16 months ago (or so) I tried to purchase a Chromecast whilst on holiday in the Hawaii. But the island of Oahu was sold out, pretty much as was the case throughout the United States. Granted, during the intervening months I could have ordered one using YouPost or bought on TradeMe or eBay but I wasn't inclined to pay premium for something that I had no pressing need for. I was excited, therefore when it "officially" came to NZ a few weeks ago.

Now I have hands on one, I find it to be somewhat fussy compared to the other wireless audiovisual equipment in my kit. Granted the AppleTV requires particular versions of iOS or OSX for mirroring and iTunes for PCs to stream; and the Netgear Push2TV requires Miracast or Widi capable hardware but the Chromecast setup took a couple of goes for me and you need apps and browser plugins to make it work. It's most equivalent gadget in my pre-existing library is the iPush.

All that aside, and still with more playing - ahem, I mean testing - to do, I have already decided that it has a purpose and a place in my life.

One of the many frustrating things for me with Miracast and Airplay is the need for specific hardware. After eighteen months, my HTC One M7 is still the only Miracast capable device I have and I have no Widi devices at all. Which means that if I want to use any of my Windows devices on the TV that's not really an option with my wireless AV receivers.

So the first thing I tried when I unboxed the Chromecast was to see whether for non-OS mirroring purposes it could be a workable method for using a computer on the TV. The test? Logging into our SkyGo account and playing an episode of Madam Secretary.

Success!! So long as you use Chrome and have the add-in installed, SkyGo works with reasonably high quality audio and video.

There were a few gotchas: the Telecom - yeah, yeah, I know they rebranded to Spark - router we were sent as part of our broadband package has AP isolation that I can't turn off. Replacing the router is a holiday job so I had to switch to using a mifi for the test. The result was sluggish and glitchy. I can't 100% say this is a great solution until I've tried it on a dual-band router connected to a high-speed connection but I suspect the lag would be negligible if my network was configured correctly.

It's definitely not using Miracast standards: although it has direct wifi and uses a Bluetooth style handshake during setup. It's more like AirPlay direct setup than Miracast. And once it's running it has the same requirements as the old AirPlay in terms of relaxed network configuration.

At $59NZD (less through some other retailers) it's not bad. I still prefer Miracast and AirPlay because they give full mirroring but this works pretty well and there's a client for most of my kit. If your requirements are the web browsing and entertainment sort it's a great solution for that.

If you're wanting to use a big screen wirelessly with all features and apps on the computer then ensure that your next desktop or laptop PC is Miracast or Widi capable - as I will be - or a Mac and check out the other articles on the blog and YouTube channel for Miracast and Airplay how-tos.
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