As of mid-2016, we can firmly say that you should not buy a smart TV. 5 reasons why you shouldn't buy a smart TV. 5 reasons why you shouldn't buy a smart TV. It is undeniable that smart TVs are already obsolete, and right now, the choice to buy a smart TV would not be a smart one. This is why. Read more . No matter what TV you have, you'll need an external device that adds the smarts. For most people, the first choice is Google's Chromecast, a much-loved device that costs just $35. But maybe, just maybe, it's not right for you...
The Chromecast is a fantastic device Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway We're giving away Google Chromecast, so read our review, then join the competition to win. Read More But if you thought it would turn your TV into a full-fledged smart TV, you're wrong. Indeed, even as a media device for your television, it has significant limitations that you need to be aware of. That $35 price tag, however, is hard to resist.
Intel launched the Compute Stick for $149 Intel Compute Stick turns any TV into a Windows PC for just $149 Intel Compute Stick turns any TV into a Windows PC for just $149 Read More big difference between $35 and $149. but then Intel updated the Compute Stick in 2016. As a result, the original first-gen Compute Stick is now available for $69 on Amazon. And that changes the game..
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In this way, the limitations of the Chromecast, compared to a full stick PC, become more prominent. We know that media players, media players and HTPCs have different uses, media streamers, media players or HTPCs - which one is for you? Media Streamer, Media Player or HTPC:Which one is for you? Read more.
What's right for you may not be right for your grandpa who just wants to watch YouTube videos of his favorite shows on TV. But for true geeks, the Chromecast has some issues that might make a test PC a better option.
The Chromecast is limited by what apps support it. No, you can't run just any video app on your phone or laptop and expect to see it on your big screen TV.
Take Amazon Video, for example. It has some great shows that make Amazon Prime worth the subscription. 10+ TV Shows That Make Amazon Prime Worth the Money 10+ TV Shows That Make Amazon Prime Worth the Money Netflix is undoubtedly the king of movie and TV show streaming services. However, Amazon Prime does have some great TV shows that make it worth the asking price. Read More And so you can't get Amazon Prime on your TV.
Similarly, let's say you were going to download the Star Wars Digital movie collection on iTunes. Unfortunately, you can't cast an iTunes movie to Chromecast. To do so, you will first need to remove your DRM via M4VGear. Remove DRM from iTunes Videos Quickly and Easily With M4VGear Remove DRM from iTunes Videos Quickly and Easily with M4VGear M4VGear simply takes downloaded DRM videos from iTunes and makes them DRM-free Plus, then cast local media from your Mac to Chromecast How to cast local media from your Mac to Chromecast How to cast local media from your Mac to Chromecast You can cast any movie, music, or photo from your Mac's hard drive to the big screen. It's just a matter of knowing which apps and tools can do it. Read more . It is a long process, and not the simple one. “just play” experience what your grandfather is looking for.
Sure, there's a workaround to cast your entire screen to the TV, but it's also fraught with problems, from audio-video sync issues to not being able to use your phone for anything else.
Unless the apps you want are on Chromecast, it's basically useless. Here is a full list of apps supported by Cast. For the disappointment of finding out the day you want to see the big game on the big screen? Immeasurable.
When you are using the Chromecast, your WiFi router must have an active connection to the Internet. Yes, even if you're casting a video from your phone to your Chromecast, and it's all local content, the internet connection must be active.
It's a crazy requirement as it renders the Chromecast useless without an active WiFi connection. If my internet connection is down for some reason, that shouldn't stop my local files from being detected and played, but for some reason, that's the limitation Chromecast imposes.
Reddit has discovered a possible workaround where you set up a mobile hotspot on your phone, pair it with your Chromecast, start the video, and then turn off mobile data. But that's ridiculous.
That would mean no email updates, social media notifications, or messages from friends while you're watching the video. Without an active WiFi connection available, the phone's mobile data is my gateway to the internet, so disabling that to watch a video is idiotic.
The bottom line is that the Chromecast is useless without an active internet connection. You Better Try Fixing Your Wireless Internet Connection How To Fix Your Wireless Internet Connection In Windows How To Fix Your Wireless Internet Connection In Windows Are you struggling to get a strong and stable wireless Internet connection? It could be the hardware or Windows itself causing the problem. Here are some troubleshooting tips. Read more than anything with your Chromecast.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) protect you by masking your identity online. They're also a brilliant way to watch everything on Netflix, no matter where you live. How to watch everything on Netflix. It doesn't matter where you live. How to watch everything on Netflix. It doesn't matter where you live. We explore why Netflix content differs from country to country. and how you can watch everything on Netflix regardless. Read more . Unfortunately, you can't do that with a Chromecast.
