Google helps simplify your online life—from email and online storage to news and digital maps. But it can also take over your TV with its Chromecast, a streaming dongle that got a colorful makeover in 2015 and a 4K “Ultra” upgrade in 2016.
The Chromecast Ultra will set you back $69, but it’s really for those who have a 4K TV; be sure to check out the differences between the two devices before picking one up.
Whichever one you choose, part of the Chromecast’s appeal lies in its pure portability, but there’s also the price: just $35 to wirelessly stream Netflix, Spotify, HBO, Hulu, and more from your mobile device or PC to the TV. Not to mention apps for music, working out, and catching up on sports. When the Chromecast was released in July 2013, it quickly sold out, and is still going strong. Sales have now topped 55 million.
Watching someone experience virtual reality is amusing…for a few minutes. When you can also see what the person wearing the goggles sees, though, it’s better for everyone. With Google’s $99 Daydream Viewheadset and a Chromecast, you can send what’s on the headset to a television.
Just make sure the phone you have in the Daydream and the Chromecast are on the same Wi-Fi network and that you have the Google Home app (Android, iOS) installed. Open Google Home, select Cast, and then choose the Chromecast device to which you want to send the VR images. Put the phone into the headset and everyone can see what you’re up to, virtually.
If you have a Gear VR, you can do the same thing. Make sure you have the latest version of the Oculus app and get your Gear going, hit the Cast button, and select the device on which you want to view your VR journey.
There’s plenty of great content on Facebook Live that would benefit from being on the big screen (like, ahem, PCMag’s 1 Cool Thing). To send a Facebook Live broadcast to a TV, make sure the device you’re casting from and the TV are on the same Wi-Fi network. Then open a Facebook Live broadcast and hit the Cast icon that appears on the screen.
3.Pretty as a Picture
Use your own photos—or choose from Google’s selection of beautiful art, landscape photography, and satellite images—to switch up your Chromecast background. In the Google Home app, go to the Devices tab and select the Chromecast you want to customize. In the top-right corner, tap the hamburger menu and select Backdrop Settings. There, you can pick a photo from Google Photos, Facebook albums, or Flickr, or opt to display news, weather, art, or satellite images.