Google may have just won the living room

marquee-productI think Google's finally developed a tech product that I truly, legitimately, want to run right out and buy.

This one sort of came out of left field.  Seems like I run out for lunch, and when I got back, Google won the living room.  Enter the "Chromecast," a new wireless HDMI dongle that allows streaming video directly to your television.  Certainly it's nothing new, as Roku's had a "streaming stick" for a while now, but this one seems different.

I guess the most obvious thing that jumps out at me is the price point -- a measely $35.  Roku's streaming stick is somewhere in the ballpark of three times that.  It's even cheaper than the cheapest Roku standalone box.  What's more, it comes with three months of Netflix, even if you're already a paid subscriber.  So, really, after you figure in all the Arrested Development streaming that comes with it, it's like $11.  That's surefire blind-buy territory.

So what about the device itself, which looks like a little tick glomming onto your HDTV?  It appears it will feature apps like Netflix and YouTube (which Roku still doesn't feature officially) and others coming down the pipe like Pandora.  What makes this particularly interesting is its AirPlay-like functionality, allowing you to use mobile devices and computers to sling content directly to your television.

Anything you can play in a Google Chrome browser tab can be pushed to your TV.  They say it works with Hulu, HBO Go and other stuff, but supposedly not QuickTime or Silverlight media.  This is somewhat ironic, because I retweeted something Wil Wheaton posted earlier today bemoaning Hulu for not letting certain content you can view on the website play in mobile apps or on TV.  I guess you could now play things like Hulu's Food Network catalog, which (dang it all!) I can only watch on a PC on my big, glorious (albeit 32" 720p) HDTV.

Details look a little sketchy so far, but it looks like you'll also be able to "cast" whatever you're browsing in Google Chrome, like Flickr photos, on your TV as well.  Looking at the intro video below, it looks simple and intuitive enough to make this an accessible product for all users.  And at the $35 price point, it's certainly easier to take the leap for Chromecast versus the old Google TV product.

Color me quite intrigued.

It's apparently available today at Google Play, and at Amazon and Best Buy online, though a search doesn't show it at either third party retailer just yet.

As a die-hard Roku devotee and (involuntary) cord cutter, this could be a potential game changer for tech in the living room.

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