Google Chromecast: Impressions

Google announced their new device for television on Wednesday the 24th: Chromecast. Unlike the complicated and (based on sales) unpopular Google TV, Chromecast does one thing, and it does it really well. It allows you to stream your phone, tablet, or laptop media to the TV. It is, essentially, the distilled child of AirPlay, pushing content on another device up to Chromecast. Netflix and YouTube apps already push to Chromecast, as well as Chrome browser and Chrome OS, according to Google's website.

So the big news here is that you use the devices you already know: your phone, laptop, tablet, or computer, and push the content to your television (very similar to AirPlay). You don't, however, need to dedicate your device to playing your content, and can use that device while pushing content to Chromecast. That is an advantage over the current Apple TV and Mac/iOS model.

There is also a lot of potential that could come with Chromecast, such as pushing PowerPoint presentations, Screen Mirroring, true Multiscreen, etc. that are either now covered with AirPlay, or will be with OS X Mavericks.

So what does this mean for current television content sources? They have another nail in their coffin. And when I mean current television content sources, I mean cable and satellite providers. While they will continue to thrive by providing phone and internet services, the days of buying bundles and having yet another box connected to your computer will become a thing of the past. Why bother when you can stream your favorite show to the largest screen in the house, right from the web?

In a world where television is becoming largely mobile through the web, ads are being pushed through video providers like YouTube, and big networks are already providing either clips or full video on their websites (with ads), the current method of getting content via cable or satellite seems obsolete. Chromecast makes small media consumption which is typically private into a public event, much like an Apple TV.

But where does it fall short? Well, direct subscriptions, so you don't have to use your mobile device or computer to get to your content. Apple TV does that every well, and it's not that different than using a cable box, other than it's easier (in my opinion). Streaming from a "server" using iTunes is also really easy, and how we access much of our content at home. Still, these are just differences, and Google TV or a Boxee or Roku device take care of that.

Another thing that I'm hope Apple will eventually bring to the Apple TV that Chromecast might or might not be able to do is gaming. I'm sure you could push your game screen (if the app lets you) to Chromecast, but Apple TV has the capability (if not yet tapped) to be a gaming console. Google TV could probably do that same thing, as well.

For those who don't have a device, don't have their content anywhere but the web, and don't really want to do much more than share from their devices, Chromecast is a no brainer. The price is right, and it's an easy setup. It's also not a box, and keeps a sleek look to the TV's profile with no wires.

But I think I'll keep my Apple TV. I have an Apple ecosystem at home so it's not that big of a deal with "multiple devices", and it's one device that fits my need hooked to the TV instead of two (Chromecast + Google TV/Roku/Boxee).

But devices aside, the really good news is that the infrastructure for a teardown of the cable and satellite provider monopoly (in many cases) has yet another player, and it's a big one.