New toy: Chromecast
When we bought our TV a couple years back it came with a Chromecast Ultra, which we used briefly for watching some 4K videos on YouTube and then promptly forgot about it… the experience with Chromecasts isn’t great, and running Plex on the PlayStation 4 just worked better (and the lack of 4K really didn’t bother us at all).
Fast forward to now, and the experience with Plex on the PS4 has steadily gotten worse. The application is slow, frequently fails to connect, and often fails to play certain videos and we’ve no idea why. Restarting the Plex server seems to help, but I’m not sure why.
I’ve been meaning to look at replacing it with a Raspberry Pi for some time, but really couldn’t be bothered working it out. We need not only the Plex application, but also the clients for things like Netflix and so on to work as well. The Nvidia Shield looked really great, but also extremely expensive here (around $300AUD for the one I want!). When the discussion came up on a local chatroom, someone mentioned the fancy new Chromecasts.
“Bah!” I thought, “we have a perfectly good Chromecast and it’s shit. Why would I buy another one?” Turns out the new Chromecast isn’t the same thing, it’s a full Android TV device that they’re calling GoogleTV now. How long until Google kills this one off? Who knows.
At first I was skeptical - the voice assistant shit gives me the creeps, and we turn that off everywhere we can. We’ve no interest in things like Nest or the Google Home assistant stuff, does the device still work? Looking at reviews, it seemed so, and we decided that $99AUD wasn’t that much to waste on an experiment.
After some brief trouble setting it up (having to type my stupid-long WiFi password in by hand because it didn’t pick it up from my phone), we were off and running, and it mostly does what we want. The remote doesn’t support IR control of our TV, and the HDMI-CEC is only sort-of supported. So we’re stuck with setting the volume to 50 on the TV, and setting the volume control of the Chromecast to control it’s internal volume rather than the TV’s volume. It turns the power on/off fine though, so for the most part we only need a single remote unless we want to play a PlayStation game or something…. we can live with that.
There’s no built-in ethernet on this, which I didn’t realize at first… the power supply with the ethernet adaptor built-in is sold separately, so we’ll probably pick one of those up, but for now WiFi is working acceptably.
Watching Plex and Netflix, and then the season finale of The Boys on Prime last night it didn’t skip a beat at all though.