Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Chromecast One Week Experiment: Can You Chromecast Everything?

The Most Popular TV Addon In The World
Lets be real for a second. Most of us (at least my friends) are committing some sort of piracy to obtain our entertainment. Without admitting to any criminal activity, lets just say that I've found it useful to preview full versions of works obtained by creative means, and later when I've felt guilty, I've purchased box sets of seasons of shows, and albums from great artists. It's a more ethical form of content consumption. Plus, you make sure the artist ultimately gets some sort of compensation for their hard work. It also means if something is complete SHIT they don't get a fucking dime. As it should be. You shouldn't have to pay for shit that is indeed, shit.

But then the excellent Google Play Music All Access happened.

Every song ever done by anybody in the past and in the future. Add whole albums to your library. Listen to them when you feel like it in the order you want, no advertisements, 10 bucks a month. And it works great with Chromecast. And you think "yanno, this is a hell of a lot easier than um, sampling albums". It's a whole lot of not having to care anymore. And it's legal! And you start to crave that simplicity with your TV and Movies.

So why not cable? 

Because cable is dumb tech from the past. I should be able to watch a show when I feel like it. Plus the cable companies are assholes with shit fucking horrible service and a ridiculous pricing structure. That leaves just getting really fast Internet, and doing it the risky way. So what is the "risky way"?

1) A dedicated machine for downloading illegal content. Lets go cheap and say 200 bucks.

2) The keyboards and mouses and controllers and cables and drives and whatnot. We'll say another 100 bucks.

3) The subscription to Usenet (torrents get you busted and aren't safe anymore). 12 bucks.

4) A second subscription to a backup European Usenet server (you need two now because of takedown requests) 12 bucks.

5) A few subscriptions to two or three nzb listing services. Figure 30 bucks (one time)

So on the cheap, 330 bucks upfront and 25 bucks a month for the access to newsgroups. Not to mention dealing with:

1) Setting up XBMC, sabnzbd, Couch Potato, Sickbeard
2) Dealing with fakes and stupid encrypted files, the wrong languages, subtitles, etc.
3) Dealing with various resolutions and not getting the quality you want
4) Sitting around waiting for new episodes to show up
5) Dealing with storage
6) Replacing nzb listers as they get shut down (it will happen)
7) In the back of your mind, worrying about getting busted

Sure, when you have everything set up perfectly, it will work fine. Until it doesn't. Then it will be a pain in the ass for a short time, and your doctorate in pirating content will come in handy for the 15 minutes to an hour it might take to fix things. To update sabnzbd. To fix xbmc when it keeps crashing, figuring out why shows aren't showing up. Paying for new nzb listing services, etc. So occasionally it will be a huge pain in the ass. Plus, if you are like me, guilt catches up to you and you just end up buying box sets and dvds anyway. That, and TV doesn't suck NEARLY as much as it used to suck. We are in an age of amazingly great television, and there are finally modern subscription options.

So that got me thinking. If I make a list of every show that I watch, could I cover it with Chromecast? It happens that I can. Here's how I'm doing it.

The Cornerstones Of Any Chromecast Setup

Hulu Plus and Netflix are no brainers. They are also most of your worries gone instantly. They also work perfectly from your phone, tablet, or laptop. That's 8 bucks for Netflix, and 8 bucks for Hulu Plus.

HBO GO covers a whole lot of great TV shows. Along with Showtime Anytime, you have most high value things covered. Even better, they are free (depending on your Internet provider) even if you just have high speed Internet service in some cases. It will mean you'll have to use Chromecast with a browser tab, but it works fine. We just enjoyed some Masters Of Sex from Showtime for example. Very good show!

I love Anime. Crunchyroll has become amazing about having everything that doesn't suck in an Anime season, and nothing that does. Also, both Netflix and Hulu have some decent Anime as well.

If you are a Prime member already (I am), you can stream a tab just as easily from this as you can from anything else.

See, that's the glory of Chromecast. If you can play it in a tab, you can play it on your TV. ANY VIDEO on ANY SITE that STREAMS in a tab (understand what I'm saying here) can be played on your TV.

So lets add all that up:

Chromecast: 35 bucks
HBO/Showtime/Amazon/Hulu/Netflix/Crunchyroll: 22 a month

1) Will always be in the right language, and work
2) No need to download anything
3) No need to delete anything or maintain a library
4) No jailtime <--- major plus
5) Cheaper! (less upfront cost. Less recurring cost)
6) A hell of a lot easier. 

But there's the concept of theory versus practice. So I'm going to test this theory for a week or two and let you know what I think. So far it has been pretty awesome.