12
Aug
CheapCast-Thumb

The Chromecast is already a cheap device, but it isn't exactly easy to get your hands on one right now. The device sold out online and in Best Buys across the US within the span of a day. Now Google Play estimates that new purchases won't ship for 3 - 4 weeks, and who knows when Amazon will restock. What's a person left to do? Enter the CheapCast, a free app by developer Sebastian Mauer that lets any Android device replicate the functionality of a Chromecast.

Does It Work As Well As A Chromecast?

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Short answer: yes. Like the Chromecast dongle that it replaces, the CheapCast doesn't have much in the way of options, nor does it take long to set up. Since it's coming from an Android device that you've already connected to WiFi, it skips the setup phase that a Chromecast dongle goes through. Just plug the tablet into the HDMI port of your TV and activate the service using the button in the top right. It's really that simple. I was able to pull out my phone, see the CheapCast from the YouTube app, and stream the new HTC One commercial starring Robert Downey Jr. without hitting any snags. That said, I only tested the CheapCast on one device. Your mileage may vary.

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What's The Catch?

For one, tab casting is not supported. Video quality is also limited by the device the app is installed on. That aside, much of the beauty of the Chromecast is that it disappears tidily behind a TV. A tablet, on the other hand, does not. A tablet plugged into an HDMI port is still as unsightly as, well, a tablet plugged into an HDMI port. Unless someone is willing to invest in a dock or some other attractive means to semi-permanently situate their device next to the TV, it's going to look like someone forgot to clean up their mess, and at that point, they may have spent more money than they would have on a Chomecast.

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But this problem goes away entirely if you're using an old smartphone instead of a tablet, especially if it's small enough to tape to the back of the TV. Sure, it will need its own dedicated power supply, but so does a Chromecast. With enough duct tape, it can be just as seamless of a solution (as long as the back of your TV isn't visible). There are also Android mini-PCs and HDMI sticks available out there that, with the help of CheapCast, could turn your dumb TV into a smart one.

Should You Download It?

The CheapCast isn't for general consumers - it's for tinkerers. The challenge of how to replicate a Chromecast's elegance isn't a job for the app developer, it's a task for those of you who can't bear the wait for stores to restock. It's a useful app to help you create your own Android-based television setup, and it's great for someone who docks their Android devices often enough to see the value in being able to use a separate Android device as a remote, someone with enough devices gathered up that not having to buy another dongle - even at $35 - will save them money. For everyone else, the Chromecast is still the cheaper deal.

Thanks.

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Zack Dunda

    So "any Android device" can output to HDMI?

    • Paul_Werner

      Not all but I can at least tell you one that does but seems to still not work with this app. The OUYA. Not sure why as I've seen at least one person on G+ state they have this working with the OUYA

      When I tried the OUYA didn't show up in the CheapCast share menu. Hopefully it's just since this is beta ATM though

    • http://kennydude.me/ Joe Simpson

      For me I like using it for a tablet screen

  • Drew

    I'm going to try this out on my Co-Star as soon as I get home.

    • Paul_Werner

      From what I read on G+ it should be working for you. Only wish my OUYA worked. Not sure why it's not working for me ATM though

  • mgamerz

    You also need a device that can output 1080p at a full 60fps or you'll get some stuttering which ruins the experience.

    • GlennStile

      why 60fps ? 1080p25 is fine for DVB

  • James Gibbons

    I have a Droid X I am not using, it will be perfect for this with it's HDMI/USB dock!

    • Michael Pahl

      Not sure the DroidX is fast enough to output 1080p @ 60fps.

      • Kcls

        Not even the ChromeCast is fast enough to output 1080p at 60fps lol

        • jm9843

          Sure it is. I'm not sure where you got the idea that Chromecast can't output 1080p at 60 fps.

          • Kcls

            Because when I stream Hulu from a Chrome Tab at 720p it skips frames. Like a lot of frames. This is with only Chrome running on my computer.

          • Michael Pahl

            thats because streaming video from a chrome tab is in beta....

          • Kcls

            Gmail was too just last year :P

      • Dart

        The DROID X will only do 720p. Well, the OMAP3 inside, that is.

        Still 720p out of a 3 year old phone is decent. Cheers.

      • GraveUypo

        you'd be hard-pressed to find a video on that format though. it's usually either 24fps or 30.

    • Jason Anderson

      Let us know if it works

  • Nathan Borup

    It is compatible with a google tv... Installed :)

    • Marcellus1

      I was happy to see that too. Installed on my GTV and will test it out later. 'Course I'll be uninstalling it once I get the JB update since chromecast will be baked in at that point...

      • Nathan Borup

        I hope that update comes soon. I have one of the LG google tv's and it is awesome, i just wish it had JB features

        • Marcellus1

          Same. I love my LG GTV! The update has been rumored to come in Q3 this year, so hopefully within the next few weeks here...

    • ruperto17

      Why? Google TV can already do this.

