It’s almost hard to believe that Google’s Chromecast has been available for a full year now. The device launched July 24th of 2013 at the astoundingly low price point of only $35. Initially the device became a favorite for streaming content to the TV, but how well has it aged? After a year of being on the market, what has changed and has it held up to the age old enemy of time?
The hardware on the Chromecast is great. It’s small taking up little room behind your TV. Personally over the course of a year, I’ve moved mine around between TVs in my house and bringing it on the road for use outside the home. It’s held up well too. Obviously it hasn’t been dropped or anything, but the occasional unplugging hasn’t caused any harm. WiFi performance has also stood up, perhaps even improving since launch. Many still wish the device could use 5GHz WiFi, but it’s only an issue if you want it to be. The device still brings enough speeds to handle all your streaming needs.
The software on the Chromecast had improved slightly from what we saw originally. New wallpapers are added to the screensaver constantly and and the software even saw a minor refresh a few months ago. Nothing too substantial has changed, that we can see at a glance anyway. However aside from apps, which I’ll get to in a minute, the actual Chromecast app has seen a couple core improvements that are really going to take things to a new level. One of those we have now, the other is coming very soon. Soon we will be able to see an image on the Chromecast screensaver and use the Chromecast app to identify it. We will also soon be able to control what images are in the screensaver even including our Google photos. But that’s still not here. What is here however is what’s even more impressive, screen casting. Select devices currently have the ability to cast their screen onto the Chromecast with the click on a button. This has been done before, but not as smooth as the official option. This brought the value of the Chromecast to an all-time high as now anything seen on your phone or tablet can now be seen on the big screen.
The big story of how the Chromecast has changed is in it’s app ecosystem. At launch, only a few apps were available like YouTube, Netflix, and some Google services. After that, other apps were added from time to time like Pandora, HBO GO and others. It was really when the full Chromecast SDK launched however when things really got good. It was then that the device really showed what it was capable off. Now it seems that every media app we use has the ability to be sent to the Chromecast. There are even some games designed for the Chromecast. Smaller developers have worked hard to bring their unique apps to the Chromecast which bring functionality higher and higher with each release. It’s needless to say that the device has gone much further than anyone would have expected.
Has It Improved?
So what’s the story? After a year, is the Chromecast still worth buying? The short answer, yes. The Chromecast is, in my opinion, still one of the best media devices you can buy, especially if you’re an Android user. While the Chromecast does work with iOS, there are many more compatible apps on Android. What you really can’t beat is what you get for the price. At $35 you wouldn’t expect much more from the Chromecast than basically what we saw at its launch. Now that small price tag brings a world of content right at the tap of a button. Will there be a new Chromecast? Possibly. We’ve heard rumors of this, but with no sign that things are slower down with the current model, I’d still say it’s safe to buy it.