It launched in the U.S. last summer, and now Google’s Chromecast is finally available at Best Buy stores in Canada.

The small device resembles a USB thumb drive, and plugs into any TV’s HDMI port. Following a short (about 10 minutes) setup process, you can begin to “cast” content from a mobile device or computer over your home’s Wi-Fi network to the big screen TV. It’s super-easy, and super affordable, too.

There is one caveat: you can’t stream everything. Chromecast only works with content from compatible apps, and the Google Chrome browser. The good news is that in Canada, the list of apps that work with Chromecast is quickly growing, and already includes some of the most popular services like Netflix, Crackle, YouTube, and Songza.

What’s more, considering that most content either is, or can be, placed in the cloud, there’s little you won’t be able to stream from the Chrome Web browser on both Windows and Mac computers as well as, of course, Chromebooks. So while you can’t stream pics directly from your iPhone’s photo library, for example, you can display them on the TV from Facebook opened up in your Web browser, or from a photo sharing Website like Flickr or Shutterfly.

Once content is casted to the TV, which is accomplished by selecting a tiny icon at the top, right of the app or browser (similar to the Apple TV/AirPlay button), you can control playback of videos from the mobile device, including play, pause, and rewind and fast forward. You can also navigate away from the app and continue sending e-mails from your phone, or surfing the Web. With Chrome on the computer, you can open a separate browser window and work on something else while content from the previous window continues to play on the big screen TV.  To switch to display content from the new tab, just select that same tiny icon in the new window and playback will follow.

Some tech-savvy folks might feel that the Chromecast is redundant. After all, you can accomplish pretty well everything it does with devices like the Apple TV, AirPlay, DLNA, and USB thumb drives (many of the latest TVs have ports so you can plug right in). Then, of course, there are smart TVs, which afford access to many of the same services built right in. But when I think of the nominal price of the Chromecast, and how easy it is to get a YouTube video up on the screen after the initial setup, it’s hard to argue that there isn’t a market for this.

My father immediately comes to mind as an ideal candidate. All he really wants to do is cast YouTube videos to his television screen. It’s easy to justify purchasing an affordable device like the Chromecast even if it’s just for that basic function.

There’s another advantage with the Chromecast that can’t be ignored: you can bring it with you and connect it at a friend’s house, at the office, or in a hotel room, to cast content there. All you need is the location’s Wi-Fi password, the Chromecast app, and an accessible HDMI port on the TV and power outlet.

Streaming content continues to grow in popularity. And devices like the Chromecast will serve a useful purpose for customers seeking an easy way to get content on their non-smart big screen TVs, but don’t want to go through a lengthy setup process, or add yet another device to the already jam-packed equipment rack.

Check out the Google’s Chromecast online and at Best Buy stores in Canada.


Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.