Isabella and Chromecast

Chromecast costs $35. In a 24-hour span last week, I became more convinced than ever that I'd have gladly paid 10 times as much (and sort of did, once) for this sort of device for what it's done to my living room.

See, my 3-year-old daughter has discovered Space. (Self-Editor's Note: I've always loved the idea of treating Space as a proper noun. Something that's so vast we can't really comprehend it deserves at least that much. It's my website and I'll capitalize what I want.) Isabella is fully aware of the sun, moon and stars, and when I remember to check the schedule she happily escorts me to the backyard to watch the international space station fly overhead. (That's more than I can say for my 7-going-on-17 daughter. And if you've never seen the ISS before, it's something I highly recommend catching.)

I'm not sure when and where Isa learned about "Space" itself, but she asked to see it. So, on goes Chromecast, YouTube, and a whole lot of videos of the space shuttle taking off. And landing. And docking with the ISS. And then some spacewalks. 

I know I'm getting my hopes up, but my dark nerd heart simply melts of the idea of my youngest daughter being the least bit excited about Space. And the day before, on the ride to school, 7-year-old Mia was telling me about how they did experiments on rocks in science class and came to the conclusion that they're made of minerals. Chicks who dig science are cool as hell. (Yes, even when they're my daughters. But seriously, guys, don't even look at them. Ever.) And using Chromecast to nerd out with them on the couch to watch a couple launches and landings made my week. It's a shame we can't do it live anymore.

That's to say nothing of the music. Not a day goes by when we don't listen to something through Chromecast. Watching my monkeys bounce through the living room to Stevie Wonder or Daft Punk or Grace Potter and the Nocturnals does so much for the soul. Or playing old YouTube videos of The Muppet Show.

But just as often I've found myself turning on Chromecast (I use a Logitech Harmony remote to make switching easy, by the way) — and just leaving it be. The photography being showcased as wallpapers is beautiful. Some of the names I know — usually folks with ties to Android. Many I don't, and end up following on Google+. (And major kudos for giving conspicuous credit to the photogs.) Chromecast has become that sort of picture-frame TV of the future that I used to long for. Apps like AllCast have made showing off my own pictures that much easier.

And all for $35.

A few other thoughts on the week that was:

  • Our CMS upgrade (that's all the back-end stuff that makes this site go) last Sunday night went pretty well. We're still feeling things out a big and finding bugs — some apparent to you folks, and some that nag us behind the scenes. We're also identifying even more things we want to change in the long-term. Thanks for your patience as we continue to fix what's broken, and improve on what's working.
  • We head to Barcelona next weekend. Expect the live Mobile World Congress coverage to start Sunday, but obviously we've already got stories coming in. Find them all at our MWC page.
  • And since we're a week out from a few major launches, the leaks are growing. Yet I still prefer to go to these things and see and use the phones myself. I'm funny like that, I guess.
  • I love how NBC now treats tape-delaying the Olympics for prime time like it's a feature, and not a bug. And by "love," I mean "It's 2014. This is ridiculous." Oh, well. I have cable.
  • Why is curling a gender-specific sport?
  • Fruit and yogurt is good. But not as good as bacon and waffles.
  • Coffee's still good though.
  • Did I mention I'm trying to eat a little more healthy?
  • Apparently I've digressed.

That's it for this week. Catch you next weekend from Spain.

 

Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Chromecast and Super Dad

73 Comments

I had a Boxee (Samsung ruined it) then I switched to Roku (even though its fool proof) people in the house hated this even more than Boxee and it was bulky and crashed all the time. Chromecast has stopped the emergency calls from my family asking "why its not working" Its way to simple, and works perfectly with Plex

Catalunya is an autonomous community and Barcelona is a city within that autonomous community. Nobody will be upset.

The only thing keeping curling a gender-specific sport is the male ego. That goes for most sports (games) where the athleticism isn't too extreme.

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I'll say it's all the sailor talk that happens in practice. Ladies just don't seem to appreciate sentences where swear words are in the majority. Not that I know what happens at curling practice, just seems like that sport where being drunk is encouraged, and drunk men swear, a lot.

BaAAH

Phil, that's awesome you have a little girl interested in science. My 10 yr old daughter has been into space and science for a while too, she wants to be an astronomer and an astronaut! She's even doing a report in school on Neil Armstrong this week, and I am making a t-shirt for her to wear during her oral presentation that looks like a space suit! Of course, like you, I'm also always showing her videos on youtube and even Netflix about space and rockets, and science etc. Last week we found a lecture by some British professor lady talking about what NOT to do with the Large Hadron Collider, things like don't put your head in it, etc. Very interesting! Keep it up with your kid, great job as a dad!

Except everywhere that isn't usa, which is most of the world.

So hard to find it internationally, and when you do it's 5 times the price.

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Ikr.

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Sent from inside a cave. Yes, T-Mobile covers caves. N5

Raising your daughters up nerdily...you, my friend, are a wonderful father.
And I'm trying to do the healthy eating thing too. I got one word for you: Nutribullet. I hate vegetables, but being able to mix them with fruits into a smoothie of sorts makes them tolerable and in some cases quite tasty.

+1 I just bought a blender, today. I'm hoping it'll help me get all of my fruits and vegetables in my diet.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Bananas completely mask the flavor of spinach and other greens in a smoothie. Looks gross, but who cares?

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Sweet! Thanks, for the tip!

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

More of a sport than Poker.

There is a lot of skill and strategy in curling.and being a sweeper is harder than it looks.

I think the word.. Sport... Is being over used

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Sent from inside a cave. Yes, T-Mobile covers caves. N5

Dark nerd hard melts...I hate autocorrect!! Great that kids are using tech for learning outside of school.

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I was already planning on picking up a chromecast but after reading this I'm gonna have to pick one up right away.

You should. I went out and bought an $1100 smart TV (actually, last years model so it was originally $2000) and I've discovered that, since I got my Chromecast at Christmas, I haven't used any of the smart features built into my TV even once. The Chromecast does it all (at least, everything I was interested in) and does it faster and easier. It was one of the most brilliant things Google has ever produced, IMO.

Thanks, Phil, for mentioning Grace Potter and the Nocturnals!! I've been on a huge quest in the last week or so for some new music after noticing my daily playlist consisted of mostly music from when I was in High School 15 years ago. So when I saw you mentioned them along with some others I know I like I did a play search, and now I've found a new great band to add to the playlist!

(by the way, you've got some pretty awesome playlists in Play Music, man!! Thanks for sharing them with us all)

I''ve done the same with my 7yr old son!! He loves black holes especially as well as volcanoes. Showed him a reenactment of Pompeii...might have wanted to wait a bit for that visual! Chromecast rocks!

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I love my Chromecast. I got two of them. Talked my sister and my mom into getting one. Working on my dad.

Science is cool no matter your age.

I am so glad AC moved the comment box to the top as opposed to below the comments.

I have a chromecast and don't understand why sending the signal for hulu plus and cbs.com is jerky and unwatchable. Netflix works fine. With Hulu Plu and CBS.com I can't go full screen and still use the computer. This thing has been garbage for me. Anyone else? It DOES work well for Netflix. No jerkiness or anything.

Are you casting the Chrome browser tab, or the video itself? I ask because you mention you can't use your computer while streaming (and going full screen), but the video does not stream from your computer itself. Chromecast goes out to the internet and makes its own request for the content directly, so you should not see any significant "slow down" on the device you used to start the stream. You might have something else going on, there.

Casting a browser tab is still *very* beta, at least in my brief experience. I've not started a Netflix or Hulu stream from a laptop, but I know YouTube has a little "cast" icon at the top right of the video window that will send the video directly. You might want to look into whether or not there is a better way to stream the content.

I *have* seen a problem with Hulu Plus occasionally where the commercials will pause and stutter. It only ever seems to be the commercials, though, and pausing and restarting the stream usually fixes the problem.

The best male curlers have an advantage over the best female curlers when it comes to sweeping. Being able to put more downward force on the broom gives the sweepers more control over where the shot ends up and, in turn, opens up a larger number of possibilities over what shot to call.

