The $49 Google Chromecast dongle is able to stream from your smartphone, tablet or computer to your HDMI-equipped TV or projector via your Wi-Fi-equipped home network.
The HDMI specification includes HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) functionality, typically presented by equipment manufacturers under their own marketing names like Anynet+, VIERA Link, BRAVIA Link and REGZA Link. Here, this allows for “one-touch start” where a Blu-Ray player or similar device wakes up the TV and, where applicable, home-theatre amplifier, and selects the input it is connected to while the source device prepares to play. Similarly, it allows for “one remote control” operation of multiple video devices such as to use your TV’s remote control to navigate the menus on a DVD that is in a separate Blu-Ray player that is connected to the TV, another way to simplify how your AV setup is operated.
The Google Chromecast had a basic level of HDMI-CEC functionality where it can wake up your HDMI-CEC-capable TV and amplifier and select the input it is connected to if you start streaming through the Chromecast with your phone or computer. This reduced the confusion associated with operating it somewhat.
But, thanks to a new firmware update, you can start and stop your Chromecast content using the play and pause buttons on your TV’s remote control. This includes the ability to pause content using the TV’s remote control and resume it with the device you are streaming it from or vice versa. This can come in handy where you just want to use the device nearest to you to pause it or get it going quickly.
Google could see more potential with HDMI-CEC and the Chromecast. For eample, they could exploit the remote control’s D-Pad as a way of navigating onscreen menus or “paging through” photos in a collection for example. It could also give the likes of Apple something to worry about as HDMI-CEC becomes a desireable feature for platform-based set-top devices.