Opinion post byOliver Cragg
Here's an uncontroversial opinion: the Google Chromecast is pretty great.The big G has a spotty historical past with media gamers (hello, Nexus Q), but the Chromecast has been a beacon of quality ever because it was first introduced in 2013.See a video on your phone or PC?Hit that Cast button and boom, it's on your TV. Throw in the good value price tag and continuously expanding aid for fresh streaming platforms (most recently Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus) and the Chromecast is still the easiest and cheapest way to turn even the dumbest TV into a user-pleasant streaming laptop.Despite its simple brilliance and popularity among buyers, nevertheless it, the Chromecast feels like the forgotten child every time the hunt giant holds a hardware launch event. That must change this year, and a great spot to begin could be lastly introducing a long-asked function.
It's time for Google to give us a Chromecast with a remote.On the floor, adding a secondary bit of kit to the Chromecast kit seems a little counterintuitive. Google's entire Cast atmosphere is app- and voice-based. Why would you have to a remote when that you can use your phone to handle your media, or simply ask Google Assistant?
It's a fair query and, honestly, the lack of a remote was something I had never really considered a difficulty until a few months ago.For some context, I currently did anything I should've done years ago: I cut the cord. After years of purchasing cable TV, a forced price hike gifted to me by my provider in advance of Christmas (thanks for that, Virgin Media) finally gave me the kick I had to sever those wires.
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Several onerous calls with retentions later and gone were the a whole lot of strange and lovely channels no one ever watched. With Netflix, Prime Video, and Now TV subscriptions in the bag (and soon Disney Plus when it lastly launches in the UK), I had fully pledged my undying fealty to the streaming overlords. Now all I needed was a way to truly use all those platforms on a TV.Having fast banished the assumption of depending on a smart TV OS for anything (they're really bad), I at the beginning turned to my two Chromecasts as an alternate — one unique model and 1/3-generation unit — as a stand-in for all my TV needs. It didn't take long to detect this might only ever be a brief fix. Waving goodbye to my dust-covered Tivo box turned out to be a breeze, but living without a remote stung much harder than I'd ever anticipated.
best Chromecast apps out there, it's all still a global clear of having an reputable TV guide or interface which you could flick thru. Assistant isn't an outstanding help either due to limited aid for a few of even the greatest streaming apps.I knew all this entering into, but I was also aware that I already owned two Chromecasts.Having just cut my triple-play package to simply fiber broadband (I also bumped off my home phone line as a result of, well, I've got a smartphone), I was browsing at a good saving if I did not have to spend any extra on new streaming instruments. The deal-breaker, but it, was the Chromecast playback controls.Assuming you're using a phone and not a PC or laptop, the best scenario for casting content to a Chromecast is via officially-supported media apps (Netflix, Play Movies, etc. ) or the Chrome browser. Not only is the process really simple, but you also can use your phone to rewind and fast ahead, raise and lower the volume, switch to a special Cast device, and much more with a few taps or swipes of the touchscreen.The draw back is you must navigate back to each app each time or keep a tab open in Chrome.Alternatively, that you could depend on the Cast slide that pops up in the notification bar, though in my adventure this disappears at random and sometimes doesn't show at all. There's also the Google Home app, but that only permits you to alter the volume or pause for some bizarre reason.Finally, there's Assistant, though asking Google's voice assistant to do anything too problematical customarily effects in a "sorry, I do not know how to try this" response.Even if that you may abdomen all the above, having to depend on your phone to do something as simple as skip back a few minutes to copy a line in a film can be awkward. What in the event that your phone is on charge in a different room?What if a person is using it to make a call?What if you really need to tell all of your followers on Twitter that the newest episode of your favourite show is barely one of the best ever, guys?
A phone seriously isn't so simple as a good old fashioned remote
A Chromecast remote wouldn't be the main stylish solution, but it would be the easiest. It seems pretty clear at this stage that Google is hoping its voice tech will at last mature enough to dispose of the desire for anything but voice instructions to interact with its a range of merchandise. But until the day comes that Assistant is familiar with when I want to watch an episode of Breaking Bad and never a clip video set to terrible music on YouTube, I'll take pressing a few old school rubber buttons on a plastic stick, please.
Of course, anything a large number of Chromecast users do not know is which you could in reality use a traditional remote with it — and I don't just mean adjusting the quantity of your TV when you're casting. All you need is a set that helps HDMI-CEC. The draw back?Even though it's totally possible from a technical perspective, Cast does not aid fast forward, rewind, or preventing via this system. Close, but no cigar.
Roku Streaming Stick Plus for our living room TV and an Nvidia Shield TV (2019) for my office setup. Roku's remote is a little ugly, however the commonplace search function works brilliantly.Read more: The best Roku streaming gamers: What are your options?
The Shield TV's remote, regardless of its weird Toblerone-like ergonomics, also is great. More than that though, it's a vision of what can be if Google basically sold a Chromecast with a remote.The Shield TV's built-in Chromecast capability is fully suitable with the bundled remote, and that consists of rewinding and fast-forwarding. Imagine that.Not everyone will look to their Chromecasts as a full alternative for cable or satellite TV like I did, nor should they, really. It was a little unfair of me to expect them to be an all-encompassing streaming solution — that's why Android TV exists. Nevertheless, I still don't see why Google is maintaining out on what can be an apparent upgrade for the Chromecast family.
The Chromecast merits more love from Google
As one of Google's greatest hardware propositions, you'd think it'd be desperate to capitalize and expand on its luck. Instead, we saw an incremental hardware improve in 2018 and it's been radio silence ever since. Things are even worse for the 4K model, the Chromecast Ultra, which hasn't been up to date since 2016. Even the (bungled) launch of Stadia couldn't persuade Google to indicate its most premium streaming product some overdue love.The Chromecast remains to be a good product and Google Cast has developed well past its humble beginnings in recent times. It's high time for a hardware refresh, though, and while it may pain Google to give in and follow in the footsteps of Amazon, Apple, Nvidia, and other media player makers, there's still no replacement for a good old fashioned remote.