Google Chromecast: Great Product but a Very Much Un-Apple-like Installation

– WWAD (What Would Apple Do)?

– Google May Be Better Able to Produce a Next-Gen TV than Apple

Google’s new Chromecast has received mostly favorable reports and rightly so. There are, however, shortcomings.

It’s not as easy to install as an Apple TV. For starters, the setup can only be done on a smartphone or laptop. It cannot be done on a tablet although Google promises it’s working on an iOS app for the iPad. It can only be done on a PC that has Wi-Fi, which excludes most desk units.

In the long run, the time spent installing may not matter because of the pleasure the Chromecast brings but in the short term it’s a needless headache. The new purchaser is excited to get started but, after a seeming eternity spent trying to use an iPad to install Chromecast, he determines that is not doable. That is after lost minutes trying to find where the available HDMI connector is on the TV set and snaking the AC cord down to an electrical outlet only to find that all the outlets are already in use.

Then the installer heads to a desktop PC only to find after more agonizing minutes that when Google says “laptop,” it does not mean a PC but a laptop that has Wi-Fi. Unfortunately the laptop has been stored in a closet since the purchase of the iPad so that unit has to be found and recharged. The laptop has to be within 20 feet of the Chromecast so using the laptop in the library when the Chromecast is in the bedroom won’t do. The laptop has to be taken to the bedroom and plugged in there

Before the availability of the 11ac version of Wi-Fi, many people installed more than one Wi-Fi router and so have two Wi-Fi networks, each with their own name and password. (I have four but that’s attributable to the need to test the 11ac version for an article I was writing.) The installer has to be sure the Chromecast and the laptop are on the same Wi-Fi network — mine were not but at least Google told me to be on the lookout for that.

Once the laptop and Chromecast had connected, the installation was completed. I went back to the iPad and started the Netflix app, which asked whether I wanted to view on the Chromecast or the Apple TV.

During the entire hour plus installation, one question kept popping into my mind: “WWAD” for “what would Apple do.” Apple certainly would not have launched a product with an incomplete Chromecast-like installation procedure.

Because my Apple TV is connected to the router with a wireline Ethernet connector, it starts playing video much sooner than the Chromecast, which has to take a few seconds at the beginning to buffer the video.

After that it’s Chromecast nirvana. All that’s needed now are more Chromecast apps, especially a Vudu app so we can watch all the movies and TV shows we have in our Vudu library. Apple TV does not and probably will never have a Vudu app.

Google has a very bad habit of releasing products that are unfinished. It did the same with the first version of Google TV. After that flopped it admitted that it had known Google TV was not ready for end users even though it had knowingly let Sony and Logitech spending millions to launch products based on Google TV.

Since then Google has launched a “new and improved” Google TV and claimed that by mid-2012 every TV would include Google TV technology. They do not. The latest iteration of Google TV does not look and operate much better than the one it first launched, the one it later admitted was not ready for primetime.

The Chromecast launch has rightly raised the question whether Google TV is dead — we say it is although what killed Google TV is Google TV, not the Chromecast.

 

Google Is Positioned to Beat Apple to Market with a TV Set

The next question is whether Google will proceed to the next step, as Apple is repeatedly reported to be doing, and launch a TV set.

The final questions for both Apple and Google is whether their TV set will be OTT only or a hybrid OTT/pay TV product. If it’s a hybrid OTT/pay TV box, will it have DVR functions, either in the cloud, as seems likely, or on an internal hard disk. At that point the two technology giants will have produced a TiVo with a 4K (hopefully) TV screen. Surely they would not think of anything less than 4K!

Google has all the pieces to make a great TV set.

– First, it owns….

 

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