Chromecast dongle
The Chromecast dongle plugs into an HDMI port on the TV

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| There have been times when I have wanted to show something from my laptop on my TV. For instance, showing a web page to a group of people.

In the past, there have been two ways to accomplish this:

my 24-foot long HDMI patch cable
My 18-foot HDMI patch cable

I just bought a Google Chromecast that wirelessly displays a copy of whatever is in your Chrome browser on the TV. How cool is that?!

There are a couple of caveats:

First, it has to be a Chrome browser, in which you have installed the Google Cast app. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc. do not work.

Second, you need a strong wi-fi signal in the area where the TV is located.

The packaging for Chromecast is elaborately simple. It's in a little square white cardboard box — not industrial strength plastic needing the jaws of life to open — with a single seal. When you open it, you see the dongle on one side and the 3-step instructions on the other.

Chromecast packaging​
A USB power adapter, USB power cord, and an HDMI extension cord are under the dongle
TV connections on the back are hard to work with
Mare's nest of cables in a very cramped space

​As usual with these things, the hardest part was figuring out which of the multiple ports on the back of the TV was which and then getting hands, dongle, and cables into that little space between the TV and the wall to do the connecting.

Thankfully Google provided a short HDMI extension cord because the dongle would not fit in the space allotted for an HDMI cable connector. The TV also has a USB port, so I could use that for powering the Chromecast dongle without another unsightly extension cord and the adapter.

The actual setup occurs when you go to google.com/chromecast/setup. The app looks for Chromecast on the local network and then adds the device to your wi-fi configuration. It even queries your router to find out the wi-fi password so you don't even have to type it it. It took just a couple of minutes, largely because my laptop was in the office and the TV was in the living room and all that walking back and forth was time consuming.

Casting is very simple: display something in the browser then click the Google Cast button. Voilà! Image and sound are sent to the TV.

chromecasting​
The browser tab is displayed full-screen on the TV

You can display anything that can be displayed in the browser: web pages, videos, music, TV shows, whatever. The two major factors affecting the "cast" are quality of the media (a blurry YouTube video is still going to be blurry) and wi-fi and internet speed. 

Supposedly the Chromecast can be controlled not only from a laptop but an Android, iOS, or Windows device as well. Since I don't have any of those things, I can't say anything further. Linux is not supported, but I did find several posts that describe how it can be made to work with Ubuntu linux.

The back story

I've been fretting over the fact that my introductory DirecTV rate is soon going to end, and suffering over the thought of paying a lot of money for the absolute dreck that is available. I have hundreds of channels, but most of them are second-rate movies that I don't want to watch, shopping shows, religion shows, or infomercials. I've been thinking of dropping the service and upgrading my internet speed, if only I could watch a few selected shows on my computer but displayed on my TV.

By Jove, I may have got it!

 

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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