What is Chromecast, what is it for and how does it work?

Everything you need to know about Google Chromecast: versions, functions, applications, tricks and much more. A cosa serve Google Chromecast? If you don't have Google's small but useful streaming device yet, you've probably wondered at some point what the reason for such fame is and why this gadget has become one of the best-selling and most successful Google products ever.

Well, there are several reasons that justify the triumph of this accessory from just over 30 euros, and in this article we are going to put on the table all information who should know who does not yet have a Google Chromecast: what it is, how it works and what it is for Google Chromecast.

What is Google Chromecast and how it works

Google itself defines the Chromecast a device that, connected to the HDMI port of any TV, is able to stream television programs and series, movies, games and much more through another device. 

When purchasing the Chromecast, we will find the device and a USB cable that will need to be connected to the TV or mains via an adapter and will be used to power the Chromecast, as it cannot be powered from the TV via HDMI.

Currently, Chromecast can be configured with most devices on the marketbe it iPhone, iPad, Android, MacOS computer, Windows PC, and even Chromebook. 

This means that it is not necessary to use a specific remote control to control the Chromecast, but everything is controlled from the mobile phone or computer, in a simple and intuitive way.

When you need to connect Chromecast to TV for the first time, an assistant will guide us through the initial setup process. The first necessary step will be connect the device to the WiFi network, which must be the same as the other devices from which the content will be transmitted and controlled.

If you are using an Android smartphone or tablet, or an iPhone or iPad, it will be necessary install the Google Home application, available on both Google Play and the App Store.

Now, you need to open a Chromecast compatible application, such as Netflix, YouTube or one of the best apps available on Google Play for this device, and look for the icon to send the content that usually appears in the upper right corner.

By selecting the name of our Chromecast, we will see how the video, music, images or any type of content that we are broadcasting will be shown on the TV, since the Chromecast receives the video and audio signal working in a similar way to a WiFi access point.

And especially, while the content is playing on Chromecast, you can continue to use your mobile, tablet or computer without any problem and, if desired, you can control playback from any device connected to the same Wi-Fi network, which is very useful, for example, when the device it started broadcasting from has run out of battery.

And don't worry if you don't know how to turn off the Chromecast, because you don't have to. When you're done using it, you just need to stop streaming the content from the device you were doing it on.

All Google Chromecast models and their differences

Currently, there are four different Google Chromecasts, each with completely different functionality. These are their differences:

Google Chromecast with Google TV

This is the latest available version of the Chromecast, released in 2020 to introduce important changes compared to previous editions.

It is the first Google Chromecast with Google TV, a complete operating system for televisions based on Android TV, which makes it much more versatile by giving the ability to install applications directly on the device.

In addition, it has a remote control with which to control the playback of content without having to use a mobile phone.

Google Chromecast

It is the classic model, the second generation of which was launched in 2015 with a more refined design than the original version launched in 2013. It allows you to stream content of all kinds to a TV, with a maximum video resolution of 1080p - which will depend on the resolution of the TV. 

It is compatible with all applications available for the platform, and its main virtue compared to the first edition is the better Wi-Fi connection, compatible with 802.11ac 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks. In our opinion, and according to the opinions of many users, the price of the original Chromecast makes it an almost irresistible product.

Additionally, in October 2018, Google revamped the product with the launch of chromecast 3. This third generation brought Bluetooth connectivity, support for multi-room audio and a new, more minimalist design in black and white as its main features and innovations.

Google Chromecast Ultra

The Chromecast Ultra, also known as Chromecast 2, retains the basics of the original model, but adds to its features the ability to play content in UltraHD 4K and HDR resolution - although it will still depend on the resolution of the TV it is connected to. It is also the most expensive model available in the Google Store.

Google Chromecast Audio

Despite being the least popular model, Chromecast Audio is more useful than it first appears. It is a device that, instead of connecting to a TV, will connect to any type of speaker via the AUX port to turn it into a smart speaker, and therefore stream songs from other devices.

If you want, you can also check out the Chromecast alternatives on Amazon.

How Does Chromecast Work? What's inside a Google Chromecast?

Before we get to the services that work with Google Chromecast and how you control it, it's important to understand how Chromecast works.

The Chromecast device connects to the HDMI port on the TV. If you own a 4K or use a High-Dynamic Range (HDR) TV, you may want to buy the Chromecast Ultra. Ultra supports them and has an Ethernet adapter that supports very high data transfer rates. However, for most users, the regular Chromecast is sufficient.

The Chromecast's internal hardware includes all of the following:

  • HDMI output connector
  • micro-USB port for power supply
  • 512MB SDRAM (2nd generation has 4GB SDRAM)
  • 2 GB of flash memory
  • Adattatore Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n / ac dual-band
  • NFC and FM receivers

The device will come with a USB cable that you can use to connect Chromecast to any standard USB 2.0 port to power it. Many modern TVs include one.

How does Chromecast connect?

Since the Chromecast device fetches content directly from the Internet, you initially need to set it up with valid login credentials for your Wi-Fi network.

Such a network must also have open Internet access. That's why a Chromecast device may not work on a corporate or hotel network, requiring a second level of browser login credentials to access the Internet.

