Is Chromecast the future of budget internet TV?
THE Apple TV has been the main alternative to the internet TV experience provided by default on any Smart TV.
Google aims to take on Apple's AirPlay technology and at the same time reinvigorate the streaming/internet TV market with a budget device that may become a hit with consumers everywhere.
The Chromecast is a $35 (roughly £23, although not available in the UK yet) HDMI dongle that connects to any HD TV, mirroring content from a smartphone, tablet or laptop while allowing the user to control the dongle with their device linked to the Chromecast itself. The Chromecast, measuring roughly 2 inches, requires USB power (most Smart TVs have USB ports built-in) and runs a minimal version of Google's Chrome OS.
It connects to your home Wi-Fi network and is ready to go with an effortless setup process. It's not just for media lovers - the Chromecast achieves a task that has been incredibly fragmented for years with just a click of a button. Web pages can also be mirrored to your TV from Chrome on your computer or portable device, creating a plethora of opportunities for use in home environments, corporate environments and potentially educational institutions too. Google have sadly overlooked password support, meaning that anyone can stream content to your Chromecast dongle as long as they're connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
Tuesday 9th & Wednesday 10th. Carol (with over 16yrs experience) has 10% off - facials. Pedicures. Manicures. Body wraps. Spray tans. Waxing. Tinting. Perming
Terms: For 2 days only. With therapist Carol. Please quote "2 day special offer".
Contact: 01271 440617
Valid until: Thursday, December 12 2013
It's the simplest and cheapest way to empower your TV with smart, internet-enabled capabilities and new possibilities are already spawning, such as external app support. The only huge downside is that Android developers have to add Chromecast support to their applications, as opposed to Apple's AirPlay with a larger level of integration. I'm looking forward to testing the Chromecast and feel that Chromecast has huge potential to rival the Apple TV based on the easy setup process, simplicity of the user interface and most importantly the cost.
I'm going to be featuring two newly released apps in the #techreview App Spotlight every month in the run-up to Christmas. This week, I take a look at AppCooker, an iPad app for anyone who's serious about planning and developing their own iOS app and Dialogue, a Mac application that manages smartphone calls and pushes them to and from your Mac.
Dialogue for Mac, £4.99
THERE have been many simplifications and advancements in desktop-mobile unification, although calling is one area where a simple and modern consumer-ready solution has not been devised. Enter Dialogue. Dialogue uses Bluetooth to link your Mac and your smartphone. When you receive a call, the Dialogue prompt swiftly pops up on your screen, and you can take the call straight away. You can also use Dialogue to make outgoing calls that are processed on your Mac and dialled through your smartphone.
One feature of Dialogue that's suited for business users is call recording, allowing the user to record a call and save the conversation to your system. Call recording is a sensitive area and should only be carried out legally for benign purposes with the full consent of the client. The app works well and the interface is sleek; for the best call quality headphones are recommended with a wearable headset microphone or microphone embedded into a set of headphones if possible. Dialogue is compatible with Android and Windows Phone devices and the iPhone.
AppCooker for iPad, £13.99
SERIOUS about developing your own iOS app? Got an idea for an iOS app you feel is viable which you want to plan out? AppCooker is a powerful suite of tools in the form of an iPad app for anyone who wants to plan the interface and concepts for their idea. AppCooker doesn't allow you to actually create the application or code it, although it is great for planning both the concept behind the application (audience, features, ratings) and the application itself, with powerful interactive storyboarding and wireframing tools to make your design closer to reality. AppCooker users can share their interface mockups with other users too in the form of clickable storyboards for those who really want to demonstrate the functions of their idea.
If you've developed an iOS app and are ready to release it on to the App Store to make a profit, AppCooker allows you to input details about the financial side of your application and the entire development process to calculate and project income from your application. I think AppCooker's interface is well-structured and sleek, following an intelligent process of design and planning stages. I reiterate the fact that the app is aimed at serious users who are committed to application development because of the app's price tag. The app sports a unified approach to the application development and planning workflow and I truly recommend AppCooker for anyone who wants to professionally plan each stage of their idea for an iOS application.
FOLLOWING LG's latest press event on the 7th of August, the South Korean company feel confident that their latest announcement could help them make a comeback in the ever-changing smartphone market. The G2 is a device that excels internally, although its exterior bears some resemblance to the Samsung Galaxy S4 and can be regarded as a boring design – except for one feature.
This feature has sparked controversy as to whether it can be classed as an innovation or a confusion because the physical buttons are located on the back of the device. The volume buttons and the power button are now situated under the camera although in my opinion I can't describe this change as an innovation until opinions can be gauged at public release.
LG is currently the leader of the pack in the 'screen usability' race, making sure that you can make the most of the device's extensive screen real estate. Another change that I feel will annoy users solely because of the 'usual' placement on other devices is the headphone port now being situated on the bottom of the device. The G2 itself packs a punch with an internal specifications list comprising of a 5.2 inch Full HD display, a 13-megapixel camera and a 3000mAh battery with the promise that from a full charge the device will stay powered for at least one day. However, the device does not have a MicroSD card slot and has a maximum internal capacity of 32GB.
Compared to HTC's Sense UI, the LG user interface is bloated and confusing for a new user. Common areas like the notification bar are cluttered with coloured controls and shortcuts. LG plans to market 'smart covers' for the G2 with a similar design to the Galaxy S4 - a range of colours with a cut-out section to view a portion of the screen designed to show updates and the time/date. Although LG have produced a smartphone with impressive specifications, I feel that the combination of the unusual physical alterations and the clunky user interface create an experience that won't be the striking blow LG need to regain a spot in the smartphone market.