Although we did do some smelting over Easter Weekend, today’s blog post has nothing to do with the element Chromium or metallurgy at all.

A while back I picked up a Chromecast for my TV. For years I’ve had my TV hooked up to my PC either through VGA or an HDMI connection.

I haven’t had cable service in years. Last time I can remember paying for cable television would have been when Erin (an ex-girlfriend of mine) and I were renting that house just south of UofA. That would have been 8-9 years ago already… Holy F*&%, time moves fast and I’m getting old!

Um, back to the topic at hand, it has occasionally come in handy to be able to move any arbitrary window over to the television. Most often though I would just move a youtube or VLC window over to play through the TV.

The downside with that is the cable that then ties the PC to the TV. On VGA this problem was the worst because of the length limitations for VGA cables. HDMI was quite a bit better because I could get a 30Ft HDMI cable. I’ve actually been using the HDMI route for the past 5 or so years.

There are two main downsides to this though. First, even with a super long HDMI cable, the cable is still required. So ideas like moving the PC to my bedroom doesn’t really work out well. The other limitation is that connecting the TV directly to the PC means the TV is now using resources I could otherwise have used for a second or third monitor.

Enter the Chromecast. It is a little USB Key sized HDMI dongle. Essentially it is a tiny little linux computer stuffed into a tiny dongle. You plug it into the HDMI input on your TV and to a USB power source.

The main feature is that you can "cast" your media from a device on the network to the Chromecast. Or in other words, you can share your screen and various programs with the Chromecast device using just the wireless network you probably already have. It supports Youtube and Netflix, and anything that you can display in a chrome browser tab on a PC. On top of all that, the VLC group is working on support for the Chromecast streaming protocols.

So now I can still do the same things that I found most handy like sharing an arbitrary browser window and playing youtube or netflix videos but my PC is no longer physically connected to the TV.

The Chromecast is not completely without its problems either though. Frequently, my tablet or my phone will be unable to find or connect to the Chromecast. From my googling it looks like the only answer that consistently works is to reset your router. Apparently the kinks are still being worked out. On top of that there are a limited number of programs that can cast media to the device. I’m hoping that the VLC Chromecast support will open the floodgates though.

All in all, I would highly recommend the Chromecast to anybody that is interested. It’s super cheap, really easy to set up and use, and app support is slowly growing.

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