      • Nathan Borup

        Because now pulling up an article with a youtube video is easy to display on my tv. Just send it from my phone

        • ThePhanein

          If your TV has wifi you should be able to just push the video from the youtube app.

  • afurger

    Whenever I'm home, my tablet is hooked to my stereo. It'll be nice to control my music from anywhere.

  • http://www.ScienceProUSA.com SciencePro

    Planning to load this on my Nexus Q running CyanogenMod, to finally give it purpose again. We've come full circle :)

    • jaysenreed

      Much better than Google Chromecast is Miracast TV -- which doesn’t limit the content you display like Chromecast does, and a new $39 Miracast HD Wireless adapter became available this week, which offers a lot more features and works much more like Apple’s $100+ Airplay Wireless display technology –

      One of the first to carry this new device is T ablet Sprint-- worth checking out details.

      • therealbiglou

        From what I've read, Mircast doesn't work very smoothly. Chromecast doesn't limit what content you can send to it. You can send anything from the web or any local content from your PC/Network or mobile device. You can even cast your entire desktop.

      • Thomas’

        What's the adapter's name?

      • PhilNelwyn

        Please, stop spamming us with Tablet Sprint.

  • jeffhesser

    I highly doubt anyone has an android device that can handle HD netflix or youtube that has a value of less than $35. I submit that the app should be thusly renamed!

    • John O’Connor

      If you have an OLD phone or device lying around that no longer serves a purpose (and is not used any longer), then yes, it serves a function as a stand-in chromecast.

    • James Gibbons

      It IS called CHEAPcast after all..

  • Ben Enos

    Would it work with an iPhone connected to the TV instead of another smartphone? Don't have an extra android phone laying around but definitely have an iPhone I would be willing to duct tape to the back of my TV.

    • Brett Livingston

      I'm imagine only if that iphone was running android...

  • ugenius

    Use imedia share when your tv is connected to wifi, works perfect!

    • GlennStile

      but you need a TV that is DLNA / Smart, this is for people that don't.

  • Jack

    Whats the point? A MHL cable does everything.

    • GlennStile

      except you need an mhl cable long enough to reach from your TV to your sofa (or keep getting up to change it) and then said cable is laying across your living room floor.

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/rsrmean rMean

        Or a ps3 Bluetooth Controller and Sixaxis app :-)

        • IamTheFij

          To control Netflix and Youtube? I'll pass.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/rsrmean rMean

            why? when you are done watching, use your phone as a portable gaming station :-)
            But i would prefer a HDMI dongle too. I would also just get a chromecast for that price, but non-us, so sry, Google :-)

    • Adam Truelove

      I think you're missing the point entirely.

  • Ou2

    Does it work with the Ouya?

  • Jack

    Heres a better idea, buy a 100 quid htpc and and use wifi mouse to control it.

    • IamTheFij

      Or spend less money and use your phone you already have! BRILLIANT!

  • therealbiglou

    I'm going to try this as a "bridge" between my phone and the bluetooth receiver on my stereo. I love listening to music on my patio, but the bluetooth range of my AV receiver doesn't work too well outside. If I could instead connect my tablet to the stereo via bluetooth and then control music playback with CheapCast, I would then no longer have an issue with range/interference.

  • Matthew Fry

    Does anyone know what the reasoning is for limiting the casting to only the Pixel Chromebook? It can't be an OS issue. It can't be a processor issue (my HP has an Intel processor). So... why make something called the Chromecast that cannot be used with a Chromebook?

    • dogulas

      I'm guessing it is a work in progress is all.

  • n0th1ng_r3al

    I'm confused as to what this does? Isn't the Chromecast a device that allows you to connect your laptop to your tv wirelessly? What's the point of using the HDMI/MHL cable? I can connect it directly to my TV and nod install anything

    • richardarkless

      1. Install cheapcast
      2. Connect unused phone or tablet to tv
      3. Beam stuff to it from your pc, laptop or another device

      Basically turns your phone or tablet into a chromecast

      • n0th1ng_r3al

        Everything is installed and running. Where do I access it from Chromeon my laptop?

        • richardarkless

          Yea, once you install the chrome extension an icon will appear on YouTube and other sites that added Chromecast support.

          The same with an extra device and Chromecast compatible apps

      • Primalxconvoy

        1. Connect pc to tv.
        2. Use Android mouse/keyboard app to control pc via Android phone.
        3. Stream oodles of content.

  • John O’Connor

    ROFLMFAO... With enough duct tape... HAHAHAHAHAHA

  • dli7319

    good for those cheap china android sticks

    • WHO?

      naw.... I prefer to use droidmote and launch the app inside my mk808. Casting from cheapchrome is very choppy and dosent work for some.

  • skeeterfood

    Haven't tried this yet, but should also be useful if you're trying to just stream audio to a stereo system (whole house audio system) that does not have HDMI as an input option.

    • skylarkpilot

      This is what got me excited about Cheapcast. I already have a Chromecast, but if I just want to play music I need to leave my TV on. With Cheapcast I can turn my old cell phone into a dedicated audiocast receiver...brilliant!

