The Google Chromecast is a small but powerful streaming device. Chromecast is a family of dongles for your television, connecting to the TV’s HDMI port to add smart functions to your TV, like Netflix streaming, for example. The Chromecast connects to your home network and can then be controlled with your smartphone. This will let you open an entertainment app on your phone and – via Chromecast – play content on your TV.
Importantly it uses the Google Cast protocol to get that content on your TV, so there needs to be support from the source that you’re using. Services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Chrome (the browser), Android and many others support support Google Cast.
While all supporting full HD content, the various models of Chromecast have got progressively faster, with stronger Wi-Fi to better hold a connection.
- You don’t have to pay any subscription fees to use a Chromecast, although you’ll still have to pay for services like Netflix and Hulu to access them.
- If you’re using a computer with Google Chrome, you can “cast” nearly any webpage onto the TV and view the internet in a higher resolution.
What is a Google Chromecast? It’s essentially a streaming device that wirelessly connects your phone, tablet, or computer with an HD monitor. If your monitor or TV screen has an HDMI port (which nearly every TV screen nowadays has), you can turn it into a smart device that can connect to all sorts of apps you have on your phone or computer.
But no matter which Chromecast you buy, that initial purchase price is all you’ll pay: using a Chromecast requires no subscription and has no fees. The only other fees come if you’re subscribed to and using the device with premium streaming services like Netflix or Hulu.
A Chromecast can breathe new life into an older TV, and it can give you access to content on a device that might otherwise be locked, such as a television at a hotel that might charge fees to watch movies or shows.
Here’s how to use it.
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How to set up and use a Google Chromecast device
- Connect the Chromecast to a power source, then plug it into an HDMI port on the TV you want to use.
- Switch on the television and make sure it’s tuned to the proper HDMI channel (HDMI 1, HDMI 2, etc.).
- Download the Google Home app on your mobile device and set up the Chromecast as a new device. Make sure that Bluetooth is enabled on your mobile device.
Set up your Chromecast like you would any other Google device in the Google Home app. William Antonelli/Business Insider
- Follow the on-screen prompts to set up your Chromecast.
Your Chromecast is ready for streaming. Now you’ll want to get your mobile device or computer ready to start casting.
If you’re using your phone or tablet:
- Launch the streaming service of your choice (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.) on your mobile device.
- When the show or movie begins, tap the casting icon in the corner of the screen to stream the content to your TV. You may have to select the name of your Chromecast from a list — you’ll have named it during setup.
Tap the casting icon in the corner of the screen. Steven John/Business Insider
If you’re using a computer, you’ll want to:
- Launch Google Chrome.
- Click the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner of your screen.
- In the drop-down menu that appears, click “Cast.”
You can cast nearly any webpage or streaming service from this menu. William Antonelli/Business Insider/Hulu
- You’ll be presented with a list of all the Chromecast devices in the area. Select yours, and your browser will appear on the Chromecast’s screen.
And that’s it: this compact little dongle will now allow you to enjoy all your favorite media, anywhere you can get a Wi-Fi connection and an HDMI port.