There are plenty of solutions for getting streamed content to your television (smart TVs, game consoles, set-top boxes), but none of them have featured a truly integrated interface that could be classified as “user-friendly.” That trend could coming to an end with the announcement and release of Google’s latest innovation: Chromecast.

The device went on sale recently directly from Google and then promptly sold out in a few short minutes (though users who really want to get their hands on one will be able to order them from Amazon in a few days). So what’s all the fuss about?

Chromecast is a unified device that will bring all of your favorite web-based media content to your TV. In other words, if you can watch it on a computer or mobile device, you can watch it on TV using the new tool. The device is small (about the size of a USB flash drive) and plugs in to one of your TV’s HDMI inputs. Once connected, users will be able to play back video on their TVs that has been loaded up from devices like smartphones and tablets, or even the Chrome browser. And the best part? It’s only $35.

Though at first glance this may sound like a competitor to something like Apple TV or Roku, the Google device is actually a lot different. Instead of relying on the availability of applications, users can simply pull up the content they want on a computer or supported device, press a “Cast” button, and the content will appear on the television.

This ability is not only useful for pulling up videos from YouTube but also allows users to stream content from services like HBO Go, which is only approved for a few devices but does have a dedicated web streaming site. With Chromecast, users can simply navigate to the HBO Go site from their browser, press the “Cast” button, and then enjoy the content on their TV.

Setting up Google’s new device looks like it will be fairly simple, as the company has designed the device with “plug and play” simplicity. According to CNET, you can simply connect the dongle to the television, plug the device in to an extraneous power source, sync it with your device (phone, tablet, PC), and then enjoy your content. When you are casting content from Android phones and tablets, you can also use your device’s volume controls, and use a virtual remote to play and pause.

There are plenty of devices out there that can bring web content to your TV. However, many of them are limited by supported applications and restrictive operating systems. With Chromecast’s open source interface and almost limitless streaming power (if it’s on the web, it’s can be on your TV), Chromecast has some serious potential and could become the best way for consumers to get the web content they want on their TV.

Image courtesy of Flickr




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