10
Sep
Leapcast-Thumb

I love the Chromecast. I'd easily call it the best $35 I ever spent, ranking just above those tanks of gas that got me to job interviews on time and that one Thai restaurant I really like. All I need is the addition of Hulu Plus support, and then I would have little need to turn to anything else for projecting content onto my TV. But here's the thing, Google's neat little dongle sold out roughly as fast as tickets to a Green Bay Packers home game, and while the Google Play store has Chromecasts in stock now, many of you still haven't gotten your hands on one. We've covered how to turn an Android device into a Chromecast before, but now we've come across a method for turning that old desktop or laptop into one as well. Leapcast is a nifty Python package developed by Github user dz0ny that, after copying and pasting a few lines, can make your PC a media-streaming machine. Er, assuming it doesn't do that already.

Does It Work?

There are some caveats to get out of the way upfront. Leapcast doesn't work with Netflix or other protected content. I was able to detect my computer using Google Music, but it failed to play most of the songs I attempted to stream. Notice in the screenshot to the left, though, that Leapcast automatically assigned a name to the Ubuntu box I installed it on.

Leapcast2 Leapcast3

My luck changed completely when I fired up the YouTube app. It streamed like a champ, sending Motorola's "Lazy Phone" ad to an old beat-up laptop with all the pep of a device half its age. The thing is four years old at this point, and consumer PCs age at least twice as fast as dogs.

Leapcast5

Yes, the T-key is missing from the keyboard. There are quite a few essential words out there that use the letter "T," and you don't really appreciate something until it's gone.

Anyways, that could be any old YouTube video playing natively on my laptop. Here's a screen of my phone at the time this was streaming.

Leapcast1

Lastly, we have the familiar Chromecast screen that pops up once content stops playing.

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For the time being, Leapcast is best used for streaming YouTube - which, admittedly, your PC can already do. But hey, we're not tinkering with this because it's practical, we're doing this simply because we can. Now that we have our expectations set appropriately low, here's how you can get Leapcast up and running on your own machine.

How To Set It Up

The steps are largely the same across the three operating systems. In each instance you must first install Python, install git, pull down the Leapcast packages, and enter a specific command that functions as the on-switch. You can find detailed instructions for all three platforms here.

Should You Use It?

If you found CheapCast to be too intimidating or buggy, don't expect anything more from Leapcast. This is more difficult to setup, and the results aren't nearly as satisfying. It's cool to tinker with for a few moments, and it might even be useful if your desktop setup happens to have a gorgeous display and awesome sound, but even then, the functionality is limited. Nothing about using Leapcast is a casual experience, including turning it on.

But this isn't an app of any kind, it's a bit of working code that the developer was nice enough to share. It doesn't make lofty promises, and it delivers on what it says.

Via: Compixels.com

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. He now lives in the City of Bridges, adjusting to the presence of actual snow. His phone of choice is the HTC One.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    This came up in my searches for a Windows app to beam YouTube videos from my laptop or tablet to a nearby desktop with a much larger screen. And for that - it's great and works really well.

    Installing Leapcast is not uber user-friendly, and ideally I want to create a batch file that starts it with Windows, but it's a decent solution. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with Netflix, but it's a lot better than using a remote desktop or for the same scenario.

    A proper DLNA solution is more complicated and doesn't work as seamlessly with YouTube's Cast button, which I already have on all my computers and Android devices. I think we're on the right track with Chromecasting, just need everything to work with everything across all OSes now.

    • infogulch

      I wonder if the raspberry pi would be powerful enough. It matches the chromecast price almost perfectly, though without the wireless.

      • Niall Murray

        you could run android in conjunction with cheapcast on the RasberryPI?

      • blahmoomoo

        XBMC on Raspberry Pi already works with full 1080p YouTube videos, so I don't see why not. I don't know if Python supports hardware accelerated video on the Pi, but it probably does.

        Although, I already do this with XBMC to some extent. I just put everything I want to watch into my watch later list and bring it up in XBMC. Not as quick as tap to play, but it's really good when I often have several videos I want to watch, but not necessarily immediately.

        I don't think there's a Google Music plugin for XBMC though. And definitely no Netflix.

  • Me

    I have the same "old beat-up laptop" here LOL
    Mine has a not-working pipe/backlash key, and you can imagine how it can be anoying to write code without that ;-)

  • William Trewinnard

    You can already do this using the YouTube app by going to YouTube.com/leanback and connecting your device. It used to work with the dedicated YouTube remote app but now it works straight from the regular YouTube app just like chromecast.

    • Nathan Borup

      nice discovery! I am totally going to be youtubing all day

      • William Trewinnard

        It works really well. I haven't used chromecast but I think the interface is different. It almost looks like the landing page for a YouTube connected TV (again I don't know, I haven't got one) , definitely not meant for use on a laptop. You can even queue and everything.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I'll be damned - I had no idea that's how it worked nowadays. This is fantastic. YouTube-specific, of course, but I just logged in and paired my laptop and Nexus 7 no problem, and now it's in the list. The only downside is I still have to manually open up Chrome and go to Leanback, and I can't fullscreen without touching the desktop, but it's a pretty good solution nonetheless.

      • William Trewinnard

        My only suggestion is you could do it through unified remote. Suprised you hadn't tried the YouTube remote app Google have. It's kind of pointless now it's built into the regular app but it's been around for >2 years.

  • Roh_Mish

    I am not able to install it. pip is creating problems. will try on my other laptop with Ubuntu. Everything is installed there already.( twisted framework is no longer required. btw)

  • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

    youtube.com/tv FTW

  • therealbiglou

    I prefer Media Center Cast which is largely the same thing but with a MUCH easier setup (just double click the installer) and it integrates with Windows Media Center. Same thing with this, though, you can really only do Google Play and Youtube.

    http://1geek1tool.com/media-center-cast/

    • http://jondeutsch.com Jon Deutsch

      Latest beta of this tool includes support for Chrome tab-casting! And the dev did a great job making it very easy to setup and use. I think Media Center Cast is a far superior solution, and it even works without Windows Media Center (to an extent).

    • atlouiedog

      I hadn't seen this. Thanks! I already use Media Center as a DVR so this is great.

  • skeeterfood

    Another option is the Cast to UPnP/DLNA app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bubblesoft.android.upnpcast which presents all UPnP/DLNA devices on your network as Chromecasts. Works great with JRiver Mediacenter http://www.jriver.com/ running on a HTPC connected to a whole house audio system :-) This does proxy all Google Play Music mp3s through the device running the app, though it doesn't seem to impact my N7s battery that much.