To connect Chromecast, you need to install the Google Home app on your mobile device. After installing the app, follow these steps to connect Chromecast to your phone:

  1. Plug the Chromecast's HDMI out cable into the TV's HDMI port.
  2. Make sure your TV is set to the correct HDMI input your Chromecast is connected to. You will see the Chromecast display when you select the correct HDMI source.
  3. Open the Google Home app on your mobile device.
  4. At the top left of the app, select the icon +. Select Configure device, Then Set up new devices.
  5. The app will walk you through the steps required to set up the Chromecast. This will include choosing the Wi-Fi network and typing in the correct network passcode.

Once Chromecast is set up and ready to receive commands from your mobile device or laptop, there are dozens of ways to cast content.

How to use Chromecast?

Depending on what you want to convey, there are many ways to do it. Here are some options available.

  • Show what you see on your browser by launching a browser tab
  • Cast from a Chromecast-enabled website like YouTube
  • Cast from Chromecast apps to your mobile device

How to set up Chromecast

1. Cast a tab from Chrome to Chromecast

Casting from your browser is one of the simplest ways to cast content to a Chromecast. Just select the three dots at the top right next to your profile picture and select Broadcast ... from the drop-down menu.

  1. A window will appear where you can select the device (from all those connected to Google Home) to which you want to cast.
  2. Select the TV your Chromecast is connected to. This will immediately show your browser on the TV.
  3. As you scroll or click on new web pages, the TV will show all your activities live.

Note that this is not the best approach to use if you are hoping to stream video from a website. Ideally, you should choose sites (such as YouTube or Netflix) that offer casting functionality in the form of a Cast button (see below). .

If you try to view video using the browser's cast feature, the quality will be very low or it won't work at all. And in the case of YouTube or other Chromecast-enabled sites, they'll automatically revert to Cast functionality.

2. Stream from Chromecast-enabled websites

The best way to stream video content via Chromecast is to select Chromecast-enabled content sites. You can see the entire list of Chromecast-enabled providers on the Chromecast Google Apps & Partners page.

Launching content from these websites is very simple. You can usually find the Cast icon on the video player itself.

  1. For example, on YouTube, once the video starts, look for the Cast icon in the lower right corner of the video.
  2. You'll see a pop-up list of Chromecast devices on your network, similar to when you cast browser tabs.
  3. Select the Chromecast you want to stream video from and the video will play from the Chromecast device to your TV.

Another good Chromecast-enabled site is Spotify Web Player. When listening to music from the Spotify website, you can select the devices icon at the bottom of the window. A popup will start showing Google Cast if Chromecast devices are detected on your network.

Once Google Cast is selected, you will see the usual device selection pop-up window where you can select the Chromecast TV you want to listen to music on.

Streaming music is great if you have a good sound system connected to your TV and would like to take advantage of it to listen to music.

You can even start videos on your Chromecast using some Chromecast-enabled PC apps, like VLC.

3. Cast from Chromecast-enabled apps

The most convenient way to use a Chromecast is to control it from your mobile phone. There is no need to start the laptop or computer. Launch any Chromecast-enabled app and you can start casting right from your phone.

An excellent example of this is the Amazon Prime Video app. For years, Amazon has refused to allow compatibility with Chromecast devices. This changed recently when Amazon made its Prime Video app Chromecast-enabled.

  1. Now, when you are watching episodes or watching a movie from the Prime Video app, you will see a semi-transparent Cast icon in the lower right corner of the screen.
  2. Tap the icon and select the Chromecast device on your network to watch that Amazon Prime video on your TV.
  3. YouTube apps (including YouTube TV) have always been Chromecast-enabled. You will find the Chromecast icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

You can also stream music from your phone using the Spotify app or the Google Music app. In Google Music, the Cast icon is located in the upper right corner of the window.

In almost all cases, if a music or video app is Chromecast-enabled and you have a Chromecast device detected on your home network, you'll see the Cast icon appear when you start a video or play music.

What is Chromecast for and what can you do with it?

We have already discussed some of the Google Chromecast functions above. However, this small device has great potential due to the large number of compatible applications that exist on Google Play. Among the many things you can do with a Chromecast, we point out the following:

  • Watch movies, series and videos thanks to apps like Netflix, VLC, HBO or YouTube.
  • Listen to songs, radio or podcasts on TV with your own lyrics with Spotify and MusixMatch.
  • Mirror your mobile or computer screen to your TV.
  • Play games from your mobile on a big screen.
  • Use TV as a whiteboard for PowerPoint presentations or Google Presentations.

Chromecast tricks

There are also a number of tricks for the Google Chromecast, through which you can get more out of this useful Google device. Among them, we highlight the following:

  • Download the background images: If you want to get the cool background images included in the Chromecast, you just need to go to the Chromecast home page from your browser and download the image to your device.
  • What is being broadcast right now? If you are in a room away from your Chromecast, you can find out if anyone is casting content and what kind of content by asking the Google Assistant "What's on my Chromecast?"
  • Enjoy your favorite content in silence (for the rest) Thanks to applications such as LocalCast for Android, you can play content on your Chromecast, while the audio is transmitted through the headphones connected to the phone, so as not to disturb other people who are in the same room.

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