It has been a long time since the first digital media player was first introduced to the market. Back in the 90’s, home video entertainment systems were limited to Cathode Ray Tube Televisions, with cassette tapes and compact disc players for audio systems. These gadgets became the main source of entertainment to many people and these items were considered to be “hi-tech” during that time.
People started to become more demanding for gadgets which they can carry more comfortably and at the same time, can fit in well with the other gadgets around. This gave Google an idea to develop a more portable device where users can watch, listen, and view digital media content through integration with Smart TV’s and personal computers. This led to the creation of the wonderful tiny Chromecast!
All About Digital Media Players
Digital Media Players or DMP’s only came out during the year 2000. These Digital Media Players are devices that can connect to the internet to stream live media such as music, videos, and pictures. The DMP can be attached to personal computers, Smart TV’s, or projectors in order to playback audio and visual media.
The Digital Media Player basically connects to the internet so you can watch and listen to online media from websites like YouTube, Spotify, HOOQ, Netflix, Vimeo, and others.
Some models of Digital Media Players have the capability to store media contents for later viewing. These devices can carry or attach external storage devices like memory cards and external hard disks. These Digital Media Players are sometimes called HD or HDD Media Players because of the hard disk drive that can be installed or attach to them.
The DMP’s should not be mistaken to be the same as portable media players like CD players, MP3 players, and other mobile devices. These portable media players are specifically designed to store digital contents like audio, video, and pictures for later use but they don’t need to be connected to the internet to stream. These devices may still be connected to personal computers and Smart TV’s for playback but their main purpose is just to playback what is stored in them.
The Chromecast Invasion
The Chromecast is developed by Google to allow users to stream live internet contents through their personal computers and Smart TV’s. It went from an older 1st generation before it upgraded to the 2nd generation which branched out to two variants. The two variants that emerged from the 2nd generation are the Chromecast Audio and the Chromecast Ultra.
The 1st Generation was made available to the market in the middle of 2013 in the US with an introductory price of $35. It is then followed by the 2nd Generation on September of 2015. The 2nd Generation was accompanied by its audio version called the Chromecast Audio.
After a year, the latest version called Chromecast Ultra was released. The Chromecast Ultra now has the ability to support 4K resolution.
Chromecast is a Digital Media Player with just the size of an ordinary USB flash drive stick. This device can be attached to a personal computer or a Smart TV to stream audio and visual digital contents from the internet. The Chromecast also allows you to start and control all the playback features of the online media accessed. You may control it using mobile devices and applications installed.
In order to stream media contents from the internet using the Chromecast, you can either use the mobile applications that support Google Cast or you can use a mirroring capability of the Google Chrome on your PC to your Android device.
When using Google Cast-capable mobile applications, you can connect your Chromecast to your Smart TV and control it using the application on your mobile device. The controls include program selection, play, and volume adjustment.
For Google Chrome mirroring on your personal computers, you can connect your Chromecast device to your personal computer and utilize the Cast feature on your Android mobile device. When you Cast, you are actually mirroring the interface of Google Chrome from your PC to your Android device.
If you are not streaming audios or videos, Chromecast devices can create a background layout on your screen made of images, weather forecasts, and current news.
An update for the Chromecast Audio was made in the latter part of same year. The update allowed the Chromecast Audio to support higher quality audio.
The Chromecast is basically just like a USB flash disk in size and look. You need to connect it to the Smart TV or personal computer via the HDMI port. It also has a micro USB port where its power will be coming from. The micro USB can be connected to an external power supply or your computer’s USB port. For the Chromecast Audio model, an integrated 3.5 mm audio jack/socket will be used to complete the interface with your devices.
The 1st Generation Chromecast has a 512 MB RAM with 2 GB of storage. This device resembles more like a typical USB flash disk stick. The HDMI plug is fitted on the device’s body. The display can deliver up to 1080p through the HDMI output.
The 2nd Generation Chromecast has a more different look than the 1st Generation Chromecast because of its disc-shaped figure. The disc-shaped body has the Google Chrome logo on it. For the connection, the HDMI plug is attached to the body by a short flexible flat wire. This is expected to have a faster Wi-Fi performance than the 1st Generation Chromecast.
The 2nd Generation Chromecast has a variety called the Chromecast Audio. This device is specialized for audio streaming applications in the internet. Instead of the flat HDMI flexible wire, the Chromecast Audio has an integrated 3.5mm audio jack/socket that can be directly connected to the speakers.
The last and most upgraded type of the Chromecast is the Chromecast Ultra. This can produce HDR and 4K videos. This device also boasts to deliver faster connections than the previous models.
The two main software and applications that Chromecast utilizes are the Google Chrome and Google Cast.
Google Chrome is basically the Google web browser that we are all familiar with. It is a freeware browser that was first launched in 2008. Chromecast uses this program to mirror the contents from a PC (via Chrome) to an Android mobile device. Once this happens, the user may now control and navigate streaming functions from the mobile device.
Google Cast also plays a similar role just like what the Google Chrome does. The Google Cast directly links the Smart TV, for example, to a Google Cast supported device to navigate the contents.
Chromecast is definitely a great new technology to allow people to watch on a bigger screen or listen to music even if you don’t have your music device with you.
One benefit of using a Chromecast is its portability and convenience to the user. For normal hang outs with friends, you don’t have to bring your laptop or computer with you to let your friends watch your favorite videos from YouTube. Rather than watching on your small mobile phone screen at the same time, you can simply plug the Chromecast to a Smart TV and let everybody enjoy the show.
The best part of this is that Chromecast is affordable!
These disadvantages can only be considered as limitations because the Chromecast is built to provide benefits to users. Having disadvantages would defeat its purpose of giving convenience.
The limitations are quite obvious once you use it. Given that the device is built by Google, the applications stored are less than what it can actually do. Using only the Chrome to mirror the navigation is just fine but making it more adaptable to different programs would make it much better.
In terms of mirroring, the navigation seems a bit sluggish and not as smooth as expected. Because of this, adding a dedicated remote control would fix the problem and make the performance smoother.
Another limitation of this device is that it still needs an external power supply to function. It may not be a big issue but having another source of power can make it a better DMP device.
Chromecast is very compatible to many devices. Being Wi-Fi enabled, it can easily utilize mobile tablets and phones with Android 4.1 and above. The mirroring capability allows it to be used in almost all of the Android devices around. For computer systems, you can use it on Mac, Windows, or ChromeOS.
Chromecast versus other Streaming Devices
With it being very small, other Digital Media Players are already overtaken in terms of portability. It is very easy to bring Chromecast anywhere. If you are in a friend’s house, you can easily bring it and set it up. It takes up very little space unlike the conventional top boxes.
The idea of being very portable is reinforced by making your smartphone your remote control. It instantly beats the conventional set top boxes in terms of portability because you only need to bring the small Chromecast anywhere without having the trouble of bringing a separate remote control.
Chromecast is inexpensive. Pricing at only $35, you can now stream your favorite online media almost anywhere. Some stores even sell this for discounted prices.