Google has a simple and inexpensive new way to stream Internet videos on your TV.
The company on Wednesday introduced Chromecast, a small device that lets you stream content to your television over a WI-Fi network, using your computer, phone or tablet as a remote control. The company said its goal is to create a device with zero setup time, no learning curve, and one that works with all platforms and devices.
The $35 Chromecast is a radically different approach to TV than Google’s previous failed attempt, the Nexus Q. It’s smaller, cheaper and available starting today.
The two-inch dongle looks like a thumb drive and pops into the HDMI port on an HDTV. It turns your phone, tablet or computer into a remote. Choose what content you’d like to stream and the Chromecast will play it on a nearby TV.
“The television is missing in the (streaming-video) picture. it is really, really difficult to get your online videos on the television,” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Android, Chrome and apps, at Wednesday’s press event.
Chromecast supports both Android and iOS devices. At its event, Google demonstrated the device using a Windows laptop and an iPhone.
Chromecast also is streaming directly from your Wi-Fi connection, so it’s not draining your device’s battery. That means you can multi-task, checking e-mail on your computer, tablet or phone while a custom YouTube playlist broadcasts on your TV.
The device currently only streams content from YouTube, Google Play and Netflix, though more apps, such as Pandora, are expected in the future. A beta feature lets you stream any tab directly from a Chrome browser running on one of your non-TV devices.
With Chromecast, Google is seeking a foothold in a small but growing field. Only 15% of households have figured out how to watch online video on their TV sets, according to Google. The device goes head-to-head with existing Internet-on-TV solutions like Apple TV or the Roku box.
The Chromecast stick is on sale now in the Google Play store and at electronics retailers such as Best Buy, although it may not ship immediately. A purchase of Chromecast includes three months of free Netflix streaming.