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Chromecast: Did Google Just Win the Connected TV Battle?

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Simple is always best when it comes to consumer technology, but who knew the answer to conquering the connected TV space was this simple?

Yesterday, Google announced Chromecast, a $35 two-inch HDMI device that plugs into any set an allows the user to stream content from a Wi-Fi network. Rather that come with a remote, it makes Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, as well as Mac and Windows notebooks and desktops running the Chrome browser into remotes. It's as far from a Google TV set-top box as it could get, and it even makes the Roku Streaming Stick look big.

The move confirms that Google has taken Apple's place as the company that can make one announcement and change an industry overnight. It also shows that Google can keep a secret, something Apple used to be able to do. No one saw this coming.

While simple, the Chromecast is inexpensive enough to be an impulse buy and it delivers all the functionality most people will need. For now, it lets users stream from YouTube, Netflix, Google Play, and the Chrome browser. Expect that to expand quickly as services rush to build in Chromecast support. The HDMI dongle streams content from the web directly, leaving the user's mobile device or computer free to do other things.

The early world on Chromecast is strong from people who have done hands-on testing. For consumers looking for an easy way to stream online content to their TV, this is a good move. For TV makers and others looking to monetize the connected TV market, not so much.

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