Chromecast for the road warrior

Is it a great $35 mobile beaming gadget or yet another headache for IT shops?

Google's $35 Chromecast dongle for beaming video and music to HD TVs from smartphones, tablets and laptops appears to be a clear hit for use in America's living rooms. The dongle was already in short supply a day after it was announced.

Chromecast dongle
The Chromecast dongle (Image: Google)

Aside from its consumer appeal, however, might Chromecast also have value for business uses inside enterprises? Or, at least, could it catch on with tech-savvy individual sales personnel or BYOD-friendly executives who might need a mobile gadget to project a slide show or video presentation to a larger HD monitor while on a client visit?

The 2-in. Chromecast device would be easy enough to carry along on a business trip: Just open a Chrome browser to a tab with a sales presentation or other document on just about any fast laptop running Mac or Windows. Then, plug the Chromecast dongle into the HDMI port of an HD display, and plug in power from the USB-ready cord provided with Chromecast. A Wi-Fi connection is also needed.

With its initial release, Chromecast supports streaming content from Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies and Google Play Music from an iOS or Android device. Also, now in beta, users with a fast laptop running Windows, Mac or Chrome OS with the Chrome browser can use the Chromecast to show content inside of a Chrome tab to the HD display. Google also seems on course in future rollouts to make the content in a Chrome browser tab stream to an HD display from any Android or iOS device as well.

An early review by Computerworld's JR Raphael found that Chromecast beaming of Chrome tab content from a Chromebook laptop and a Windows desktop computer "worked brilliantly" although with a slight delay, even in beta. (Note: The user also has to install Google Cast Chrome extension on the laptop or desktop, which is available for free in the Chrome Web Store.)

The idea of an executive streaming a full-featured audio and video financial presentation or product roadmap to a big HD display with Chromecast sounds in theory like the ultimate mobile worker cool tool, several analysts said. However, it's just too soon to say whether Chromecast could catch on in common practice with workers, at least in any widespread way.

Chromecast for workers "will have limited appeal," predicted Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. One shortcoming is that the Chrome browser is not widely deployed in enterprises, he said. Many workers are already using iPads for sales presentations, Gold said. While the iPad supports the Chrome browser, streaming content from a Chrome tab on an iOS or Android device still remains in the future.

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