I curl in a league way, way, way(, way!) below Olympic level, and, the way we play, this is just the smallest of issues, swamped by the much wider variation from person to person in all sorts of other abilities. So we play co-ed, and some of the very best curlers in our league are without a Y chromosome. (Although there are some bonspiels (tournaments) around here that are women-only. Probably some men-only too, although I can't come up with any off the top of my head.) But folks who closely follow high-level curling (stop laughing! it's a thing!) tell me that, because of this strength issue, a typical top women's team would have difficulty hanging with a top men's team. Given this disadvantage, if one were putting together a top curling team strictly on merit, strictly on "who should I pick to win my country the most matches", teams would be almost entirely men. And so having separate competitions makes sense.

That said, these women are really good, and would wipe up the rink with any team of just regular dudes who curl on the side.

PS - Try it some time! With the Olympics driving interest, clubs all over the country are having events introducing new people to the sport. Google "Learn to Curl" and I bet you'll come up with something closer to you than you might have imagined.

I have a Chromecast, and everyone in the house loves it.

Posted via a Deknoxed, Rooted, Xposed 4.3 AT&T Galaxy S III.

In all fairness...

NBC has received a lot of flack in the past for giving results before airing the sport. (For those of us with daytime jobs... that watch it all at night.)

Fruit and yogurt is awesome. Because yogurt by itself is ugh.

Digressing is obviously fine.

Why capitalize Space; but not Sun, Moon, and Stars? :)

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Because, technically, you're not supposed to capitalize anything that you put the word "the" in front of, which makes it a noun rather than a pronoun. You don't say "Look at Moon", you say "Look at the moon."

By the same token, we don't send "astronauts into the space". We "send astronauts into Space" ;)

(FYI: This is half-way a joke, before any English teachers decide to go nuclear on me here)

Rad. Iss just passed overhead not an half hour ago (central UK), and I would also advise folk to get an app so they may see it. If that nerd stuff works for you. Ha.
Just pulled the trigger on a Chromecast and am looking forward to seeing how it performs.

Anything that encompasses and contains all three of those things, while also managing to be a concept wins out in terms of deserving g to be a proper noun in my book.

Also, we do capitalize sun and stars. The word is Drogo.

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Well, in old English all nouns were capitalized. So writing "Space" isn't exactly incorrect. In German, for example, they keep that rule that the English language abolished.
So there you go. If someone bothers you with that just say "I'm writing in good old English. Not my fault you have no culture". That ought to shut them up lol

Get a ham license and talk to the astronaut up on the space station

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Can the Chrome Cast be used through the receiver to send whatever to tv. Or even plugged into the front HDMI on the Oppo 103D and be able to use the Darbie.

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Had my chromecast for 2 days now and i love it. Streaming to it beats streaming to an xbox 360 before this was painful now i have zero issues!

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The tape delays have encouraged me to spam the NBC Olympics Twitter with #NBCFail. So obnoxious.

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What can I benefit from already having an APPLE TV? I'm genuinely asking as I'm tempted to buy on. I do have a Note 3 and already have AllCast so that's a bonus indeed but AllCast already works with Apple TV so please, what are some other uses I may enjoy that I don't have? Please help me justify the purchase so I don't have buyers remorse. Hahah. Anyone?

OK, I'm going to start this off by pointing out that I don't own an AppleTV myself, and have only played with my father's. That said, the way your start videos with Chromecast is by finding something on your cell phone, tablet or laptop, exactly like you would do if you were going to watch the content on that device, and then touch a button to "push" it to the Chromecast. In my brief experience, it's *much* faster and simpler.

Plus, if you you're on some apps (like YouTube) you can keep search for other videos while one is playing and queue them. How many times have you had a friend over and wanted to show them a funny YouTube video, and they think of one too. So long as you're all on the WiFi, anybody can push videos up to the Chromecast from the own device.

I actually find the "interface-less" Chromecast to be the best method I have ever seen for putting internet content on the big screen.

