AirPlay Killer

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by chumawumba, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. chumawumba macrumors 6502


    Aug 9, 2012
    Ask the NSA
    In case you guys haven't heard yet, google unveiled something called the Chromecast today. It basically lets you mirror video from places like Youtube and Netflix to your Chromecast ( A USB shaped thing which plugs into an HDMI port.)
    from any laptop, tablet or phone. (Yes it works with iOS too.)
  2. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    They forgot 2 important things:
    The apple TV has built in power supply. This unit demands a simple but awkward looking generic USB power supply.
    The apple TV still has a wired ethernet port. Wifi sucks in many situations.
  3. Dan DRC macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2011
    Ok I will play along
    So why exactly is this an "Airplay Killer"
  4. jdecosta macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2012
    Most TV's have a USB port on the back
  5. rocknblogger macrumors 68020


    Apr 2, 2011
    New Jersey
    I'm not saying that it's an Airplay killer but, it's only $35 and has the capability to stream pretty much anything from your Chrome browser. As I understand it, it has a dedicated Netflix app and an open API meaning that developers will more than likely build apps for it. The demo was very compelling. For $35 it's really a no brainer. And it's the size of a USB sick.
  6. BaldiMac macrumors 604


    Jan 24, 2008
    Can it display/mirror content from your device, or does it simply stream from the internet?
  7. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    The proof of what it can/can't do will be hands-on use. Right now, it's all just marketing hype. We've seen that many times from Google before, only to have the products be less than promised.

    Wait and see.
  8. twintin, Jul 26, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013

    twintin macrumors 6502

    Aug 10, 2012
    Only WEB page mirroring is supported by the chrome browser, no screen mirroring. However, when playing embedded videos a flinging session is started, which means the WEB link of the embedded video is handed over to the Chromecast device, which proceeds the streaming from the cloud without further involvement of your device (e.g. IPhone).
  9. scottw324 macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2012
    Yep, saw, and I am interested but........still want to stream content from my phone to it like I can do with AirPlay and show a video I just took in my iPhone or play video content from my media server like I do with iTunes and my ATVs. Not knocking it at all just want it to do more. $35 is a great price. Might wait until there are more options or version 2 comes out.
  10. MonkeySee.... macrumors 68040


    Sep 24, 2010
    Apparently it doesn't. Yet.
  11. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    I was going to make an impulse buy on this, just because after the Netflix discount (even for existing customers like me) it was going to be like $13 after tax. Couldn't find one at my local Best Buy, though, and the Netflix discount seems to be gone now, so for $35 + tax, any appeal it had is pretty much gone for me. I'm not sure what I would have done with it, anyway, since I already have a few ATV2/ATV3's, and this doesn't do anything *more* than those.

    I think it's great that the Android community finally has something inexpensive and officially sanctioned by Google which offers AirPlay-like functionality. As has been detailed by others, it's not really using the same methodology as AirPlay, but it does provide the same end-result for certain things.

    I'll add that for some of those types of things, the methodology it uses is superior to Apple's AirPlay implementation. For example, if I want to find a TV show to watch using the Netflix app on my iPhone and decide to start it up and beam it to my Apple TV, I'd prefer for the Apple TV to take over all of the heavy lifting and fetch the show itself, and have my iPhone just become an [optional] remote control for pausing, etc. Instead, Apple's implementation results in my iPhone doing the heavy lifting of streaming the show and decoding it (and sucking down battery life) and then pushing it over my home network to my Apple TV (resulting in additional network hops that could result in playback interruptions). In fact, the Google Chromecast methodology is pretty much exactly what I recommended long ago should have been Apple's approach for these use cases.

    Now, for other use cases (e.g., showing off the photos/videos stored on my iPhone, or doing a PowerPoint presentation from an iPad or laptop), the Apple AirPlay methodology is superior. Then there are use cases for a dual-screen approach (e.g., playing a game where the iPhone becomes a custom game controller and the game itself is displayed on the TV) which, again, the Apple TV is capable of doing, and this Chromecast device may never be capable of.

    I should note on that last point, that the Chromecast, like an ATV/iPhone does contain a little computer of its own inside. I'm not knowledgeable about the CPU/GPU specs, RAM, onboard storage, etc., so I don't know to what extent it can/cannot be improved via firmware updates. I suspect that it's less capable than an ATV3, though. I base this opinion largely on the price they're offering it at.

    Circling back to Apple's approach...even for some of the functionality that it's capable of (mirroring your screen), it's not without its limitations. Specifically, lagginess/delays. If I mirror my MacBook screen, there's an obvious lag between the mouse pointer moving on my laptop and seeing the mouse pointer move on my TV. Again, this is likely due primarily to the multiple network hops going on. This is why a lot of folks have expressed a desire for WiFi direct. I think that will require new iOS hardware, though (both a new ATV hardware revision and a new generation of iPhone).

