January 20, 2017

Google Chromecast To the Rescue

In order to be suitable for business class use, particularly in regards to replacing outdated, clumsy, and prone-to-failure business presentation methods, a product must be versatile. This product must be secure. Most importantly, this product must be sized conveniently for the frequent traveling the average businessman endures. To the surprise of, perhaps everyone, this could be where Google’s Chromecast comes in.

What was previously thought only as a consumer streaming device, capable only of streaming Netflix, HBO, YouTube or your favorite MLB, NBA, or various sporting events, the Google Chromcast, which can be purchased for a very competitive $35, is capable of much more.

The Chromcast, weighing in at 1.2 Oz, built in a circular shape reminiscent of a puck, can fit into virtual any laptop bag, carry-on, or luggage has the ability to stream any web page accessible via Google’s Chrome browser to any screen or monitor with an HDMI input. That’s big. Huge, in fact.

Why is this such a big deal? It’s the ease-of-use. It’s Google’s dedication to seamless functionality. It’s the difference between a ten (or more) minute delay due to technical difficulties brought on by convoluted projector settings and a knock out of a presentation with near zero delay between screen and laptop throughout. The Chromecast discovers your Wi-Fi network, and once connected to your chosen device, be it a laptop, tablet, or phone, everything is ready to go.

Beyond the ease-of-use, it wouldn’t take one long to conceptualize what’s possible by simply streaming Chrome browser tabs. There is countless web apps available tailor-made for business use. Go-To-Meeting (gotomeeting.com), for instance, makes hosting meetings with remote employees easier than ever, or, if everyone is in the room, Creately, will ensure that your business plans are brilliantly visualized, with the ability to access cloud-stored flowcharts that your entire team can access and corroborate notes on.

Of course, the benefits don’t end with streaming Chrome tabs, as there is a selection of Google’s business wise apps, including Google’s Docs, and Slides apps; respectively, these two apps are entirely cloud based, and more and more comparable to their competing Microsoft Word apps as time goes on.

For all the business teams out there, looking for ways to everyone in the room to contribute to a conference, you may be excited to find out that anyone in the room with Chromecast installed on their PC or mobile devices can share their screen, as well. A simple click or touch of the casting button in the app will immediately place what is on their screen into the visual conversation. This could be especially useful for anything ranging from note sharing to swapping to an entirely different presentation within the blink of an eye.

There has to be a catch, right? With all of these fantastic business features at your fingertips, all just by inserting a simple HDMI dongle, foregoing countless cables in the process, there has to be some reason why there aren’t more business users raving about Google and their Chromecast, and as sad as it is to declare, there are a few choice issues holding the Chromecast back from being a true business class product.

For starters, as ready as the Chromecast is for presentation primetime, it is prone to infrequent, and sometimes frequent, slowdowns when the Chromecast is on a network with many connected users. This can be remedied by Chromecast’s guest mode, allowing each user to connect via their own networks, if available (a big if, indeed).

Unfortunately, those won’t be the only network roadblocks that will occur, a much bigger issue will be the Chromecast’s willingness to connect to your highly sensitive corporate network to begin with. The Chromecast makes itself known to any network via specific ports, meaning it requires a network which is somewhat open, for instance, your average home connection. As we all know, corporate connections are not, and cannot function in this manner. So, unless one has access to opening network ports, similar to how Cisco instructs with their equipment, your Chromecast business plans may just be on hold until Google provides a solution.

However, if at all able to leap through those network related pitfalls, the Google Chromecast could very well be exactly what you and your business partners are looking for. Broadband for business has many benefits and you don’t have to use them all, but when it comes to presentation solutions, for as reasonably priced, or as adequately sized for travel, there really are no options quite as well suited for the job.

If you don’t know how to stream content from a Linux system to Chromecast, Swapnil wrote a great article for you.

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