Tag Archives: iOS

Chromecast Setup & First Impressions

I purchased a Google – Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player from Best Buy for $35 and received 3 months of Netflix for free. Since I’m already a Netflix customer, they just credited $24 to my account.

I’m impressed by how small and simple everything about this device is…the packaging is attractive, the instructions are simple, and when you consider what its capable of, the Chromecast is tiny.

It’s just a dongle with a small button and micro USB port on the back, an HDMI connector in front and an LED indicator.

Back in the box we have a USB wall charger, an HDMI port extender, a micro USB to USB cable, and some tiny instructions.

Setup is easy. First, plug the Chromecast into an HDMI port on your tv. If the LED indicator doesn’t light up, you’ll need to attach the dongle to a USB port on the tv or an outlet. My tv’s USB port didn’t supply power, so I’m going to use the provided  charger to to plug it into an outlet.

Now that the  Chromecast is receiving power, the LED indicator will light up.

Next, switch your tv to HDMI input…and you should see the setup screen.

To set up the Chromecast, you’ll need a computer with the Chrome browser installed or an android device. We’re using a Nexus 7. Launch the Chrome browser. And you’ll be prompted to launch Google Play. The link will take you to the download page for the Cromecast app. Install the app. I had to give Google my phone number to proceed…

Now open the app and accept the terms.

Select Setup and allow your device to connect to the  Chromecast. Let your device know if you see the code on your tv. Now you can choose a name for your Chromecast.

Then you’ll have to put in your wifi password so the Chromecast can connect to your network.

Once it’s connected, you  can watch a tutorial or just finish setup. You’re still in the Chromecast app, so go back to the home screen and launch Netflix or YouTube.

Even though I couldn’t setup the Chromecast with an iOS device, I can still cast YouTube and Netflix videos from my iPad to the tv …in fact, you can cast from any iOS or Android device that’s logged onto your wifi network…no app is required.

We went my YouTube channel and tried playing one of my old video. When you press the cast icon you’ll be given the option to play the video on your device or on the tv. It just takes a few seconds for the Chromecast to start streaming video…at this point you can do other stuff on your device or just let it go to sleep…the Chrome cast takes care of streaming the video.

When your done casting, tap the icon and send the video back to your device.

Chromecasting works basically the same on both Android and Apple devices. One thing to note is that you’ll have a few more options on an Android device…like access to video playback controls from the drop down notifications menu and from the lock screen. That’ll make multitasking more convenient.

Overall, the Google Chromecast is a great value at $35.

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Samsung Series 5 Chromebook vs iPad 2

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Earlier this summer, I was torn between which gadget to replace my netbook with:
•A more powerful ultraportable laptop, like a 13″ MacBook Air or Acer TimelineX
•The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook
•The iPad 2

Cost concerns eliminated the ultraportables from consideration, so let’s focus on the Series 5 w/ Wifi & 3G and the 16GB iPad 2 w/ Wifi only.

Now, this may seem like we’re comparing apples to oranges, but both of these system are priced at $499, and were in competition for my money.

Storage
Series 5: 4GB, with documents and music stored online and Apps are web based. There is also an SD card slot.
iPad 2: 16GB, with documents, music, and apps stored locally on the device. However, storage is becoming less of a concern for iOS devices with the arrival of services like Dropbox. In addition to that, a new feature of iOS is online backup of iTunes and App Store purchases – so you can download apps and music that you’ve purchased when you need them, delete them when you are done, and re-download as needed.
***In my case, this category was a tie, but I don’t require a lot of local storage.

Design and Portability
***I like the design of both devices – large enough to meet my needs, yet still portable.

Productivity
Series 5: Google Docs has evolved into a very capable office suite for a math and science teacher (like me). The only strike against Google Docs is that you can’t work off-line (though this may change in the near future).
iPad 2: iWork is a nice, simple office suite for educators. I don’t get bogged down in a bunch of features that I don’t use. The main strike against iWork is that it’s word processor lacks an equation editor – a must have for a math and science teacher.
***I lean toward the iPad 2 in this category because there wasn’t a way to work in Google Docs off-line, but I was able to work around iWorks lack of an equation editor with an app called MathBot.

Battery Life
series 5: 8.5 hrs
iPad 2: 10 hrs
***iPad 2 takes this category.

Connectivity
Series 5: Wifi and 3G, with 100GB of free data per month from Verizon – that’s awesome!
iPad 2: Wifi only
***At the $499 price point, the series 5 wins this category, with the free data making this a very compelling device.

As you know, I chose the 16GB iPad 2 with Wifi because I was concerned about not being able to work on documents off-line. I considered the 3G version of my iPad, but in the end, Wifi connectivity is sufficient for me. On rare occasions that Wifi is not available, I can use iWork on on my iPhone. We will see how well the iPad works as my primary home computer for the 2011-2012 school year.