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Google Chromecast turns regular TVs into Internet-media smart TVs

Google Chromecast
Google Chromecast brings YouTube and other media from your phone to your TV.

Google just revealed a tiny HDMI dongle that connects to your plain old, non-smart TV, letting you send YouTube videos, Netflix movies, Pandora music and other content from the Internet to the television, all controlled by a phone, tablet or laptop.

The controlling device doesn't stream the content to the TV, which would drain the battery. Instead, you use your phone or other gadget to tell YouTube and other Internet content providers what to play on the node, called Chromecast. It's not just limited to Android, either — it'll works with the iPhone YouTube app, and via the Chrome Web browser.

It can turn on your TV, switch to the right source input, and play videos. In the case of YouTube, the service detects Chromecast on your home Wi-Fi network, and instructs it to control the TV — even the volume.

Though the device connects via HDMI, it gets its power through USB. (Not sure if that needs an extra cord or what.)

And if someone plays a video then leaves the house with the controller phone? Any device on the home network already detects the Chromecast.

If this sounds a bit like the ill-fated Nexus Q, it should — the idea behind that wasn't as bad as the overwrought execution. How much does this one cost? Certainly not $299. Try $35 ... available later today.

Chromecast YouTube diagram
In the case of YouTube, you select content using devices in the home, but then YouTube sends the content directly from the Internet to the Chromecast dongle.