Hulu finally kicked out an official mobile app for Chromecast. Yay! Google’s $35 HDMI streaming dongle is a massive success. In truth this was cemented long before the majority of adopters even got a chance to validate the performance. That’s what happens when preorder sales deplete stock before devices can official fly off said shelves. When it was announced the unit sold out on Amazon, Google Play store and Best Buy. It’s more readily available now, but no less of a head-turner.
Chromecast is still the cheapest way to stream high definition content from your mobile device, PC or laptop to your HDMi-ready television. Unfortunately Chromecast requires a little assistance in some areas. Netflix, Google Play, YouTube and now Hulu all have crafted supporting application that allow users to stream/cast their favorite movies and music found on those services, from mobile devices to an HDMI TV with the Chromecast unit plugged in. Yet watching content not found on those services leaves a massive swell of media not supported by Chromecast–well at least not officially. With very little digging users can do much more than the marketing copy eludes. Check it out!
1. Hulu & More Without the New App
Firstly, you need the Google Chrome web browser. Chrome offers a free downloadable extension. With the extension you can cast any individual tab you have open in your Chrome Browser over to the Chromecast. You can even cast to multiple Chromecast devices in your house. You will simply need a tab open for each cast or stream sent to each Chromecast. Using this function you can Stream Hulu, Animal Planet, History Channel and any other media content site that will play videos or audio in the Chrome browser and does not use Silverlight or Quicktime.
2. Cast Your Entire Desktop
You can cast your entire desktop as well. Simply click the arrow found when you click the Chromecast “casting” icon in the upper right hand of your Google Chrome browser. Then select “Cast entire screen (experimental)”. I’ve heard reports of crashing and losing the signal. But we’ve experienced none of that here. However, it’s not idel for watching videos and movies. Sure you can toss a video in VLC or Windows Media Player or Daum’s PotPlayer and have it cast to the Chromecast plugged into your television. But you will not hear audio. It’s more suited for sharing your desktop with a larger group of folks at work, parties etc… Or you can use a set of Bluetooth speakers for remotely playing audio.
3. Play Local Media from Your Hard Drive
Chrome is needed for this one as well. Like most browsers Chrome works as a media player for some file extensions. I have seen success with .FLV, .MKV (some) and .WMV video files. To get this little gem of a hack to work, just drag and drop your media files in a tab on Chrome and select the cast option from your Chrome browser. Alternatively you can type C:\\ in the URL field–or whatever letter corresponds to the drive you would like to navigate to and browse. I have had no luck with Mpeg-4 and .AVI files. Let’s hope this is fixed soon. But ideally something more official will be put in place to support local content from a hard drive.
4. Change Quality of Casted Stream
I thought this was obvious but a friend then mentioned his issues with the quality of a given stream when using the Chromecast. I asked if he had lowered the quality of the casted Stream? He intelligently inquired, “Ah whaaa?!” It’s true. Some media files are massive in file size. You will experience more issues the larger the file size. So… Click the Cast icon on your Chrome browser. Click Options and from there you can select Auto-resizing, Fullscreen zoom options and Tab projection quality. You can choose from Standard 480p, High 720p and Extreme 720p with a higher bitrate.
5. Mutlitasking + Fullscreen
Multitasking while casting from the mobile version of Chromecast is an easy endeavor. Just simply switch to another app and your media stream will go unhindered. But when casting from a laptop or desktop computer things are quite so simple. When you go fullscreen, however, you can Alt+Tab to bring up the desktop or any other running programs. Select which you would like to use while casting continues in the background. Or choose to go to the desktop and operate your computer the way you normally would.
6. Chromescast Audio Extraction
With a cheap audio extractor or a much more expensive AV receiver, you can sepearate the audio and video streams to pump your favorite audio directly into sound system. Some have had great success while others have found the performance hit or miss depending on files and equipment.
7. Share Casting
You can share music and video with your buddies using the Chromecast. I have not tried this one first hand. But Plex users can use the free Web server to stream their movies and music from a desktop or laptop and shoot over to mobile devices, cable boxes and the like. You will have to allow others to access your files over the Web. Access can be limited or full blown and is an inherent feature of Plex. From there its as simple as casting the tab to your HDMI-enabled TV with a Chromecast installed. The content plays over Chrome and works just like Hulu, HBO, Animal Planet and any other media that plays in a Chrome tab and does not require Quicktime or Silverlight.
Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for GameRevolution.com. More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.