Much like the Chromecast, Android TV devices such as the Nexus Player and Nvidia Shield TV have always had those beautiful background images as their default screensaver. However, unlike the Chromecast, these "Backdrop" images, as they're called, weren't always customizable on Android TV.
Even though the 88th Academy Awards have come and gone, there's a good chance you still haven't seen all the films that were nominated—or even those that won big.
Android TV devices have had those beautiful Chromecast background images as their screensaver for quite a while now. Envious of this feature, Apple copied the idea for a similarly-styled screensaver in their newest Apple TV, but with one big twist—they used videos instead of still photos.
The Google Cast feature that serves as the primary interface for the Chromecast and comes bundled with Android TV devices like the Nexus Player is a marvel of modern technology. But as these things go, troubleshooting issues can be difficult with something so groundbreaking, especially when you consider that there are two parts to the equation—the casting device (your phone, tablet, or computer) and the receiver.
Cord cutters are changing everything about TV—the more of us that sever ties with cable, the more changes we start to see. In fact, viewing habits have already changed so drastically that waiting a week to see the next episode in a series is no longer acceptable, as binge watching has completely eclipsed this old-fashioned format.
Previously, you'd need to install the Google Cast extension to cast webpages from your Chrome web browser to your Chromecast-connected TV, but as of March 24th, you don't need it anymore. Casting now works natively in Google Chrome (which had been available in the Beta version for a few months), and you can activate the hidden feature right now.
The biggest problem with Netflix (which is hardly a real problem) is the overwhelming amount of content available for streaming. Browsing through profile-specific categories might help narrow down your search on something to watch, but some of those categories come and go without warning, and it's impossible to find them again—but not anymore.
I loved the original Star Wars trilogy when I was a kid, but loathe all of the current DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming versions available today. Ever since 1997, every version of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi has had horrendous CGI effects added in that George Lucas deemed necessary to bring his "ideal" version to life.
To help keep sleepy binge-watchers from sleep-"watching," Netflix asks if you're still watching after a semi-short period of time. This means that it could be anywhere from 1 to 5 episodes that you slept through, which is better than 2 seasons, I guess—but it doesn't make it any easier to find out where you left off.
The Fire TV Stick, as well as the Fire TV, may be limited by Amazon's fight on piracy, but after a quick sideloading of Kodi, the floodgates are back open with the freedom to stream just about any video or song you want.
Amazon thinks that by simply removing an app from their Appstore, that they will stop users from accessing it. But with Android OS powering their Fire TV Stick and Fire TV, there really isn't anything they can do to prevent us from sideloading an APK onto the streaming media devices.
If you're a U.S. expat living, traveling, or studying abroad, or just someone who typically uses virtual private networks (VPNs) in order to access the North American video libraries of services like Hulu or Netflix, you were probably surprised to see that these video streaming services don't work on your Chromecast or Chromecast 2.
For a lot of would-be cord cutters, the lack of streaming local sports is the only hurdle that needs to be cleared before they can sever all ties with big cable. This is why it was a huge victory for us anti-cable folks when Yahoo announced that they would be hosting the first ever live-streaming NFL game this Sunday at 9:30 AM Eastern.
It's a breeze to send videos and music from your phone straight to your TV with an Apple TV or Chromecast, but these devices don't support all file types. While MP4 videos and MP3 music files are the norm these days, I still have a ton of AVI and FLV files that I'd like to watch on a big screen.
Google's Chromecast has been out for almost two years, and I can safely say it has changed the way I use my TV. At first it was a hassle to even get local media to play on it, but now casting has branched out to torrent streaming, which was a real game changer. Unfortunately, most apps only let you stream one video or song at a time, or you can't add magnet links or torrents to a playlist of local content.
Google's Chromecast is quite literally one of my favorite inventions of the past five years, allowing me to kick back, relax, and enjoy the various forms of streaming entertainment it has up for grabs.
It's no secret that we love the Chromecast. From watching movies to playing games to giving presentations, this little $35 dongle definitely packs a punch. But unless you have a strong, solid Wi-Fi connection in the 2.4 GHz range, this little device has been out of reach to you. Well, until now.
Chromecast is so small and portable that it would seem to be a perfect device for making PowerPoint presentations. But even now that you can mirror your Android device's display, there are still a few issues.
