Use CheapCast to turn your Android tablet into a Chromecast

Got an old Android tablet lying around? Here's how to repurpose it as a Chromecast receiver -- no dongle required.

When the Chromecast app detects CheapCast running on another Android device, it'll treat it just like a Chromecast dongle.
When the Chromecast app detects CheapCast running on another Android device, it'll treat it just like a Chromecast dongle. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Google's Chromecast dongle turns your HDTV into a smart TV, able to stream audio and video from the likes of Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play (with more content providers to come).

The free CheapCast app (not made by Google) enables nearly any Android device to function as a Chromecast, effectively playing the role of the TV as you stream media from your other Android device.

Why would you want to do this? Well, if you have an Android tablet with an HDMI output, you could plug it into your HDTV, then use your smartphone to drive it. Voila: free Chromecast.

I've been test-driving this interesting setup with a Verizon Galaxy S4 and a rooted Barnes & Noble Nook HD, and for the most part it's been working perfectly. Here's how to set it up on your end.

Install CheapCast on your tablet. Run the app, then tap Start Service.

This video originated on a Galaxy S4 but ended up playing on a CheapCast-enabled Nook HD tablet.
This video originated on a Galaxy S4 but ended up playing on a CheapCast-enabled Nook HD tablet. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Install and run Chromecast on your other Android device. It should scan for, and detect, your CheapCast "device."

Now run any of the three apps that are currently Chromecast-compatible: Google Play (Music or Movies & TV), Netflix, and YouTube. Once you start playing a video, you should see the Chromecast icon in an upper toolbar. Tap it, then choose CheapCast.

That's it! Now you've got yourself a poor man's Chromecast. The developer notes that the app is an early beta, so don't be surprised if you run into some glitches along the way.

Can you think of any other good uses for CheapCast, keeping in mind that both devices must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network? Or do you think it's a pointless exercise given that the tablet can already run those same apps? Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

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