Chromecast TV dongle

Our friends at Vivante got a Chromecast for us (their GC 1000 graphics core is inside the Marvell DE3005-A1 SoC), and we gave it a go. Chromecast is a $35 HDMI dongle that plugs into a TV or monitor. It’s a good thing we got this when we did; they’re flying off the shelves, and Amazon has back-ordered the things. FLYING OFF SHELVES: Chromecast is remote-free and works with devices you already own such as tablets and smartphones. Source: Google

We plugged it into a not-smart HDTV, and the TV never saw it. We thought we had a dud and called Vivante. Prateek Pujara, who has tested several of the units, suggested we plug it into a monitor, so we did.

OK, here’s the (usual) weirdness. We plugged it into our Sony 3D HD PS398078 monitor, a beautiful 2010 24-inch monitor for the PS3, which sadly is no longer available—it worked fine, and we paired it up to the network.

Then we tried it on two HDTVs, a one-year-old 35-inch LG and a six-month-old 60-inch Visio smart TV. It didn’t work with either. We tried it in HDMI ports that we know (and saw) working. My first suspicion was



the older HDTV didn’t have the latest ver¬sion of HDMI, but the Visio certainly does.

To use the device you go to an Internet-connected device, like a phone, tablet, or Chromebook, open up a web page with a video, and if it’s linkable, there’s a little icon at the upper right of the browser.

Using the Sony display that had no trouble with the Chromecast, we went to YouTube and selected HD, and then tried to cast a video. We got the message shown in the photo above:

Obviously, there are some bandwidth issues Google is going to have to deal with in the emerging era of 4K. For now, if you want to use Chromecast, you’re relegated to SD.

The literature says Google supports apps from Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies, and Google Play Music. We went to Netflix to see if we could play an HD movie or a TV show. We used Chrome as the browser on a PC and downloaded a movie, but we could not find a Chromecast icon on the Netflix page or video window. So we down¬loaded the latest Chrome browser and the icon appeared. Back to Netflix and we grabbed an episode of Fringe, only to see that it was not supported; it was in HD, and only 720 HD at that.

SHARING TV: Casting videos from a Chromebook to a Sony monitor.


We searched for some non-HD content, found The African Queen, and tried to cast that. It took it, and then 2 minutes in to the titles it crashed. We re-booted Chrome and gave it another go; this time it worked, and we found a (little blue) Chromecast icon in the play bar.

We’re willing to give Chrome, Google, and Chromecast the benefit of the doubt and say any hiccups we encountered were due to our network; we have pretty high workload here.

Also, it is the early days, and Google is obviously still in the curation mode with the video library. That means this is not a truly procedural process and the content requires analysis. Given that situation, it would be nice if you could see on the library icons if a film or TV show had been curated or not. As it is now, you have to download it and get it running before you can find out.

What do we think?

Early days, early adopters, you get what you pay for. We’ve sent the device back and it’s being tested. We’re hoping we got a bad one because otherwise that might mean we’re dopes. We did get it to work on one display, and the movie play was good. Playing music is another great use case. It will be a neat thing to carry in your travel kit, paired to your laptop’s Wi-Fi hotspot (e.g., Connec¬tify). Then when in a hotel room you can plug in your Chromecast to the TV and cast to it from your laptop. We’ll try that on the next trip.