    The new support for Bluetooth gaming controllers in iOS7 may also, hopefully, address lag issues for gaming, but it would still seem to me that to fully address that, they also need to incorporate another recommendation I've made in the past: storing the app (or some portion of it) directly on the ATV itself. Unlike a lot of people clamoring for "apps on the ATV", though, my vision is a little different. I'm envisioning a platform where the iPhone or iPad is still your "hub" where all of your apps are stored. But if you want to play a game or use some other 3rd party video app, and stream it to your TV, what happens is the app (or some portion of it) gets transferred to the ATV, so that the ATV can do most of the heavy lifting. The iPhone/iPad then become the controller. When you're done using the app, the ATV may still cache the app code for some period of time. That way, if you go to use the same app again soon thereafter, it doesn't need to take the extra time to re-transfer the app code from your iPhone to the ATV again every time. Perhaps 1GB of storage gets dedicated to the app cache, so whenever it fills up, it starts deleting the oldest used apps/data.

    Anyway, at this point, I'm still optimistic that Apple will continue to improve the ATV. The more than can improve using the current hardware platform, so as to maintain backward compatibility, the better. But at $99/box, I'm not opposed to ditching some/all of my current ATV's if there's some important improvements they want to make that require new hardware.
  12. TallManNY macrumors 601


    Nov 5, 2007
    Apple TV is getting new channels and with that new functionality. So it will still be the leader over this device.

    But this device is so cheap and it will attach so seamlessly. I've got a USB port on the back of my TV and a free HDMI input. So I can install this and have no new box on the table the TV sits on. Nice.
  13. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    So, from what I read the Chromecast isn't as good as the AppleTV (no system-wide screen sharing from iOS or OS X for example) but is probably good enough for most people that it will be significant competition. Particularly at that price point.

    For lots of people, just being able to navigate to (whatever site they source their video streams) on their laptop and streaming that wirelessly to their HDTVs is enough of a killer feature.
  14. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    I don't know. I was reading the MR headline and comments after it were acting as if we just had the second coming (I mean that in a religious way). Here it's been a couple days, stocks all sold out and no one posting about how wonderful it is in actual use. Makes me wonder. ;)
  15. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    One thing I'm curious about...they talk about how it's great that you can leave the app and go do something else. Well, what if you start up a video, then start looking for a different video to play, then decide you want to pause the video that's currently playing on your TV via the Chromecast? Won't the pause/play/FF/RW controls no longer be up since you've started playing some other video locally on your phone/tablet?
  16. yinz macrumors 6502a

    Apr 12, 2012
    I think the Chromecast would be great for travelling around to watch your own content at a friend's house or if possible at a hotel. The fact that pretty much any device that can go online can access it makes it a compelling buy.

    If the Apple TV was more compatible with other devices (Safari maybe?), then it would be more compelling for non-Apple people to use it. I know this is not Apple's strategy, but if you want to include everyone, you have to open up a little.

    Back to Chromecast, I think it would be a great complement to your Apple TV for your travelling, entertainment needs. I don't think it's an Apple TV killer, but maybe a companion. The Apple TV does have more functionality to it.
  17. s15119 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2010
    For $35 I ordered one. It's a gadget. I'll have fun with it. Whether it's better or worse than My Apple TV is likely subjective - but it's certainly priced low enough to pick it up and play with it.
  18. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    I'd bet on most of the lag being due to hardware H.264/AVC (only video stream supported by AirPlay) encoding of entire framebuffer required for AirPlay Mirroring.
    In that sense, I don't see how Wi-Fi direct can ease this up?
    PS Wi-Di hardware is already present in all Unibody MacBooks (called AirDrop in Apple's marketing), and as I reckon, iOS 7 will bring AirDrop also to users of iPhone 5 and newer devices.
  19. Paulyboy macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2007
    Reposting this from an iMore discussion because I think it might be relevant.

    I picked up one of these yesterday at the Best Buy near my house and I got the Netflix promotional code. This was an unexpected surprise but I'll take it! They had two left. I live in a Apple house and simply wanted a way to inexpensively play Netflix on my large screen TV and it does that perfectly and I can continue using my devices for other things at the same time. I tried tab casting from my iMac and that worked pretty well too although any kind of video (like HBO GO) wasn't quite as good as the native applications but it is watchable. Dragging local files into the chrome browser on my iMac also worked well enough to watch.

    The only real downside I've seen is that it doesn't always automatically switch inputs for me when I start casting like it seems to for others. It does turn my TV on all the time when I start casting but doesn't always switch the input. Maybe it's because my LG HDTV is too old? No biggie though.

