We consume media because it relaxes, inspires and educates us. To this end, we may choose to watch a sports game, listen to an audio book or follow a cooking show. This is obvious, but the somewhat shocking part is that the average American with a smartphone and internet will spend around 8 – 15 hours a day consuming media and is likely to do so on a number of devices such as a smartphone, laptop, tablet and TV.
Clearly, we need a lot of relaxation! But why so many devices?
The fact is that we are not entirely in control of what it is we consume for our edification. We are in fact paying the cable company, or other traditional TV and radio channels, to select our programming and then subjecting ourselves to something that we may not find particularly entertaining. In addition, many of the popular shows are moving away from cable and being made available exclusively to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.
This is probably why a 2015 Deloitte report found that more than half of Americans will watch their series or movies via streaming services instead of cable, at least once a month. What’s more is that a further 70% will watch more than 5 episodes of a series in a row – something we like to call binge-watching.
Imagine how much richer your life would be if you were placed in control of the exact shows you wanted to watch, or music you wanted to listen to, and could do so at the time it suited you. Imagine not having to settle for an hour of reality TV when what you really need is 3 hours of your favourite series. And better yet, not wasting time and money watching commercials about stuff you don’t want or need!
Now, imagine controlling all of this hand picked media with one very handy device of your choosing. A device you’re already spending a lot of money and time on and that you probably can’t live without.
Hint: It’s in your pocket and makes it really simple to join the cord cutting revolution!
Your smartphone is the logical device to use for all your media consumption. It lets you listen to the music you stream via Spotify, view the photos you took using your phone, Skype with your relatives and of course, watch all the YouTube videos you want.
And, if you’ve already cut the cord to traditional TV and radio and moved over to a service such as Netflix, it also offers you on-demand content for months.
But it doesn’t always let you do this on the scale you want to, and a 4.7 inch screen doesn’t make for great family viewing. It probably also doesn’t have quite enough volume and bass to get your party going.
What it does allow you to do, however, is wirelessly cast or stream to your 50 inch TV and plug into some mean sound using a media streaming device such as the Roku 4 Streaming Media Player, the Western Digital TV Live Streaming Media Player, Apple TV or Google Chromecast.
And, that will allow you to stream your favourite show or home video from your small smartphone screen, to your TV screen, creating an intimate family event everyone can partake in. Add some speakers to the setup (more about that later) and you could transform your living room into a man cave, mini theatre experience for your movie evenings, or house party with personalised streaming playlists.
Here’s more information on the cord cutting trend and how you can join it:
What you can do with your Smartphone and Google Chromecast
If you’re not familiar with Google Chromecast yet, it’s a small media streaming device (the size of a pen drive) that discretely plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and provides you with hours of entertainment.
Instead of storing your content like an external media drive, it opens up a world of cloud based content from a variety of sources such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, YouTube, Spotify and of course, Google’s very own entertainment hub, the Google Play Store.
In order to access this wide variety of on-demand media, you simply need to connect your Google Chromecast device to the internet (either via WiFi or an ethernet cable), download the Google Home app on your smartphone (you can also use your tablet or laptop) and pair the two devices.
Then use your smartphone to access your choice content and play in on your TV. If your content is not in the cloud, but on your device (we’re talking photos, presentations, videos and even video calls with the family abroad) you can cast or project it to your TV using the same app.
It goes without saying then, that apart from using your phone as the content source, you also use it as your remote – controlling both the content and the volume. The disadvantage here is that it really chews your battery and doesn’t work as well with non-android phones, ie iPhone.
Controlling the volume with your phone is pretty handy though, and brings us to the audio options you can add to your Google Chromecast setup.
Another option is to stream your audio entertainment directly from your phone to a Chromecast built-in speaker and bypass the TV. Here you’ll be able to choose from a number of big-name Chromecast built-in speakers, such as Sony, Philips, Bang & Olufsen and Vision.
Because these speakers are wireless, they’re great for travelling and the fact that they stream via WiFi as opposed to Bluetooth means you can connect multiple devices to the same speaker at the same time. This allows you to take your audiobooks on holiday and have the whole family listen to them from any room in the house; take some relaxing Sunday afternoon music to your picnic, or DJ for your friend’s party. It also allows you to switch up your media consumption from any room in the house, so not everybody needs to listen to the same music if they don’t want to!
And if you really want to blow your own mind and that of your guests, you can opt for Google Home or Amazon Echo voice-activated speakers. These open up a whole new dimension in content curation and interactions, as it not only allows you to stream music directly to the speaker, but also serves as a voice activated search engine (don’t you just love “OK Google”!?) and smart home controller.
Here’s a handy video that tells you everything you need to know about Google Chromecast setup and version 2:
Most of these media streaming devices are continually updated for your viewing pleasure. For example, Google Chromecast version 2, Ultra, last year saw the addition of new features such as an ethernet adaptor, the above mentioned speaker setup, and a couple of basic games.
A large change they made to combat one of the few advantages traditional cable still holds over media streaming devices, is its adaptive antenna system which uses three different WiFi antenna to give you the best possible quality viewing and minimum amount of buffering. A further improvement was the entertainment hub that allows you to access all your streamed content from a single interface.
Although this sounds fantastic, this type of fast moving technology will keep ageing. You may spend some cash on the latest version today, and find out an even better version or equally good competitor released a month later, making it frustratingly obvious how far behind your version now is.
What it also means is that media streaming devices are definitely the way forward if you’re looking to cut the cord and take control of your media consumption since ‘on-demand’ everything is the new way of life.