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Chromecast (2015) and Chromecast Audio

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 12:04 pm
by CA_Steve
Damn you, Logitech k400 keyboard.

This is the thought (ok, the actual thought involved more cursing) that went through my head the night before Google dropped the price of Chromecast/Audiocast to two for $50 on Black Friday. The keyboard had gone clattering to the floor from the coffee table and sofa one too many times and now would only connect reliably to it's USB receiver on my MSI Cubi from about 3 feet away...and then it became 1 foot away. Even when I could use it from the comfy recliner, I found the trackpad sensitivity to be all over the map. Combine that with (still) poor 10' UI experience in Win10 with browsers and I was getting grumpy. There had to be a better solution. Getting a better/pricier keyboard/trackpad combo would only solve part of the problem.

So, I spent the $50 for the two Chromecast units. I had a brand new Nexus 5X to pair up. Should be educational. :)

Chromecast: Easy to set up, easy to pair. Comes with a tiny wall wart and a detachable USB to micro-USB cable. I plugged the HDMI cable into one of my receiver's ports and the wall wart into a switched outlet (turns off with receiver power). Device pulls about one watt under idle and load. I streamed 1080p content from Netflix, CBS, and NBC without any stuttering issues using a 802.11n router. Buffering time for Netflix was similar to the Cubi. Using the phone as a content server and remote for the content is great.

App permissions in Android: Here's a big shout out for Marshmallow's App Permission settings. Prior versions don't give granular control and you either accept that the app is hoovering up your personal data or you don't install the app. With Marshmallow, you can deny any/all. You might come across a denial that breaks the app, but easier to try than not. Here's the good to bad on the three apps I tried:

Netflix: Casting works great. Decent phone interface includes 30sec rewind. No app permissions.

Hulu (free): Casting is only available behind subscription paywall. App permissions requested: Phone.

CBS (free): Casting works well. App permissions requested: Contacts, Location, Phone, Storage. Video casts with all permissions denied.

NBC (free): Doesn't support casting. App permissions requested: Contacts, Location, Phone, Storage. Video streams with all permissions denied.

PBS: still need to check it out.

I'm sure there are plausible reasons for why these networks want these permissions. Social network sharing, localized ads, looking for pirated content on your phone.. :)

In any case, I've solved the easy remote control/entry for a good portion of my streaming needs and reduced the power use from 10W to 1W.

Haven't hooked up the Chromecast Audio to the stereo, yet.

Re: Chromecast (2015) and Chromecast Audio

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 4:20 pm
by lodestar
Might be worth noting that with Android 5 (Lollipop) or 6 (Marshmallow) that there is a facility in Settings to Cast the current screen to the Chromecast. This is a possible solution to apps with no native Chromecast support.

Re: Chromecast (2015) and Chromecast Audio

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:29 am
by CA_Steve
Thanks - I'll try messing with that.

Chromecast Audio: I hooked it up to my stereo and streamed music from my phone (music imported from my iTunes library). Did a quick A/B comparison to my iPod Classic 80GB hooked up to the same stereo. iPod sounded slightly better. Then I realized the iPod was connected with optical Toslink and using the receiver's DAC and the Chromecast Audio was using it's internal DAC and copper to connect. So, waiting on a mini-Toslink cable and will retest.

Google recently updated the firmware and now the device supports up to 96KHz/24bit lossless formats. Not a biggie to me as I can't tell the difference between CD and 320k VBR with my set up. Multi-room casting, however, is pretty cool.

Re: Chromecast (2015) and Chromecast Audio

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 12:24 pm
by xan_user
how is the time sync for multi room use for whole home audio? sonos has been the only one to get this right, so far.

Re: Chromecast (2015) and Chromecast Audio

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:28 pm
by CA_Steve
I guess I should have said, multi-room casting is a cool feature that I haven't tried. I had hoped that the regular Chromecast would also act like a Chromecast Audio...heck it's plugged into my A/V receiver. :) Alas, couldn't get it to cast audio. When you are able to do multi-casting, there's a manual setting for adjusting group delay per device.