I badly want a wired Chromecast. I shouldn't have to expand my home network just to get a 1080p capable signal to the farthest reaches of my house, when an unused Cat-6 cable is right next to it.

I love the Chromecast. I have three of them for the tv's in the house. It has replaced our directv and won't go back. Along with all the streaming services available, why pay for satellite tv? And my kids don't even miss the directv programming.

My chrome cast is okay but I wish watching local content was better. Allcast and Avia are painfully slow. And I'm still baffled that G+ photo support isn't baked in.

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I started using chromecast with the real player cloud app. Only 2.5 gb of data storage though...but you can get more with referrals.
What is odd is that I can stream youtube no problems from my xbox360. The wii and chromecast always lags/ delays.
With the chromecast, I am using it through and HDMI hub because I still have a plasma tv that only has 1 hdmi port.
Thoughts?

My guess would be that it has something to do with the wireless signal strength. Download "WiFi Analyzer" from the Play store and check and see if there's a lot of interference near your Chromecast. Sometimes, you might have other wireless networks around you on the same channel causing interference. I live in an apartment and I had to use that app to figure out how to configure my wireless router in order to get my son's Wii able to stream Netflix.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.farproc.wifi.analyzer

Nice picture of your daughter. I couldn't help but notice that another person was in the background, as well (in the lower right corner). Might that be the wife?

Actually the girlfriend...

I kid, yeah I am pretty sure it is the wife if I remember the other pictures correctly.

Lol! As an English major, I loved the self-editor's note. :-)
Also, couldn't agree more--I'm all over my Chromecast ever since I received it. It has changed my TV forever.

This is one of the best pictures I have ever seen on this site. The focal perspective is great. Makes me chuckle almost ever time I see it.

I must admit the for $35 the Chromecast is very good buy.

As for space, its very cool to see someone so young interested in Space and the sciences behind it. If your daughter hasn't see When We Left Earth on Netflix I highly recommend it. Its a complete history of the space program. Its so good I bought it on bluray.

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Phil ~ Another awesome story for Chromecast. I just picked one up along with a N7 2013 this weekend at Best Buy (both on sale btw) and quiet frankly, I am impressed. Streaming is crystal clear. Which has lead to me to ask AC Staffers or others ~ Is there a site that breaks down the technical aspects of how Chromecast works? I get that it is pretty Automagically awesome like Airplay, but getting into the nuts and bolts of TPC/UDP, discovery protocols etc., anyone have a good link to read up on that?

Thx.

I don't know if a site to get the "diagram" specifically for the Chromecast, but I can tell you that it works using the "Dicovery and Launch" protocol. Basically, any app that wants to support Chromecast puts out a special web page that accepts query string parameters. That's the stuff you sometimes see in your browser's URL following a question mark, like "youtube.com?id=23a8d75g" (that's not a real link, I totally just made that up. Attempt to follow it at your own peril)

So, when you click the "Cast" button, it generates a URL (with all the query string data) and sends that to the Chromecast. The Chromecast then goes out and requests that URL from the internet (just like if you put in a URL in a web browser). The device used to send the URL to the Chromecast also keeps a record of that URL so that it can send commands (like "Pause") to that website, which the Chromecast will then "see" happen. Hopefully that was easy enough to follow.

It would be interesting to find a detailed, animated thing showing exactly how the Chromecast works. Admittedly, I don't have a perfect understanding of all of it myself. I think the tech is superb and amazing in its power and simplicity. It might be fun to learn a bit more and make a video myself.

You can find more info (although not much) at the Wikipedia link below:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIscovery_And_Launch

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." --Arthur C. Clarke

Your still able to watch launches, they just canceled the space shuttle program, the program is being replaced with the Space Launch System

I was debating weather or not to pick up a chromecast but this changes my mind. I just ordered one from best buy. I'm on my way to pick it up now. Thanks Phil!

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After reading this article I promptly went out and got a chromecast. Now it doesn't work. I have done 3 factory resets on it and it still won't play Netflix... I keep getting a 16003 error. Not so sure this is a good buy.

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