Google today launched the Chromecast HDMI dongle, a cut-price add-on for any TV with an HDMI input that brings music and video streaming from phones and tablets.
Google Chromecast works with Android and Apple iOS devices, allowing you to stream from the latest Android tablets and smartphones as well as the iPhone and iPad. Like Apple TV + AirPlay + iTunes combination, the Chromecast dongle also allows you to stream from the free Chrome browser on any laptop or computer.
Launching in the US for $35, the dongle works over WiFi and allows you to stream any content from within the Chrome web browser on a portable device, including music, movies and pictures.
The dongle is also compatible with the Netflix and YouTube apps, plus any content from the Google Play store.
Connecting via HDMI, the dongle looks like it will take power by connecting via the other end to a USB input. Google hasn't 100% confirmed this as yet.
Once connected and streaming, your tablet or phone will work as a remote control for your content.
The Google Chromecast dongle looks like the deathknell for Google TV, so it will be interesting to see to what extent Google pushes the latest Google TV boxes, such as the Sony NSZ-GS8.
Google Chromecast vs. Apple TV
Naturally compared to the more expensive Apple TV box, which allows you to access content from the Apple iTunes store and stream directly to the box from iOS devices, one key difference is that the Google Chromecast dongle doesn't support streaming of your own content at launch.
Apple TV allows for 'mirroring' of any content on your phone or tablet, including your own videos and images, to any connected TV. It does however only work with Apple phones and tablets, or via iTunes on a computer.
Sadly, the Google Chromecast is not yet available in the UK, with no word on a UK price or release date - despite going on sale (pre-order) today in the US for $35.
The Chromecast in fact sold out via Amazon and Google Play in the US, though it's due to go on sale in all Best Buy stores in America this Sunday.
Google originally offered 3 months free Netflix for anyone who buys a dongle, but the day after launch cited "overwhelming demand" and withdrew the offer, according to a statement to the LA Times. We will keep our eyes peeled for news of a UK release.
The Chromecast was launched at a Google event which also saw confirmation of a new Nexus 7 tablet.
Would you be interested in a cut-price, Chrome-toting streaming dongle from Google? Let us know in the comments below.
HANDS ON: Google Chromecast review
by Joe Cox