Chromecast: The Basics
Google’s Chromecast is a great and relatively cheap video streaming device with tons of awesome functionality. It’s really easy to set up and you can use your smartphone or computer as a remote control.
There’s tons of different ways you can use the Chromecast, like watching video through streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube or Amazon Prime Video. And you can also use it to stream all sorts of media from your PC, Laptop, Smartphone or tablet.
In terms of form-factor the Chromecast is a small circular device, that plugs into your TV via HDMI. It’s not a lot bigger than a USB flash drive and magnetic, in order to attach it onto a metal surface like your HDMI cable, which makes it really neat and tidy.
How to setup your Chromecast
Setting up your Chromecast is pretty simple: All you have to do is plug in the Chromecast into your TV via HDMI and connect the USB power cable to your Chromecast on one end and a power outlet on the other.
Next, make sure your Chromecast and the mobile device or tablet are in the same Wi-Fi network. Download the Google Home app on your mobile device or tablet and set up Chromecast, by following the instruction in the app.
How you control the Chromecast
For some that might be a dealbreaker, others love it but the fact is Chromecast can only be controlled with a phone or tablet.
Once you’ve got your Google Chromecast all set up, the next step is to actually watch things on it. In case you missed the streaming tutorial during the setup (or didn’t get it the first time around), the process is pretty simple.
Just find a compatible app (Google lists a few, although there are thousands), open it up, and press the Cast button. It looks like a little TV screen. Your content should now show up on your TV.
Ways to stream video on Chromecast
To stream media to your TV using the Chromecast device, you must have a Wi-Fi network already set up in your home. Using your wireless router, you can:
Stream from a mobile device. You can use your phone or tablet to stream content. Before doing so, you must install the Chromecast app or a Google Cast compatible app on your device.
Use it as local storage. If you have a music or video library, you can stream this, too. You can share folders on your computer, an external hard drive, NAS (network-attached storage), etc. You just have to make sure it’s available as a shared resource on your home network.
Stream from the internet. If you’re using your laptop or desktop computer to stream music and video, you need to use Google’s Chrome web browser. The key advantage of streaming this way is tab casting — in simple terms, mirroring what you see on your device to the big screen.
Video Streaming Chromecast on Phones and Tablets
Cast a video streaming app (like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify etc.)
First, make sure your TV and mobile device are turned on (duh). Make sure you have Google Home installed.
On your mobile device, open the app you want to use (Netflix, Youtube or any other app that’s compatible). Every compatible app has a cast button, located somewhere at the top right or bottom right corner of the display. The icon looks like a tilted Wifi-signal icon pushed together with a square.
Now you just have to choose the chromecast you want to stream to (if you have more than one) and within a couple of moments the content will appear on your TV screen. Now your phone or tablet will be your remote control.
Cast your whole screen on Chromecast (mobile device)
Instead of casting through Apps like Netflix, you can also just cast your whole phone- or tablet screen. It’s pretty easy: Just tap Connected devices and then Cast and select your Chromecast.
Video Streaming Chromecast on PC and Mac
Video Stream Chromecast with a Video Player: VLC (PC and Mac)
If you already have a great collection of videos on your PC, the VLC Player is an easy and free way to stream them to your Chromecast.
It’s actually very simple to get that set up. Download the VLC Player, and follow all steps to install it. In order to use the VLC media player, you will be asked to allow privacy and network access. VLC has been around for more than a decade, so you can rest easy.
The wording in VLC is a bit different than what you might be used to from using Chromecast with other applications. On the top left, go to Playback –> Renderer and choose your Chromecast Device.
By default it the Local option will be checked, which is your computer speaker. All your Chromecasts and other streaming media devices should show up. In order to stream to your Chromecast, select the device in the options menu.
After you have chosen the right device, you can basically use the VLC player as you would any other video player. Just select any type of file and start the playback with VLC.
Video Stream Chromecast from Media Server: Plex (PC or Mac)
If you already have a NAS set up, the free application Plex is another great way to stream content to a Chromecast. The cool thing is, Plex scans and organizes your media into its own library which makes using it very convenient.
Also, Plex works through a host of different devices, which makes it very powerful, once set up. Since Chromecast does not have it’s own interface, but works through casting content from your devices, Plex is a great supplement to make the Chromecast experience more convenient.
We will assume that you have your Chromecast already set up. Next, download Plex from the Website and install it onto your computer, following the on-screen instructions.
In your Chrome browser, type in chrome://cast and view the list of your devices. The site will show all your devices, if it’s not set up yet, just follow the on-screen instructions.
Navigation in Plex is super easy. Start the content you want to watch on your TV through chromecast and hit the Cast icon on the top right.
If the video you are playing off of Plex is choppy or skipps you have the option to manually adjust the bitrate. Just go to the top right, next to the casting icon, and click the symbol with the three adjustment levers.
Video Stream Chromecast with Browser: Chrome browser (PC or Mac)
It’s also pretty simple, to use a PC or Mac and cast through your chrome browser. Just open the Chrome browser, go to the top right, click More and then Cast. When you’ve finished, go to the right of the address bar, click Cast and then Stop.
Cast your whole Screen (PC or Mac)
Besides using Chrome, you can also just display your entire computer screen.
Once again, open Chrome. Like before click Cast. At the top, next to ‘Cast to‘, click the Down arrow. Click Cast desktop.
Choose your Chromecast device and now you will be casting your whole screen.
Using Google Voice Assistant
You can use Google’s super-smart Google Assistant voice AI on your phone or with compatible home speakers, which opens a host of new ways to interact with Chromecast.
What it comes down to: Google Assistant understands a bunch of different sets of voice commands that give you control over things like playback and choosing content, without having to use your phone or iPad.
The Best Commands for Google Assistant
You generally start speaking to your Google Assistant with the words “Hey Google…” followed by what you want to do. Google Assistant is great at understanding natural language, but here are some very easy commands it is sure to follow.
”Hey Google, watch Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu [device name].”
”Hey Google, watch ESPN on YouTube TV on [device name]..”
“Hey Google, launch [Channel] on [Roku/Apple TV etc].”
“Hey Google, find documentaries on Netflix”
”Hey Google, pause.”
”Hey Google, stop.”
”Hey Google, rewind.”
”Hey Google, fast forward 30 seconds.”
”Hey Google, next episode.”
”Hey Google, previous episode.”
“Hey Google, turn on [Roku/Apple TV etc].”
“Hey Google, switch to HDMI 2 on [Roku/Apple TV etc].”
The different Chromecast models
Right now, Google offers two different models of their Chromecast device. The Chromecast 3rd Generation, which is the cheaper base-model and costs around $39. And the Chromecast Ultra, which has more functionality for a higher price of $69.
Chromecast 3rd Gen
The main disadvantage of the cheaper Chromecast 3rd Gen is the fact that you can only stream video in Full HD 1080p resolution and not in 4K and it does not display HDR. Even if you have 4K and HDR content and a 4K TV, it will only display the footage in 1080p resolution.
The Google Chromecast Ultra can stream all 4K content and is HDR capable as well. Besides that it als has an Etherent port, which allows you to connect your internet directly through a wired connection instead of WIFI. This is something we would highly recommend, because especially with 4K the bitrates are very high and a wireless connection might not be reliable and fast enough.