    One of the things I really like about this approach is that I'm not forced to use the "10 foot interfaces" of set top boxes like the Apple TV and Roku. I can simply use the iOS apps (for both an iPhone and iPad in my case) as I always do to browse, search for, and queue up videos to watch quickly and easily then send that programming off to my big-screen TV with two taps. It's certainly much quicker than what I could do with a clunky 10 foot interface. Personally I don't see having to depend on possessing a "larger, smarter, controller device" as being much of a problem. In all likelihood anybody who's going to be using something like this already has a smartphone, tablet, or both. If you don't, and really feel that you need something like this, go buy yourself an older, used iPod Touch or something. It's also nice that I can still use my iPhone or iPad for other things after casting something off to my HDTV.

    I also should mention that I am severely disabled in a wheelchair with my iPhone mounted on my right arm rest. So not having to use a 10 foot interface (which is difficult and awkward for me) or reach for yet another remote, is awesome. The more my iPhone can be a remote for the better as far as I'm concerned, especially if it's done in a way that I'm already familiar and comfortable with (just as this is).

    Whenever I go to visit my father, which should be soon, I plan on taking the Chromecast with me so we can watch Netflix there. So there again is another benefit.

    So overall it's really hard to criticize this thing for $11 (if you've got the Netflix promotion like I did) or even $35. And I imagine it's only going to get better. Of course if Apple came out with something similar I'd jump all over that in a second but right now that's not the case. It's going to be very interesting to see what happens with this thing over the next few months.

  20. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Interesting that he terms anything other than Netflix as "watchable". That doesn't say much for quality. From reading reviews at Amazon, which are 4+ stars, it seems like it is mostly a Netflix dongle and if that's what you are looking for it is very good. Lots of "hopes" that it will do more in the future. From my experience with media streamers, if you are hoping it will do more in the future, you are going to be disappointed. Also, it appears they have dropped the 30 day Netflix promotion which eliminates the rational that that it only costs $11. Will see how that plays out.

    Anyway, I am happy for Android users. It's nice they have something that is useful. :D
  21. Paulyboy, Jul 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013

    Paulyboy macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2007
    It's true that only Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play are supported natively at the moment but Pandora has already stated that native support is coming soon and there's already been proof discovered that numerous other apps are going to support this as well, like HBO GO. Google Play may not seem all that relevant to Mac and iOS users but you can actually purchase movies and television shows with your Google account from there and then access them from the "purchased" tab in the IOS YouTube app, which then can be casted to your TV natively with Chromecast. So you're not exactly stuck with just using Netflix right now (which isn't exactly a bad thing) and more is coming whether you want to believe it or not. The tab casting feature is labeled as a "beta" feature that is apparently going to be improved quite a bit with the next version of the Chrome browser. But even now video-based websites are "watchable", at least on my Internet connection. The handful of people that I showed it to thought video from tab casting was watchable anyways. It's not something I plan on doing, especially since native support for other applications that I use is coming, but I thought I'd mention it anyways.

    And while I did get it for essentially $11 I did mention that I thought $35 was worth it as well. But you seem so eager to knock anything that isn't Apple down anyways so nothing I say will probably prevent you from doing so again. I didn't say it was Apple TV killer or anything so relax. :p

  22. boomhower macrumors 68000


    Oct 21, 2011
    Certainly not a killer but a great device for Android users. It's more limiting in general to me but does have some advantages. What I like about Airplay is that it's available on other devices. Namely my reciever. I can stream directly from my phone or ipad without needing to turn on the TV and AppleTV.
  23. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    First of all, the only mention from your post was your comment about "watchable. The rest of my comments were directed from Amazon reviews. So you need to relax, not me.

    I have tried many media streamers over the last few years that were not Apple products. Most were underperforming glitchy pieces of junk that kept promising improvements and new features with future updates, that never occurred. The aTV was the only one that delivered what they said and didn't rely on future feature promises to make their product attractive.

    So excuse me if I am skeptical especially for $35 (or $11 however you want to look at it). For $15 more why not just buy a Roku? It's a decent piece of equipment with a proven track record?


    Better watch what you say. Android users seem to be a sensitive bunch!!;)
  24. Paulyboy macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2007
    My apologies. I've seen so much hatred directed towards this thing over the last couple days by Apple users it's kind of made me not particularly proud of being one myself – and I am one ("I live in a Apple house" from my original post). it's working really well for me and almost every negative comment I've read has come from people, mostly Apple people, who obviously haven't even used the device so I felt compelled to defend it. Your post isn't exactly dripping in negativity but I mistakenly got that impression from it.

    Let's see what the future holds for it.

  25. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Apology accepted! You're a scholar and a gentleman and we can be friends again. :D

    And I agree with you, only time will tell where this thing ends up. But I do have a fair degree of skepticism about it. Google has a history of releasing things they say will change world order...then the things disappear. GoogleTV, Nexus Q are two examples that come to mind.

Share This Page