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Google Chromecast - crap!

11 January 2019

The wife wanted Netflix but our "generic" brand TV isn't smart enough on its own.

Sadly, Kodi doesn't support Netflix and although the BluRay player does, it isn't WiFi enabled so I'd have had to run a cable the length of the house in order to hook that up. I might also mention that the "brand-name" Panasonic player is somewhat prone to crashing, requiring semi-regular power-cycling in order to restore it to a working state.

I figured therefore that I'd just buy a Chromecast (hideously expensive in NZ when compared to the US price) and bung that in the back of the set.

Zip, zap, open, insert, power-on and away we go... right?

Well not quite.

On powering up the TV and Chromecast I was told I'd need to install Google Home on my smart device in order to configure things.

Aha... I got out the smartphone I'd bought about six months earlier and proceeded to install Google Home.

Tap... wait... WTF?

Okay, so now I need to update another Google service on my smartphone, or so I was told. No worries, I tape on "update".

Things tick along, the update is downloaded and starts to install...

Error 910

WTF?

The "help center" link was useless so I went to Google and searched.

A raft of "maybe" solutions were offered. Remove any SD card you might have in the phone, clear the app's cache, close one eye and poke your tongue out the right side of your mouth... you know the kind of thing.

I farted around with the default destination for downloads and that seemed to fix the 910 error code -- but then I was told that things couldn't proceed until I'd deleted some apps to make space.

WTF? I have *plenty* of space, according to the storage status information in "settings".

Never the less, I deleted a couple of apps (ones I use a lot too -- bugger!) and the update went ahead.

"Installing updates" was the message that stayed on my phone's screen... for HOURs!

In the end I gave up and aborted the process -- only to find that it worked. I guess the upgrade had completed but the phone forgot to tell itself.

To cut a long story short... I got around to configuring the Chromecast using the phone and then all I had to do was in stall the Netflix app on the phone.

Bingo... done!

Now to enjoy the Netflix via Chromecast experience.

Ugh!

Perhaps I'm doing it wrong but there seems no way to "cast" the menus and navigation screens of the app to the TV screen. Someone please explain how to do this if you know.

As a result, all the navigating, selecting and reading about stuff has to be done on this crappy little 5-inch LCD... while the 44-inch LCD sitting in front of me just displays the word "Netflix" in large, friendly red letters.

What's more, if you want to pause, rewind or change your viewing material, you have to have the phone on the entire time. After a few minutes, the phone turns off its LCD and goes into standby mode which means that if you want to do something as simple as pause the video you've got to hit the button on the phone and swipe to activate the screen and app again.

What an ergonomic nightmare!

Compared to Kodi, this thing is a piece of crap -- as a way of getting video to a big screen and controlling it.

My Kodi setup uses a low-cost Raspberry Pi with a full-size wireless keyboard. I can type stuff for searches at 120 WPM, jump around the screen with the arrow keys in the blink of an eye and everything is super-legible because all the navigation and synopsis data is easy to see on the big screen.

By comparison, using Chromecast with a phone is a super-kludge and, in my honest opinion, a total waste of money.

Where to from here?

Should I waste good money after bad buy simply going out and buying a cheap 7" Lenovo tablet to replace the small smartphone I've presently dedicated to the role of remote control and navigation for the Chromecast?

Or should I configure a cheap Raspberry Pi to act as a Wifi to ethernet device, effectively enabling me to hook up the flaky BluRay player without a hardwired cable to the router?

I'd love your input on this one -- partly because now the wife has my bloody phone and won't give it back because it has become the Netflix remote.

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