Many of you might already own a Google Chromecast. If you don't yet I would highly recommend picking one up. They are inexpensive ($35) and it's one of my favorite gadgets of the year. Here are some of my favorite things you can do with Chromecast and why I say it's the best $35 you can spend towards your education.
The Google Chromecast device was launched earlier this year in July and quickly became one of the items in high demand and sold out at many stores. Fortunately supply has been replenished and this holiday season you'll find them all over for sale. While many compare the Chromecast to Apple TV or Roku, I'd venture to say they are actually quite different. Personally I own all three and use them for different things. The Apple TV and Roku are primarily used in my house just to watch movies or shows on Netflix. The Chromecast however is plugged into a TV that is anchored to the wall right next to my desk in my office and while I can do the same things (Netflix, Hulu) I primarily use it for a different purpose.
What I love most about the Chromecast is the YouTube app and Plex app. We all know that YouTube is full of funny videos of people falling, babies laughing, and cats. But it is also a huge repository of millions of educational videos, many of them perfect for photographers trying to learn how to shoot, light, pose and edit better. Of course they are all FREE. Being able to watch these videos while doing my other work is extremely valuable and has helped me learn some great tips to be a better photographer and business owner.
The Plex app, which was recently added to Chromecast allows me to tap into my computer functioning as a media server. There I can access all the video tutorials I have purchased in the past. For example, now rather than watching How To Become a Professional Commercial Wedding Photographer on my computer I can have Plex access it from my computer but play it direct to my TV via Chromecast. It makes the viewing experience much more enjoyable and frees up resources and monitor space I would have otherwise been using if I were viewing the videos on my computer.
What I have found to work best is use the queue function of the apps to put a number of videos in queue that way one plays after another without having to search for new ones each time one finishes. To make it easier I have subscribed to some great educators on a number of different topics so the YouTube app for example shows me what new videos they have put out recently. Takes me just a few minutes to queue up 20-30 videos and I then have hours of education value being streamed to me throughout the day or as in the case of the Fstoppers instructional content I'll have 14+ hours of awesome content to keep me company.
Google Chromecast is cheap, works flawlessly and is easy to install. It literally just plugs into an HDMI input on your tv and then you connect the power supply (or USB direct to the TV). It will connect up to your wireless internet and allow you to then control it using your computer or mobile device. I'd predict that this little device will soon come pre-installed in many televisions. When you've had enough educational videos for the day you can also use it to listen to music via the Pandora, Songza or Google Music apps or catch up on your favorite shows with Netflix, Hulu, HBO. There are quite a few more apps compatible with Chromecast and many more in development that will hopefully be released soon. But for $35, this has definitely been one of the best investments I have made for the year.