I recently bought Google’s latest attempt to integrate into our TV viewing habits – the Chromecast. While the hardware has been around for a while (available to purchase in the States since last July), it has only just been released in the UK.
Priced at £30 it is cheap enough for the average consumer to take a punt, and effectively turns a regular cheap TV into a smart TV of sorts, allowing companion apps and websites, like Netflix, Google Music and the BBC iPlayer, to stream content from a variety of devices to the new device. This works fairly well – Netflix and iPlayer seems flawless in tests, and even the more experimental features, such as “casting” a tab from Chrome to the telly, worked with few issues (there is a short delay, which is acceptable for some purposes, but not for others). I imagine that as the platform matures, performance will improve and the library of compatible (and useful) apps will increase.
However, I’m wondering if Google have missed a trick here. The Chromecast fits into a standard HDMI port, with a seperate micro-USB connection to power it. And that’s it. But what if they had made the device a pass-through, allowing the Chromecast to have another HDMI source plugged into the back of it? Not only would have this freed up a HDMI port (which on a cheaper TV is a godsend) but it allows the Chromecast to perform a couple of extra tricks.