Google’s flexibility or Apple’s power? Take your pick – and pick up before you fly.
In the middle of a new favourite series? Don’t let your next business trip interrupt the storyline. With streaming devices from Apple and Google, you can enjoy the next episode on your hotel TV seconds after check-in.
It’s every traveller’s wish. After a long journey – and a full day’s work – you finally close the door in your hotel room. You flick on the TV, cross your fingers, and all you can silently hope for is something more engaging than the Weather Channel. If not? It’s back to the laptop.
Now you have another choice. TV streaming devices – Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast – allow you to connect your laptop, tablet or phone to almost any TV in seconds, essentially screen-sharing whatever you’re watching.
Apple TV is smaller than a smartphone, and Chromecast could pass for a flash drive, so both are small enough to slot into your hand luggage. You won’t even notice you’re carrying it.
How do I get started?
Both devices plug straight into a TV’s HDMI port – so you might need to unplug another device if it’s already occupied. Then you’re usually ready to go. If you can watch it on your small screen, now you can play it on a big one too.
What you can watch will depend on what’s available where you are – so things like Netflix, iPlayer, 4od, Now TV… if you can access them over the internet, you can stream them onto your TV. Because set-up is so quick, you could start watching a film in the taxi to your hotel, then finish it off on the big screen in your room when you arrive.
Chromecast vs Apple TV
While there are other streaming devices on the market, these are the big two. But which is right for you?
Google’s Chromecast is cable-free. Plug the dongle into your TV, connect it to the Wi-Fi (and if you don’t already have it, get the app).
Your phone, tablet or laptop becomes your remote. Find what you want to watch on Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube or another streaming app and hit ‘Cast’ to send it to your TV. You’ll run out of trip long before you run out of things to watch.
Once you’re back home, you can plug the dongle into your living room TV – it’s so small, you’ll barely notice it’s there. Friends and family can use it too for sharing pictures, web pages, music and podcasts… entertainment just got a lot more democratic.
Chromecast is small, light – and low-cost too. It’s also got a raft of really useful extras.
- Fast play function predicts what you might want to watch next and starts to load it for you – so no buffering between episodes
- Use the universal search function to look for programmes and films from different apps, streaming from the cheapest option
- With guest mode, friends and family can connect their devices. So if someone wants to show you their holiday pics, or you want to share playlists at a party, it’s nothing but a quick click
- Because it uses your phone as a remote, searching for what you want to watch is so much easier than with other devices, which sometimes use a fiddly plastic remote
Apple TV: one for Mac enthusiasts
Reading this on an iPhone? This might be the better choice for you. Apple’s streamer uses a remote rather than your phone or tablet to let you navigate and select – so once you’re connected it’s a bit more like watching a regular TV.
You can rent or buy pretty much anything from the iTunes store, get access to apps including Netflix and YouTube and also stream media from your personal collection stored on an Apple device. It’s heavier than the Chromecast – but still weighs less than a can of Coke.
You get the easy-to-use operating system you’d expect from Apple, but what are the other stand-out features of this streaming device?
- Stream a whole range of movies and TV shows from the iTunes store in high-quality 1080-pixel HD
- AirPlay allows you to start watching a film on your iPad or iPhone and then finish it on your TV
- Airplay Mirroring lets you beam whatever’s on your iPhone or iPad to the big screen
- Store movies, music, TV shows, photos and more on the iCloud and access them whenever you want on Apple TV