I consider Bluetooth to be pretty magical. You plop into your car, it connects to your phone — through the air(!) — and you can answer calls, play music, and get directions through your car stereo. Or you can use it to connect to your home stereo and play a podcast — beamed through the wall to your receiver(!) — while you cook. Or you can connect your fitness tracker on your wrist to your phone in you pocket(!) and track your activity. Bluetooth is amazing!
So when Google announced the Chromecast Audio and that it was BETTER than Bluetooth, I was pretty jazzed. I love my first generation Chromecast — it’s a great way to beam Hulu and YouTube videos to your TV. If I could get that same slickness on my stereo? Sold.
I don’t really like Bluetooth pairing on my stereo. It’s clunky. I always start playing something, then remember to pair. Then I have to bounce over to the settings, get the thing to connect, back to the music app, then play. Android 5.0 improved the experience a lot by even better integrating the controls into the pull-down tray, but it’s still not as slick as Chromecast. The Chromecast experience is much more slick — because you connect from within the app — just click the Chromecast icon.
So far, so Chromecast. Much Chromecast. Must buy.
But there’s a deal-breaker, at least for me: You can’t play local music.
And maybe I should have known that. The Chromecast doesn’t exactly connect to your phone — your phone acts as its remote control. So when you try to play a local song, it can’t just grab it and play it, because it’s connected to the internet, not to its remote. I think that’s lame. To play a song I have right here in my pocket, I have to download it from the internet every damn time … after I upload my entire collection so I can access it. Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth. Frustrating. And if you have some sweet, off-the-grid cabin, and you were hoping to multi-room some music? Forget it. But still invite me over, yeah?
So I’m back to Bluetooth, my one true love.
And you might love this thing. Love Spotify or Pandora? This is the gadget for you. Same if you have your music uploaded to Google Play. This is designed for you. It’s not for me.
Win This Chromecast
I’m back to Bluetooth, but you can win this guy, a slighly-used Chromecast Audio. Just sign up for our email list and you’ll be entered. We’ll select a winner from our subscribers on March 15th. Full rules here (main one is that you be in the US). Everybody already subscribed is included.
Sign up here to win