If you are using a VPN, the Chromecast will not support it. The only way to do this is if you use a router-level VPN and not a device-level VPN, which is a complex procedure. Just check out this long and complicated article on how difficult it is to use Chromecast with a VPN.
Also, VPNs are more common than you think. Several offices use VPN as a privacy and security measure. In fact, you should use a VPN in many cases that you shouldn't. 8 Instances You Weren't Using a VPN But Should Have:The VPN Checklist 8 Instances You Weren't Using a VPN But Should Have Been:The VPN Checklist , Now is the time. Read More And even though Netflix has removed proxies, there are VPNs that still work with Netflix. Which VPNs still work with Netflix? Which VPNs still work with Netflix? Netflix is cracking down on VPNs, but there are some that still work. Here are the best VPNs to use with Netflix. Read more.
The biggest downfall of the Chromecast is its lack of a simple web browser. It's so dependent on apps that you can't just launch Chrome and go to a website. It's a media streamer, yes, but it chooses what media it can stream by restricting its options on the open internet.
And even now, you will find certain streams that are available only on Flash-based sites. Yes, Flash needs to die. Why The Flash Must Die (And How You Can Get Rid Of It) Why The Flash Must Die (And How You Can Get Rid Of It) The Internet's relationship with the Flash has been rocky for a while. Once, it was a universal standard on the web. Now, it looks like you can head to the cutting block. What changed? Read More This is mainly because high resolution HTML5 streams for events like live sports require powerful hardware. This is why live sports in web browsers often use Flash, which is lighter on resources.
An illustrative example of this is how the BBC iPlayer, available for Chromecast, cannot broadcast live sports. But you can view them through a browser on a computer that supports Flash; but not with HTML5.
It's one of the most puzzling things about the Chromecast. Here is a smart device, built for the 21st century, intended to be used for streaming media; and yet it does not support Bluetooth audio. No, you can't just cast your video to your TV and put on one of your favorite Bluetooth headphones. Buy wireless headphones? 6 things you need to know to buy wireless headphones? 6 things you need to know Are you planning to buy wireless headphones? Here's what you need to know about pricing, forms, technical specifications, and more. Read More Audio is also mandatory on your TV.
So even if you want to watch your shows without disturbing others in the house, you can't just use a simple pair of wireless headphones. It has become a bit of a joke that a Netflix engineer quickly put together the “Quiet Cast” demo above, which topped our list of Netflix Hacks You Wish Were Real 10 Netflix Hacks You Wish Were Real 10 Netflix Hacks You Wish Were were real From time to time, Netflix gives its developers a break to work on passion projects. It's called Netflix Hack Day and it leads to some pretty cool innovations! Here are our favorites. Read more.
Besides the famous Intel Compute Stick (UK), there are many other stick PCs. The RKM MK802IV LE is one of the cheapest Linux computers you can buy, and the Quantum Access Mini PC [UK] (read our Quantum Access Mini PC Stick Review and Quantum Access Mini PC Stick Review giveaway and giveaway An Experience Full Windows in a One small, affordable package. It competes with the Intel Compute stick, but it's $20 cheaper. Is this the mini PC you've been waiting for? (Answer:Probably Read More) is a cheaper version of the Intel stick.
The bottom line is that while these may look like Chromecasts, they are adequate PCs running a desktop operating system (OS) like Windows or Linux. Most of them are compatible with Windows 10, in fact, and that alleviates all the above problems.
A quick note, before we finish. These PCs need a keyboard and mouse, which seems like a lot of hassle compared to Chromecast. “phone only” utility. Okay, do not worry. Intel has released the Intel Remote Keyboard to turn your Android phone or tablet into a keyboard + mouse How to turn your Android phone or tablet into a mouse and keyboard for Windows How to turn your Android phone or tablet into a mouse and keyboard for Windows Imagine Could you control your Windows PC with your Android? The Intel Remote Keyboard turns your phone into a mouse and keyboard for your Intel PC. We show you how it works. Read More
I should note that I came to this conclusion after being a happy Chromecast user for a long time. There was always something or the other that I couldn't see on my Chromecast, and it was a frustrating experience.
Today, I have a PC and a Chromecast connected to my TV, and I couldn't be happier. But with a gun to my head, if you told me I could only have one device, I'd pick the lever PC.
What's wrong with you? What would you buy between a Chromecast and a stick type PC or of course a proper HTPC to turn your TV into a true smart TV? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.