Google Cast has become a fairly popular way to play –- or “cast” –- video content from mobile devices and computers to TVs wirelessly. After all, it enables users to watch the same content on a big-screen TV that they start viewing on a tiny smartphone screen.
Cast takes the Google Cast concept a couple of steps further, incorporating social media functionality. The new community viewing hub seamlessly connects all the devices in one’s home into one wireless video system, according to its Kickstarter campaign. The standout feature is that it allows users to live stream entertainment that they are watching on their TVs to family and friends via an app for Android and iOS smartphones or tablets, making it kind of like a reverse version of Google Cast. Therefore, if the Cast owner is streaming a movie on a TV via a Netflix account, that person could use Cast to mirror the movie on a friend’s smartphone or tablet even if that friend doesn’t have a Netflix account. That’s in theory anyway because Netflix and other service providers may raise legal objections.
Cast will ship in September 2016 at $299 — barring any delays caused by legal or other issues — although early bird backers can get one via pledges that start at $99. Its makers are out to raise $50,000 by Jan. 9.
Cast starts with an appealing premise that’s likely to attract many consumers. But there are several questions that the campaign doesn’t answer. In addition to the obvious legal ones, there are few technical specifications provided, including what video resolution is supported, the compression rate of that video, and how fast Cast’s graphics engine is exactly. On the latter front, the campaign says only that the engine is “lightning-fast” and capable of receiving, mixing and streaming multiple multimedia sources (video, sound, photos, etc.) to several devices at the same time, with no lag. Users also can’t input TV cable or satellite receiver content directly to Cast, although if the cable or satellite content is available through a browser or an API then it will be accessible to Cast display and sharing, according to the campaign. Another potential drawback is that it’s only compatible with mobile devices running iOS 8 or later and Android 4.4 or later.