chromecast

When Google announced its new Nexus line of products, I was most excited about the Nexus Player. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Google succeeded in creating a breakthrough product. Yet anyway.

Ars Technica has a great review which you can read here. The summary:

Unfortunately for Google’s living room ambitions, the Nexus Player isn’t very good. Despite the company’s experience with Google TV, the Nexus Player and Android TV are first-gen products with lots of first-gen problems. The hardware/software combo flops on many of the basics—such as playing video smoothly—and doesn’t deliver on any of the compelling experiences “Android on your TV” would seem able to provide. Apps and games are presumably supposed to be the big differentiator here from the Chromecast and Apple TV, but the Play Store interface is clunky and, instead of 1.4 million Android apps, you get access to about 70. It’s also pretty buggy.

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I have the Chromecast and some things are awesome on it. Unfortunately, it’s a limited device in that strictly speaking, the Chromecast doesn’t mirror content, it streams from the web. This means that outside of a few phones, you can’t project games to your TV, which I’ve argued could disrupt the games industry. It also means you can’t project your PowerPoint presentation to the TV.

That changes with Microsoft’s Wireless Display Adapter (awful, awful name). It uses the Miracast standard to mirror your Windows and Android devices to the TV so you don’t even need Wi-Fi to make it work. Check out the video to see how Microsoft wants you to use it:

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I purchased the Chromecast eons ago, partly out of curiosity and partly because the price was low enough to be an impulse buy.  I haven’t used it much as my PC is directly connected to my big screen TV so the Chromecast’s raison d’etre doesn’t apply in my case.

Recently, I discovered a killer app for the Chromecast – all you hardcore people probably know about this already; I was late to the party because of the iPhone 5S – and it changes everything for the dongle.

It’s called Popcorn Time for Android.

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Want to play vintage console games on your big screen TV, but don’t want vintage, bulky consoles in your living room?  If you have an Android phone, you can now do so for merely $55.  Here’s how.

First, you’ll need a $35 Chromecast, an HDMI device you plug into your TV which allows your TV screen to mirror your Android phone.  This capability is limited to select phones but that should expand in the future.  Unfortunately, my Moto G isn’t capable of mirroring via Chromecast, so I don’t know if there’s lag between what’s on the phone and on TV.  For those of you who can test it, please leave a comment about your experience!

Next, download an emulator app like Super GNES ($4 for the pro version).  We won’t talk about how you, uh, acquire ROMs (basically, Super Nintendo game software), but you can find them easily on the Internet and they are mostly free.

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Lots of really good stuff at Google’s I/O conference.  I’m sure we’ll be delving into Android L and other announcements in more detail in the coming days, but today I’m shooting from the hip and unpacking what caught my attention.

If you haven’t watched it already, see the gargantuan 3 hour keynote here:

My most immediate reaction is “Wow.”  Google is killing it.  Android extends its lead over iOS and Microsoft is way behind in the rear view mirror.

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Yesterday’s post talked about how Apple should execute a gaming-capable Apple TV.  Today, I’m putting my product manager hat on to sketch out in more detail what the end product can look like.  I don’t do it with a fanboy’s wishlist, but with what is realistic and practical for a good engineering team to achieve.

Be forewarned, this post is going to feel dense and maybe even boring if you’re not into this kind of thing.

On to gaming on Apple TV:

  • What it is exactly — streaming device plus controller
  • How it works — only show compatible content, with an interface similar to the current Apple TV and navigation by either controller or app
  • How much it costs — $45 to make, $60 to sell

If Apple makes the product I am proposing, it could disrupt the entire game console market that Sony and Microsoft are currently racing to win.

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