Thursday, October 22, 2015

Discovering the simple elegance in chromecast-ing

I must admit I had been ignoring Apple TV, streaming, chrome casting and such. Unlike the supposed typical Australian net user I don’t use such technology to download pirate videos of the lastest TV show from the USA. So I am late coming to the wonderful little chromecast dongle. Rather than playing with streaming video, I came across the wonders of the chrome cast as a way to avoid cables and incompatibilities when giving a presentation (or training session) directly from my computer. What it can do is allow you to throw your screen onto any modern TV and most data projectors without a cable. Thus avoiding resetting screen resolution, cables not long enough or other such hassles. The TV, Big screen or projector just needs a HDMI input and most recent equipment will come with this. You just plug in the chromecast dongle into the HDMI socket (it generally needs to be connected to separate power supply, a charger is supplied with the dongle but any powered USB port is fine). No need for a bag of extra speciality cables

There is a downside, you need to have WiFi, both to set up the the chrome cast at a new location and carry the stream from your screen during the presentation. Most venues these days do have internet & WiFi but if they don’t and If you have a smartphone that can create a local hotspot that will be fine for running a powerpoint or a live demo of software. Perfect for a travelling trainer. However it could be a very expensive way to stream cast a full movie from somewhere else on the internet, depending on your phones data package.

You can broadcast from your phone or tablet via special apps, and you probably already have some of these. For example the You Tube app on android will direct the YouTube clip to your chromecast, no need to download it first. Google Slides, can make a slide show presentation located on google drive directly controlled from your from your phone (and yes it can read powerpoint files). The real power lies in the ability to send the contents of any chrome browser tab, to the chromecast, and thus big screen it is connected to. The current version also has the ability to send an application output or your entire screen (these later options are in beta release and can be a little laggy at times). So as long as you have a chrome browser you can send anything you can get on your PC screen onto a larger presentation stage. All without any fuss.

I also like the backdrop (aka screen wallpaper) settings on the unit which lets you use your own pictures from Google Photos, Flickr (or facebook if you must) or just stick with the google selected photo as a slideshow screen saver.

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