How to Get the Most Value Out of Google Chromecast

Entertainment systems are becoming more connected all the time, and that’s not a bad thing — this connectivity can add convenience and control to many of the devices in your home. On top of that, though, this connectivity is making it easier to use just a few devices to control many elements of your entertainment setup, which means you don’t have to buy a whole system of expensive components anymore. For the budget-conscious cord-cutter, these new internet-powered devices are a dream come true, and few are more so than Google’s Chromecast.

This tiny casting device plugs easily into most modern TVs to transform them into internet-connected content havens. Cheaper than many streaming devices, depending which model you choose, the Chromecast brings streaming smarts right to your own TV for an affordable price. Even better, Chromecast is adding new features all the time, and if you choose one of your own, there are plenty of other features beyond streaming to take advantage of. Here are some tips on getting the most value out of Google Chromecast:

— Decide which Chromecast fits your needs.

— Use a Chrome extension to cast from your computer.

— Cast spreadsheets, slideshows and photo albums.

— Stream video from your device.

— Connect to Google Assistant for voice control.

Read on for more information on each strategy.

[See: Cord-Cutters, Consider These Video-Streaming Services]

Decide Which Chromecast Fits Your Needs

The first thing you’ll need to decide is which Chromecast to buy. Right now, there are two main versions from which to choose. The Chromecast Ultra, priced at $69, has a built-in Ethernet connection for consistent speed and has the ability to stream video in 4K. However, unless video quality is at the top of your list of streaming priorities, the standard Chromecast may be a better option for you. Priced at $35, this version has many of the same great features as its more expensive sibling for around half the price. Especially if you’re on a budget, it may be worth giving up a little bit of streaming quality to save a good chunk of change on that initial purchase while still getting plenty of handy features.

Use a Chrome Extension to Cast From Your Computer

Because the Chromecast is a Google product, it’s compatible with many of the company’s other products and services. One of the best of these is its connectivity with Chrome. The Google Cast extension, available free in the Chrome Web Store, allows you to mirror your computer’s screen straight onto your TV. This way, whatever you’re working on or watching on your laptop or desktop can be projected onto a bigger screen.

[See: 10 Steps to Cut the Cable Cord]

Cast Spreadsheets, Slideshows and Photo Albums

Beyond its compatibility with Chrome, Google has a whole lineup of products that work with Chromecast. You can share spreadsheets from Sheets, presentations from Slides or pictures from Photos to your TV screen. Business-minded Chromecast users can attest that this function is useful for sharing projects with colleagues, but it’s also great if you just want to share some pictures with guests, making showcasing your work on a big screen that much easier.

[See: 10 Expenses Destroying Your Budget.]

Stream Video From Your Device

The Chromecast can help take the place of a remote while streaming, allowing you to control video apps such as Netflix and YouTube straight from your mobile device. Many streaming services‘ apps come with casting abilities built in, and the Chromecast can bridge the gap between those apps and your TV. You’ll be able to play, pause, select titles and more from your own phone or tablet. You can also mirror your mobile screen, similar to how you’d mirror a computer screen, for even easier sharing and casting.

Connect to Google Assistant for Voice Control

Voice control can add a lot of value to a smart home setup. If you have a smart TV or smart speaker, such as the Google Home, with Google Assistant built in, you can connect it to your Chromecast and control all your casting with just the sound of your voice, amping up the convenience factor significantly. You can also control all your Google smart devices in one place with the Google Home app.

For cord-cutters and smart tech users looking for an inexpensive way to add some smarts to their TVs, Google’s Chromecast is a popular, feature-filled option available at an affordable price. And if you make the most of all of its many features, you’ll be able to get the most value possible out of a Chromecast of your own.

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How to Get the Most Value Out of Google Chromecast originally appeared on usnews.com

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