So I just picked up my Chromecast from BestBuy and I've been playing around with it for a bit, enough to feel comfortable giving it a review.
For those wondering, I got the Netflix promo even though Google said they stopped it; I'm guessing they stopped shipping them with the promo but the ones in stores will still get it but more likely it is because BestBuy either keeps to promo and it is an exclusive or they're a little late to ending it. Picked it up on 7/27/13 at around 7:30pm.
The setup was pretty painless. For some reason I couldn't do the initial setup on my Samsung Chromebook but I could on my Galaxy S4. There is a Chromecast app in the Playstore and it did all the hard work. I just had to install and it identified my chromecast and I just had to hit continue. It asked me to verify that I saw some numbers on my screen which was nice because I didn't have to enter anything, just verify that it was the correct Chromecast. You get to name your Chromecast too when your done with it. After that I was able to add the extension to my chromebook and it synced across all my devices that support extensions.
One of the most important features of the Chromecast is tab mirroring but it also offers screen mirroring. It is basically a cheap alternative to WiDi and is convenient because you can use it on any OS(does not mirror mobile devices). It is not on par with WiDi when it comes to latency though because there was a two second lag between what I was doing on my chromebook and what the Chromecast mirrored to my TV. The screen mirroring did not support audio to TV and used my chromebook's speakers but that is probably because it is still in its experimental phase. The tab mirroring supported audio but still had the annoying 2 second latency.
Videos through tab mirroring was okay at times. It was cool in a way that you can leave one tab open with the video then just go on another tab on your laptop, effectively watching the video on the TV while doing something else on your laptop. It did not work so good with Netflix on the chromebook as there was no button to mirror like there is on the app version so I had to tab mirror and the video on Netflix was very choppy. This issue was not present when done on the app.
The Netflix and Youtube apps work great. If anyone has used the cast feature with their Xbox they will find this familiar because it is exactly the same. There is a button on the top right on both apps and you can press it to select whether you want the video to play on either your device or to your Chromecast. My Nexus 7 and Galaxy S4 worked great as remotes but if you want to get into latency there was about a 1 second lag between pressing a button and how long it would take the Chromecast to perform the action, such as pausing or moving to a different part of the video. This latency was not an issue though and the video playback was great, I believe the quality adjusts based on your connection for smooth playback.
A few complaints:
When the Chromecast was presented at the "breakfast" it was said to be able to turn a TV on when something was being casted. My TV isn't top of the line and I would call it cheap but it is a modern HDTV and it did not turn on or switch imputs to my Chromecast. I found this annoying because it was advertised to be able to do so but I understand the technology they use is probably absent from my TV but they really should have mentioned that during the presentation.
The latency is the biggest issue I have with the Chromecast. 2 seconds is a pretty annoying latency time, especially when you already see the content on your device. Also, if there was an ethernet port or adapter it might have lowered the latency somehow having a wired connection, my router is right next to my TV too. Despite that the $35 price point does make this a wrinkle that can be overlooked.
For the pricepoint this is a great buy. It is painless to do and will probably be a huge success if they can get more developers to make apps for it and continue to build upon its features. I was satisfied, although not impressed, with the Chromecast. It had a few quirks, mainly latency, but I think Google will be able to iron out some of those things over time.