With our internet-connected devices growing in number by the year, it would be nice if they could somehow all be interconnected. This is becoming commonplace for our tablets, smartphones, and laptops, but our media streaming boxes still seem to be isolated in their own little worlds.
Since the Nexus Player is an Android device at heart, there are already several internet browsers that can be used on the streaming set-top box. Chrome, Firefox, and a few others will run perfectly fine, but the trouble with these is that you need a mouse to use them.
Reddit is one of the internet's greatest sources of funny and interesting videos. Its user base is extremely active, and a system of upvotes and downvotes ensures that the best content always rises to the top.
Netflix was my proverbial gateway drug to cord-cutting, as I'm sure it was for many others. Yet as much as I truly love Netflix and its service, there are some annoyances I have with the interface of the desktop web version.
If you were around when the Nintendo Wii first launched, you remember how revolutionary the device was at the time. When I first encountered one, I was amazed at the simplicity of its controls, namely the fact that the Wii Remote (aka Wiimote) just felt like such a natural way to play a game.
Televisions used to be great for just one thing—watching TV. But a more connected world brought with it Smart TVs, devices that can access the web, stream Netflix, and even mirror your smartphone's display. And with this level of connectivity, OEMs like Samsung saw it fit to place targeted and interactive ads on your screen.
For some odd reason, the Netflix app likes to disable the Nexus Player's built-in screensaver. It doesn't use its own, it simply keeps your screen on indefinitely, which of course can lead to screen burn-in. This is not just an Android TV issue, as the Netflix app does the same thing on Roku and smart TVs.
If you've sideloaded apps on your Nexus Player, you're surely aware that not very many are optimized for use with a remote control. This can make navigating such apps a pretty big hassle, since they were designed with touchscreen input in mind.
When Google announced its new Android TV platform, one of the features they advertised was a home screen that automatically reorganized your apps based on how frequently you used them. Unfortunately, this feature either didn't make the cut, or is still under development, since the home screen on the Nexus Player always remains static.
The Nexus Player is one of the most robust set-top streaming devices on the market. This is mainly due to the fact that the base software it runs is a direct fork of Android, which is a very powerful operating system itself.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2015: The root process has changed for the Nexus Player now that the device is running Android 6.0 Marhsmallow. I've updated this article with detailed instructions on the new root process, but the video below still depicts the old process for Android Lollipop.
Sling TV, the new over-the-top TV streaming service from DISH Network, is the first to offer live programing for cord cutters. Available for $20 a month with no contract, Sling TV is the easiest way to end the reliance on cable and satellite subscriptions for getting your content as it airs.
At its core, the Chromecast is essentially a web browser on a stick. When you cast content from your computer or smartphone, all you're really doing is telling the Chromecast which website to load.
This tutorial is for everyone who has been waiting for a solution to stream web videos to a Chromecast by using an iPhone or iPad. It is easy as a cakewalk.
Surely you're aware of the Sony hacking scandal by now (here's a quick primer if you're not), as well as the multi-billion dollar company initially bowing to threats by canceling the Christmas release of the The Interview, the film at the center of the whole debacle.
Chromecasts can make for some fun nights. Whether you're setting up a collaborative YouTube watch list, letting everyone add to a giant party playlist, or playing games like Cardcast and Big Web Quiz, Google's streaming media stick is a hit by all accounts.
Using a combination of my phone, laptop, and an arsenal of apps and plugins, I can send pretty much anything to my Chromecast. However, nothing is ever perfect, and the file type that was still giving me headaches were torrent and magnet files.
Amazon has launched its Chromecast competitor, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, which is available for pre-order today. This little dongle has four times the storage and twice the memory of Google's Chromecast, plus many of the features found in Amazon's Fire TV set-top box.
The future of game night is digital. Your Chromecast is great for watching Netflix or YouTube, but get more use out of it by making it the centerpiece for your next fun get-together.
It's been a long-awaited feature since being announced at Google I/O in June, but Backdrop for Chromecast has finally started rolling out. With an update to the Chromecast app for Android and iOS, users will be able to personalize the background images that appear when Chromecast is idle.
When the Chromecast first came out about a year ago, developers were quick to find a way to root the streaming device. Google was almost as fast, however, in updating the Chromecast's firmware to close the loophole that this method used.