I just love electronic gadgets. Because I am not loyal to any particular brand or platform, I have an eclectic collection of electronic doodads that I enjoy playing with.
My latest gadget, Google’s Chromecast, finally arrived last weekend.
I ordered it weeks ago, but the device sold out almost as soon as it hit the market — and mine had to be back-ordered. I wanted to be the first in my neighborhood to have one, but a few of my neighbors beat me to the punch.
The Chromecast is a dongle (and yes, it is now appropriate to say “dongle” in mixed company). It is small — about 2 inches by 1.5 inches — and plugs right into the high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port on my television set.
It took me a few minutes to get the Chromecast dongle out of the box, and about two minutes to get it set up and running.
They make it pretty easy. Plug it in and download an app that asks for a Wi-Fi name and password. Even a real estate agent can do it without a free webinar or class.
My Chromecast is connected to the household Wi-Fi, and is hooked up to the television in my office. I can stream Netflix or YouTube from any mobile device or computer onto the TV.
I have tested it with my iPad and with a couple of Android phones. I can stream from my Chrome browser, too. It also works with Google Play, which is a source of movies and television shows for Android phones and tablets.
Chromecast does not play well with TV or movies on Amazon. I can play TV shows from Amazon through my browser, but they don’t work in full-screen mode. They look much better on an iPad or on a computer.
Over the weekend I used Chromecast to stream some software tutorials from YouTube to my television while I was using the software on my computer. I used my phone to stream the video. The videos can be streamed from a mobile device or from any tab on the Chrome browser.
It did not take me long to discover that I can put content from my browser on the TV, and then open another tab on the browser and do something else.
Chromecast is not to be confused with Apple TV. I have one of those, too. They cost $100. While Chromecast costs $35, it does not work as well with my assorted Apple products. I can stream anything from the screen on my iPad or computer onto the TV that I have hooked up to Apple TV.
I was disappointed to find that Apple TV doesn’t work with the Chrome browser on my phone and hope that one day it will.
In a real estate office, Chromecast could be used to stream video onto the big screen for office meetings and presentations. It works with SlideShare and is great for hands-on demonstrations through a Web browser.
It has a lot of practical uses for streaming content onto large-screen televisions from small laptops or smartphones in conference rooms or classrooms.
As soon as they are available again, I’ll purchase another Chromecast for the television in the guest room. It won’t get used more than a few times a year, but will be appreciated by younger family members who use their phones for everything including entertainment. The Chromecast can also stream music.
Currently there are only two third-party apps that work with Chromecast — Netflix and YouTube — but the device is pretty new. Hulu and HBO are working on apps, and others are likely to follow.
I don’t think my Chromecast will revolutionize the real estate industry, or my business. It certainly isn’t just for Realtors, but I would buy one again. I suspect that as time goes on, I will find more uses for it, and more apps will be made that work with Chromecast.
But Google has a way of abandoning products, so I am not going to get too attached to my new toy.
For now, mine will be used for watching YouTube tutorials, an occasional movie, and for sharing what is on my computer screen with people who visit my office. The MLS looks just fine on it, too.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.