Chromecast now available in Ireland

The HDMI real estate at the back of the TV is really hotting up. Most TVs have 2 or 3 HDMI inputs. More and more devices are hitting the market that look to occupy these slots. Not everything will win.

In most cases {pick yours} Sky box, UPC box or Freeview/FreeSat/Saorview box will occupy the first. The 2nd will be contested by DVD, PVR, BluRay, Roku boxes, Android media boxes and now in Ireland the Google Chromecast.

I picked one up with last weekend for 40 yoyos in Currys/PC World. Or you can buy from Google for 39 euro. Inside the box you’ll get the HDMI Chromecast dongle itself, a power plug adapter and an optional HDMI  extension cable (for WiFi reasons). The setup is really easy. Plug in the dongle into a free HDMI slot and connect the power. The Chromecast will power up, update itself and prompt you to finish the setup using a laptop/mobile. You need a device on your wireless network to add the Chromecast device to your wireless network. All done in about 5 mins (most of this time was due to updating itself.. more on this later).

The Chromecast isn’t like any other devices I’ve used before. When you switch the TV to the HDMI source you’ll just find pretty images. No apps, no remote to control it – just pretty pictures.  Your phone/table/laptop is the main way to control the device.

It’s fairly intuitive  – from the mobile things like Plex/Netflix support ‘Casting’ so you’ll be able to send the video to your Chromecast by just clicking the cast icon.  It  works out of the box as you expect. (With one exception — See the Netflix Workaround).

There is a wide variety of apps that are supported like YouTube and most of the Google Apps as you’d expect.  I found sending YouTube videos sourced from Twitter to be really cool & changing the Twitter user experience.

The {US} Netflix Fail & Workaround

If you are using some kind of DNS redirect service to enable US Netflix when you cast  a Netflix video to Chromecast it won’t work. Why? Well it’s all to do with the DNS. Chromecast has Google DNS hardcoded into the device.  On your router you’ll need to have DNSMasq and point 8.8.8.8 / 8.8.4.4 to the DNS your redirect service provider. The update Chromecast does on first boot up makes sure you can’t root/ssh into the Chromecast. I’ve read on forums that it was once possible but alas no longer.

If your router doesn’t support DNSmasq – setup static routes (e.g. Asus routers) . Point everything to your routers IP address, netmask = 255.255.255.255, metric =2.

Other Apps

Just on the DNS redirect service you’ll find BBC iPlayer and other UK players work just fine too.

You’ll find a comprehensive list here on TNW (July 2014) but a lot of the Apps are geo-restricted/network restricted or need a subscription (e.g. BT Sport).

I installed the Chrome browser extension which allows you to send webpages on Chrome to the Chromecast. Very handy but you need to keep the laptop open/on while you’re casting the tab.

Bugbear

My biggest bugbear is the lack of a remote control. This is funny because this is actually one of Chromecasts main selling points.

I love the simplicity of Roku’s remote and I’m finding it hard (at the moment) to consider my phone to be a remote control for the TV. Not sure what the disconnect is but it’s there. Maybe it’s just me. I’ve got used to using Roku and the remote to navigate plex/netflix on the TV, pressing play and then losing the remote down the back of the couch 🙂 . Also, navigating on the TV screen is social whereas navigating on the mobile phone is usually done by one person.

Pausing Chromecast means hitting the power button on the phone and tapping Pause whereas with the Roku it’s just a tap of the Pause button. Perhaps this is a use case for Pressy? Or programming a double click on the power button.

So, I am happy with Chromecast. Very much so {once I configured the network} and it’s just version 1. The next version should is where the really exciting stuff will start to emerge. For the next couple of weeks I’m going to ‘lose’ the roku remote and just use Chromecast.

Ronan

Sharing my experience on startup, sport, linux, mobile phones, movies and some other random stuff.

One thought on “Chromecast now available in Ireland

  1. Great article Ronan. For those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your Chromecast by using UnoTelly or similar tools.

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