The days of sitting down at a predetermined time to watch your favourite shows on broadcast TV are long gone. These days, many of us watch a considerable amount of TV without ever tuning into a broadcast channel at all. Whether it’s using your favourite channels’ catch-up apps to stream your shows on your schedule, or brand-new binge-watching creations from Netflix or on Now TV, the revolution collectively known as IPTV has changed entertainment forever.
IPTV is, by the way, a term you’ll hear less and less as it moves further into the mainstream. Standing for “Internet Protocol TV” (the “IP” is literally your internet connection) we tend to refer to it all under one overarching name these days – streaming TV.
And if you’ve been wanting to get into streaming TV but don’t have access to either a so-called “smart” TV or a stand-alone set-top box to run streaming apps with, you’re not excluded from all the fun. As long as you’ve got a mobile phone or tablet – iOS or Android – you can get yourself fully immersed into streaming without spending a fortune. All you need is the Google Chromecast.
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What Is a Google Chromecast?
Borrowing its name from Google’s popular web browser – but otherwise not related to it – Chromecast is a tiny device that plugs into a spare HDMI port on your TV. Once it’s plugged in and connected to your home’s wi-fi network, you can use any of thousands of apps that support Chromecast to command the device to stream video for you, direct from the internet to your TV. It’s a process known as “casting”, and it lets you stream just about anything on your big screen TV without spending a ton of money.
Where Can I Get a Google Chromecast?
The best place to get yourself a genuine Google Chromecast – now in its third generation and more powerful than ever – is to buy it from Google themselves. You can order one directly from the Google online store for only £30 with free delivery. Or, if you’ve got a 4K-capable TV and want to stream Ultra HD from services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, you can pick up the Chromecast Ultra for £69.
Be sure to get a genuine Chromecast – there are several products on sale at outlets like Amazon UK that deceptively look like a real Chromecast, but are in fact cheap copies (which cost, by the way, almost the same as the genuine article!).
How to Set Up Your Chromecast
Once your Chromecast has arrived, getting it set up so you can start streaming is incredibly easy. You just need to follow these steps on how to set up your Chromecast.
- Make sure you have all the things you need at hand – the Chromecast device itself and its USB power pack (included in the box). While Chromecast can take power from a USB port on your TV, we recommend using the power pack for more reliable performance, as many TVs simply don’t supply enough power via USB.
- Free the HDMI plug from the body of the Chromecast (it sticks on with a magnet which will come in handy shortly) and plug it into a spare HDMI port on the back of your TV (or, if you prefer, a HDMI port on your AV receiver).
- Connect the power adapter’s mini-USB plug to the Chromecast and plug the other end into the nearest wall socket.
- Download the Google Home app (if you don’t already have it) and turn on your TV. Using your TV’s remote control, switch to the HDMI input you connected the Chromecast to.
- Run the Google Home app, making sure your phone or tablet has wi-fi turned on. Your new Chromecast will appear in the app, and all you need to do is follow the prompts from there to get it all set up – be sure to know your wi-fi’s name and password because you’ll need those to finish setup and get the Chromecast connected to your wi-fi. You’ll be asked to give your Chromecast a name – choose one you can easily recognise as yours.
And that’s it! It really is that simple – about as close to “plug and play” as a modern device can get.
How to Use Chromecast
Once you’re all set up, when you load any app that has Chromecast support – almost all streaming video apps do – you’ll see a little rectangular icon either in the top right of the screen or in a circle down near the bottom left. To send high definition video from that app directly to your TV with Chromecast, all you need to do is tap that icon, and select your Chromecast from the list which pops up. From that point on, everything you play in the app will stream directly to your TV instead – your phone or tablet becomes an interactive remote control. It’s simple, and it’s brilliant!
Chromecast in Other Devices
One last thing before you rush out to buy a Chromecast – check that you don’t already have a device that’s got Chromecast built-in! Many modern TVs that use the Android TV system have a Chromecast under the hood ready to use, and you’ll also find Chromecast support built into some other devices like AV receivers. If one of your devices has support, you’ll see a “Chromecast Built-in” label on the device or in its user manual.
And that’s all there is to it – once you’re set-up, you can stream to your heart’s content, enjoying IPTV from across the vast internet with all the control in the palm of your hand, and Chromecast providing the high definition video. And all without spending a fortune!
Streaming Apps Available via Google Chromecast
Looking for something to watch with your Google Chromecast? Good news is, there’s a whole lot of streaming apps that work seamlessly with this device. Aside from popular streaming apps such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, you can also readily stream other hit shows and movies across several other apps from free to air catch up to other premium content services. Check out the full list below: