Saturday, August 1, 2015

Chromecast versus Apple TV

I've been a long time Apple  user.  I do own the iPhone, the iPad and of course, the Apple TV 2.  My girlfriend bought the Apple TV 3 a while ago before we started living together.  In our home, we have mostly Apple products and a few PC with Ubuntu installed.

Even if I do prefer Apple products, I do also have an Android Tablet for development purpose, the Asus Memo FHD 10.  It's a neat device that I like to thinker with.

As I wanted to be able to stream movies on our TV's bedroom, this was a great opportunity to get a new toy: the Google's Chromecast.  One Apple TV is hooked in the living room and the other one is the kid's bedroom.  As my main usage for another streaming device was only to watch a few movies one in a while, the Chromecast was a good choice, considering the low price of 40$.

How does it compare with the Apple TV?  It does the job at streaming movies on the TV and that's about it.

I wasn't expecting much more than that for this price.  The Apple TV is around 100$ and the Roku 3 is selling at 120$ (Canadian).

So how does the Chromecast compare with the Apple TV?

Pros:

  1. It's small, really small
  2. It's can be hooked directly in the USB TV port, thus no need for an external power outlet
  3. It's easy to use
  4. Image quality is good, at least on my bedroom TV
Cons:

  1. There is no remote.  You need your phone/tablet to interact with it
  2. There are not apps.  The device is driven by the apps on your phone/tablet
  3. Not all apps are supporting Chromecast
  4. You cannot play your favorite games like on iOS/AppleTV.  
  5. You need specific apps to stream photos/videos on your TV
  6. Initial setup can take more than 5 minutes... 

Overall, the Chromecast is a great little device.  Having to search for compatible apps is a bit annoying.  Major apps do support it like Youtube, Netflix or Google Movie.  But if you want to show a photo from your Facebook profile on the TV set or mirror a game on the big screen, you'll be facing some issues.

The thing is that iOS/AppleTV are meant to work together.  The support for Airplay and AirPlay Mirroring is native in iOS, making the streaming process so easy, you take it for granted.

On Android, it's not as easy.  It kind of me reming the first days of the Apple TV.  It took a few trials and errors to find the proper app to stream movies from my NAS to the Chromecast.  Sometimes, movies in MP4 format will not work with the Chromecast even if they are compatible with the Apple TV.

If you are on a limited budget, the Chromecast is great.  But if you can manage for a more expensive device, you should get the Apple TV or the Roku 3 as you will get more for your money.

You get what you pay for: 40$, a remote display...