A cheep way to turn your TV in to a smart TV and stream media to it.
Until now if you wanted to watch online videos on your TV you would have had to have an expensive Smart TV or have a Complicated streaming device set up on your TV.
Googles Chromcast is USB sized, cheap and easy to setup. The chromecast plugs in to your TV using a HDMI port and is powered it off of a USB port on your TV or from the mains. It takes as little as 3 minutes to get it working once its plugged in, it needs to be configured using your web browser on your computer or the free iOS or Android app for your smartphone.
Chromecast was designed to be used in conjunction with apps on iOS, Android or ChromeOS devices, these apps included YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Google Play and Netflix. Playing content can take as little as two button presses, it seemed to work flawlessly. If you use an Android device the playback controls will show up on the lock screen, which is nice and convenient.
When used like this, Video is not streamed from your device to the Chromecast instead it is streamed directly to the Chromecast, your devices is just the remote control. Do it this way ensures your device is free for other tasks, and also allows you to put your device to sleep and not worry about interrupting playback. The only way you can stream media that is stored on your device to the Chromecast is to use apps like LocalCast for Android, which works well enough, but tends to have a clumsy interface. There are equivalent apps for iOS devices but they to tend to work poorly.
There is another way you can stream whatever is being displayed on an open Chrome tab on your PC, Mac, or Chromebook to your Chromecast (which Google is calling tabcasting) but its only a beta version. Using it this way gives you access to services were there is not an official Chromcast app. It worked fine when showing photos from Flicker; but videos from 4OD and music from Spotify would not play properly. You can also drag and drop an MP4 video file that you have stored on your Computer into a Chrome tab so it can be played on the Chromcast, But for smooth play back you need a powerful computer and it tends to work better with standard definitions videos not HD videos.
The Chromecast device generally works well and is relatively cheap, there are a few compatible apps for the device at present, but using your mobile or laptop to control the device wont be for everyone. There could be more apps in the future making it more compatible, but for now there is are better choses out there like the Apple TV or the Now TV.