The Chromecast is a device that people both love and hate. The haters hate because it doesn’t do everything it can and everything they wants it to do (really, probably more because Google has restricted tinkering) and those that love the Chromecast does so because it fulfills their needs. I kind of fall into both categories in one way or another but in general, I think the Chromecast is a great device and it does what I thought it would do when I bought it.
One of those things is watching movies. In the six months or so that I’ve had my Chromecast, I have used it extensively for YouTube, Netflix, Google Music and Pandora. Renting or buying movies not so much. DirecTV pay-per-view was more convenient, not to mention that my Internet connection has always been a little unreliable for high quality streaming.
However, recently (after upgrading my Internet connection), an opportunity presented itself to give renting a movie through Google Play a shot.
The movie we decided on was Red 2. If you’ve seen it (or the first one), you know it’s about a bunch of ‘retired’ spies that get into all kinds of trouble. I liked it. Of course, this is not a movie review, it’s a review of the medium used to watch the movie.
As far as “operating” the movie, it’s as easy as using a remote control. You click the movie, select your payment method after you click “buy now” and then click “play”. Easy. Pausing and resuming throughout the movie was also easy. During pause, the remaining play time of the move is displayed, which is a neat feature. I’m not sure there’s a whole lot more to say about the controls.
The big question is of course: did it look good?
Mostly. I decided to stream the HD version and after the first few minutes when it seemed like the stream was trying to figure out when to switch from a little worse than DVD quality to HD, it was mostly ok. On a few occasions, the picture quality did degrade back from sub-DVD quality but it wasn’t often enough to put a damper on the viewing experience. This does fall in line with how streaming using Netflix, Vudu and Hulu also seem to behave around here so it doesn’t surprise me to see it happen. The one thing that never did happen was any buffering and that I’m thankful for. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone about to do something exciting only to see the picture freeze for ten seconds.
Overall I would say that streaming through the Chromecast is simple and user friendly and the experience is similar to other services. Considering that it’s a buck cheaper than DirecTV (usually), I can definitely see myself doing this again in the future. It is, after all, very convenient and exactly the thing I got the Chromecast for in the first place.