As rumoured, the Google Chromecast HDMI dongle, has launched in the UK. Here's everything you need to know about the Chromecast's price, specs, compatible devices and which services are available. See also: Chromecast review.
What is the Google Chromecast?
The Chromecast is a new media streaming gadget which plugs straight into one of your TV's HDMI ports – in the same way you plug USB devices into a PC or laptop. It can then be used to stream content from different sources over the internet while being controlled from your smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac. Take a look at our Google Chromecast vs Roku Streaming Stick comparison review too.
The Chromecast will go up against devices including Apple TV and Roku's upcoming Streaming Stick.
Google Chromecast: UK price and where to buy
Google launched the Chromecast HDMI dongle in the US way back in July 2013. After a long wait it is finally available in the UK for a price of just £30.
Google Chromecast: What services can I stream and watch?
The Chromecast allows content to be streamed, or 'cast', to your TV with the help of a compatible device (see below). Google said you can enjoy movies, TV shows, videos, music, photos, websites on the big screen.
Take a look at: How to set up a Chromecast.
Services include Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music and BBC iPlayer. You can also cast websites via the Chrome browser. Apps on your device compatible with Chromecast will gain a symbol.
Additional services include Red Bull TV, VEVO, Plex and RealPlayer Cloud. Keep an eye out for more soon.
Google added TV shows to the UK Play Store at the beginning of August. It already offered movie streaming in SD and HD, but the lack of TV shows put it at a disadvantage compared with the iTunes store and Apple’s own Apple TV streamer, which costs £99.
Now, TV shows including Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Walking Dead and other popular series can be streamed for £1.89 per episode, or £2.49 in HD.
Last month Google released its Chromecast SDK (software development kit) to the world. Previously, the Chromecast was a largely closed system, allowing only a few developers to distribute apps (other publishers could only build apps using the preview SDK). Now, anyone and everyone is free to build Chromecast support into their apps.
The official Chromecast app was launched on the UK Google Play Store in December.
Google Chromecast: Compatible devices and operating systems
You might think that the Google Chromecast is only compatible with Android devices, but you'd be wrong. As well as being compatible with any device with Android 2.3 or later, the Chromecast supports iPhones and iPads with iOS 6 or later, Windows 7 and higher, Mac OS X 10.7 or newer and devices with Chrome OS (Chromebook Pixel initially with additional Chromebooks coming soon).
The Chromecast doesn't come with a remote control so you can use any of the above devices to control what content you stream to your TV.
Google Chromecast: Specs
A small device like the Chromecast doesn't have many specifications but here they are. The HDMI dongle weighs just 34g and has dimensions of 72 x 35 x 12mm. It uses HDMI, as we've said already and support video output up to 1080p (Full HD) resolution. Content is streamed over its built-in 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi.
It also has a microUSB port which is needed for power. You can either plug the Chromecast into a USB port on your TV if it has one, or plug it into the mains power.
It's also CEC compatible. This stands for Consumer Electronics Control and essentially means it can be controlled by the devices we've listed above. See also: What can you watch on Google Chromecast in UK? and Why Google's Chromecast is a game changer.