I will likely never be a cord-cutter. My obsession with television is borderline compulsive– as evidence by the fact that I get significantly more retweets and stars on Twitter for my TV-related posts than I’d ever see on anything related to digital marketing.
Working in paid search often has perks, and recently, one of those is that Google decided to send me over one of their Chromecast units, just because. So, of course, I was excited to give it a whirl.
Surprisingly, I found the setup to be quite unfriendly— now, some of that, I was told by Google Support, was due to my AT&T Uverse internet service (which combines the Internet & wireless routers into one box); but, even that I found to be a rather poor excuse for my trouble. I have a newer 55″ Sony Bravia, and a brand-new Macbook Air (courtesy of my work), so certainly, neither of those could be blamed for setup issues. The Google Chromecast app would recognize that the unit was there, but simply would not connect.
After calling Google Support, I was supposed to receive an email with connection instructions– one that I am still waiting for, BTW. Even searching through Google’s support forums, which I usually find helpful, resulted in no answer. So, being stubborn & persistent, I tried the setup with my iPhone instead– and, VIOLA! Success. It’s a WiFi connection issue which prevented laptop setup, it seems. (If you’re having the same issue with your Chromecast, try setting it up initially through your smartphone or tablet instead…once setup is complete, it should work from your laptop, as well. If you still need help, check out this post.)
Hours later, and rather frustrated, I gave the Chromecast a test spin– first, from my iPhone. The HBO Go app, which has always been a notch above other streaming services IMO, synced perfectly, and sounded great through my Samsung SoundBar. Same with YouTube (though, as you probably know, the sound quality on those videos varies).
However, my biggest complaints about Google Chromecast came when I tested the service out on my Macbook. After installing the browser plug-in for Chrome, I hopped over to Showtime Anytime, as I was hoping to begin watching Shameless and Homeland (given that I just recently subscribed to the network). Unfortunately, Showtime utilizes a third-party browser plug-in to stream their video content– one that does not play nice with Chromecast. Not only would it not work, but it froze my browser every time I even attempted it.
Now, this isn’t necessarily Google’s fault at all– but, it highlights a practical use of mine that cannot be realized. The Showtime app for iOS also is not yet integrated with Chromecast, so therefore, hooking up my Mac to my television directly (as I did in the past to catch up on The Wire and Oz) is really my only option.
And, therein lies my beef with Google Chromecast; it simply cannot do the things I want it to (yet). Even if Showtime did work correctly with the device, I would still need a subscription to the service (or, a friend with one) to watch these shows. And that’s just one channel– that doesn’t cover AMC or Fox or FX or TNT or USA or any one of the dozen-plus other networks I view on a regular basis.
My point is not that Google Chromecast is useless– it just isn’t the device that’s going to convince me it’s time to cut the cord on cable services. Perhaps, given my affinity for the small screen, that device will actually never exist. For their part, Google continues to add new services on a regular basis, and it is likely that the product will further attract even more offerings as the audience demand widens. As for me, however, I shall remain connected to the cord– now, and just maybe, for a long time to come.
Update: while I’m still connected to the cord; yes, I have found a use for it after all