chromecast. You might need to select the input source using the TV remote, but the TV might automatically detect it and switch to it anyway.

The TV tells you to go to a weblink in a browser on your phone or tablet. This is just a roundabout way of getting you to the Chromecast app in the store. Install the app and run it. The Chromecast is automatically detected and this one is called Chromecast0029. Tap the SET UP button.

Google Chromecast  Google Chromecast

The television displays a code, P4M4 in this case.

Google Chromecast

The Chromecast app displays the same screen with the same code, P4M4. Tap the I SEE THE CODE button. (Tap the other button if you don’t see the code - you could have several Chromecasts in the home and the app needs to link to the right one to set it up.) You can name the Chromecast and call it anything you want. I just knocked off the 0029 and called it Chromecast because I only have one, but you could call them lounge, bedroom, study and so on.

Google Chromecast app  Google Chromecast app

The Chromecast needs to connect to your Wi-Fi network. There is a network selector at the top and it will probably be automatically selected, but if you have several strong Wi-Fi networks around you, you might need to select the one to use. Tap and enter the Wi-Fi password. The app may download an update, after which, you can press CONTINUE.

Google Chromecast  Google Chromecast

The Chromecast is now connected to the Wi-Fi network and as soon as it has internet access, it checks for updates, downloads them, installs them and reboots.

Google Chromecast setup

The Chromecast is now ready. It displays photos on the TV like a screensaver.

Google Chromecast TV

The app on the phone or tablet also says you are ready. Press BROWSE YOUR CAST APPS. This lists apps that can send video and audio to the television.

Google Chromecast setup  Google Chromecast setup

Select an app, such as Google Play Movies, select a movie, and press the Cast button at the top (the rectangle). Select the Chromecast to send the output to - I only have one and it’s called Chromecast, but you could have several in your home.

Google Chromecast  Google Chromecast app

Some apps, mainly media players, have a Cast icon. You might be able to press it before starting the media playback or you might start it and then press it. Just look for the Cast button. The Chromecast app does not need to be running. Just run the media player, such as Netflix.

You can also mirror whatever is one the Android phone or tablet screen. This enables you to cast anything, such as photos, games, web browsing, music and so on. Run the Chromecast app, press the menu button in the top left corner and select Cast screen/audio. Tap the button, select the Chromecast device to send output to and from them on, everything on the Android device’s screen is mirrored on the TV.

 

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