Are you looking for the perfect Christmas gift?  Over the next three weeks we’ll be checking out great apps and technology gifts for Christmas!

Today’s line up includes Google’s Chromecast and Apple’s Apple TV.  Here are key points when deciding between the two options.

Google Chromecast

ChromecastChromecast is a small device that plugs into your TV HDMI port.  It allows you to stream (cast) what playing within the Google Chrome browser from your desktop/laptop computer to your television.  From your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet, Chromecast enables you to watch Chromecast supported apps on your TV.

Key Features:

  • Plugs into any TV that supports HDMI
  • From your laptop/desktop you can view any web page you are viewing in Google Chrome browser on your TV.
  • From your Android or Apple smartphone or tablet you can screen cast any app that has built-in Chromecast support.  Apps currently supporting chromecast include:  Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, HBO.GO, Pandora.  On Android phones & tablets you can also stream Google Play movies & music.
  • Requires a wi-fi network
  • Cost ~$35.00

Pro’s:

  • Inexpensive
  • Works with PC, iOS and Android devices
  • Easy setup and no “accounts” are required

Limitations:

  • On mobile devices, it is limited to Apps that support Chromecast (currently 5 but more are being added).  You cannot project picture, video files or other apps stored locally on your device.
  • On laptop/desktop devices you can only project what is in Chrome Browser (can’t show family pictures, documents, presentations,etc. from a local drive)

Apple TV

Apple TV Device

Apple’s Apple TV is not a Television (in the traditional sense of the word).  It is a box device approx 5″ x 5″ that plugs into any TV that supports HDMI input.  It allows you to stream content from a wide variety of providers, iOS devices, iTunes Service and Apple Desktop/laptop devices to your TV.

Key Features:

  • Plugs into any TV that supports HDMI
  • You can use Apple TV if you are an Apple, Android or Windows user as long as you have an iTunes account.
  • Content providers include iTunes Movies & Shows, Music, Netflix, huluPlus, HBO Go, Disney Content, PBS, ESPN, MLB.TV, NBA, Smithsonian, WSJ Live, etc.  A complete list can be found here: http://www.apple.com/appletv/whats-on/.  Note: Some content providers require you to have cable service while others do not. Movies and other content can be rented or purchased.
  • Airplay feature:  If you have an Apple device (computer, iPhone, iPod, tablet, etc.) you can also use Apple’s AirPlay feature with the Apple TV to display any content stored on the device on your television.  This includes pictures, videos, games, apps, etc. that are stored locally on the device.   In addition you can stream any web page content (using any browser).  This is great for watching family made videos &  pictures.  Note:  Some devices may require the latest OS versions. 
  • Requires a wi-fi network
  • Cost ~$99.00

Pro’s:

  • Wide variety of content
  • From an Apple computing device, with Apple TV & and Apple’s Airplay feature you can stream just about anything to a TV.

Limitations:

  • Requires an iTunes account
  • More expensive to have a device for each TV