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    Been running this on my Tronsmart MK908 works fairly well, YouTube works and Play Music works but I can't get Play Movies to work - it says "attempting to connect 1/5" goes up to 5 and then kicks me out.

  • Floss

    Developing with the Cast SDK just got easier. Now I can just set this up on my tablet and see whether my changes work without needing to walk to the other side of the house first!

  • Andrew

    It works with Android 2.3? Nice, finally a job for my old Atrix 4G! I still hope Chromecast will arrive in few weeks.

  • asroyal

    Anybody know if this will run on BlueStacks? Thought I could load it on my desktop and cast things to it. No luck so far though.

    • WHO?

      I will say no since you tried it out for me.. Thanks!

  • Dart

    Heh. I could hook up my EVO 3D via MHL to the TV downstairs that doesn't have a Chromecast installed.

    Its Snapdragon S3 can handle 1080p easily. Awesome.

  • Alain Lafond

    Chromecast cheap! Yeah, for americans... For canadians $100.00 on EBay! Cool!

    • WHO?

      Well to be fair i will ship from Ebay for $90

  • WHO?

    Great write up. Im glad it was mentioned this is not for everyone but more of a proof of concept. The streams are very choppy for most people. But the idea is pretty cool. Now he has enabled devs to allow their apps to be casted through his app. All in all i assume this also will put pressure on Google to finalize their SDK before more people get ideas and possibly not need a chromecast eventually.

  • ThePhanein

    I'm not understanding Chromecast because Smart TVs aren't that expensive. I picked up a 36" (35.5) 1080p Sony for $220 at Walmart and it has all the smart functions. Though I mostly use it as a monitor for my laptop.

    • WHO?

      Well is a smart TV $35? For $35 anyone can have your TV with better specs.

    • Risto Rautanen

      I have a 2011 Sony Smart TV and it's pretty much unsupported now. No new apps or seamless Youtube/device pairing for me. Chromecast is much more future proof and has the added benefit that it works with services which are unsupported by Smart TVs.

      I hope Cheapcast will add tab casting in near future so I could use it with my OUYA until I can order Chromecast here in Europe.

      • JJCommonSense

        Have u tried updating the firmware on the tv? I have a sony media streamer and it gets updates (when theyre out that is)

        • Risto Rautanen

          Yeah I have updated it. These smart TV:s will become obsolete really fast. Manufacturers have no incentive to update apps/firmware on 2 year old models.

          I don't actually care much about it's "smart" features anyway as I have HTPC and Xbox connected to it. They work so much better than any integrated TV application. I hope to get my hand on a Chromecast really soon though as I love to tinker with new devices :-)

    • King Lo

      Your argument is debunked by the fact that I already own a TV (a very large one) and am not going to buy another one for quite some time.

  • Primalxconvoy

    If you connect your phone to the tv via hdmi, you could just use another phone to control the_entire phone via another app and then you can stream ANYTHING to the tv, non?

  • strauzo

    Good to have on my android hdmi stick. I already control my hdmi stick with my android phone through DroidMote but now i can also send directly video links through CheapCast Chromecast receiver simulator. Good.

  • Sarang Pitale

    I have 3 android devices listed below and an LCD TV with HDMI port.
    1. Samsung Galaxy Mini GT-s5570 (no hdmi out)
    2. Samsung Galaxy S Advance (no hdmi out)
    3. Nexus 7 32 gb (no hdmi out)

    The only HDMI cable i have is one which goes out of the set top box and connects to the HDMI port on TV. Its an HDMI - HDMI cable.

    For cheapcast to work what kind of options do i have to connect either of the 3 android devices to my TV? Which one would be the cheapest?

  • http://us.playstation.com/ps4 Mark Cerny

    I was expecting it to turn my old android phone to a chromecast that i can plug to tv via USB :(

  • Sietai

    I have a htc G2 with a fucked up digitizer. I guess I can put it on a charger and plug it into some speakers to have a remote sound system

  • Sergio

    I ordered my ChromeCast online through BestBuy a few days ago. I even received a Netflix code good for 3 months that was supposedly no longer being issued, and best part of it all? I received my ChromeCast today. I sure am lucky. Sorry for the gloating.

  • Chris Arellano

    I wonder what kind of formats my HP Touchpad on CM9 can output with this?

    • Chris Arellano

      update: nevermind, Touchpad cant connect to TV. -_____-

  • Piotr Bagniewski

    For me it only works with youtube, not netflix, not google music, not with chrome tab casting, it's very limited. Don't get me wrong, I like it, I like that it can be done, but it needs some work and its' not compatible with gingerbread at least not with my moto artix 4g. I hope it will eventually evolve to full-flagged chromecast.

  • Michał Droździewicz

    Does anyone else has this problem with only 2-3secs of video playing and the everything crashes?

  • Tony Humphrey

    Doesn't work on my s4 and note8

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