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Christmas Gift Guide

Google's Chromecast is an HDMI dongle

People like streams

YouTube streaming and more

More than just a stick

Tiny but powerful

Simple setup

Netflix streaming

Smartphone control

Smartphone view

Multiple screens

Music support

Browser integration

Chrome browser broadcasting

Hands on: Tablet control

Hands on: Device connected

Hands on: 'Just missed'

Hands on: Music streaming

Hands on: Music streaming

Hands on: Music streaming

Designed to plug into the back of any TV with an HDMI port, the Chromecast dongle is intended to provide easy access to streaming video. It's available for just $35 starting today in the U.S., with availability in other countries to follow.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
In introducing Chromecast, Google reiterated the popularity of online streaming video. Almost 50 percent of such video comes from Netflix and YouTube.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
The compact 2-inch device will work with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Music at launch, with support for future services, such as Pandora, coming soon.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price

As sleek as the Chromecast device looks, Google's initial presentation skimmed over some of the rougher edges. The specs in the Google Play store list both a USB power cable and a power adapter, which indicate that the Chromecast will have some wires hanging off it -- it's not truly "just a stick." It's the same method PLAiR used to power its similar HDMI-based streaming stick.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
In addition to HDMI, the hardware itself supports 2.4GHz WiFi 802.11, which isn't quite as nice as the dual-band Wi-Fi offered on Roku's Streaming Stick. The internal processor is capable of playing back full 1080p video with 5.1 surround sound.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Google stressed the simplicity of getting Chromecast connected, a marked difference from its complex Google TV effort.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Netflix: handled.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
The Chromecast is designed to be controlled from any smartphone, tablet, or PC running the Chrome browser.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
If you have more than one Chromecast in the home, you can push video to any TV.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Chromecast also works with Google Music at launch, with Pandora support coming soon.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Here's how it works from the YouTube Web site.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
The dongle can also show Web pages on a TV.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
CNET's editors got some hands-on time with Chromecast on a tablet.
Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Here the tablet shows a Google Play Movies feature: a card that will pop up with more details when you're looking at a movie.
Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Here's a look at Google Play Music streaming to a TV...
Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
...from the tablet...
Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price

...to the big screen.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
$49.00 Typical Price
Updated:
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