This Diwali I was visiting my home town and was exploring my dad’s 55” Samsung Smart LED TV which must have costed a bomb. I was also feeling a bit envious in the good way. But when I compare it to my six year old LG LCD TV I felt out dated. Couple of years back I was showing of my Android Smart Box I had purchased to my dad and he had the same look on his face. I know what he must have felt then as men are men and they love their gadgets and cars more than anything in this world. My Android Smart Box is doing good but when I see technologies like DLNA and You Tube video casting, it falls short as it basically runs on a dated dual core processor with one GB RAM. As it is an Android device itself and I cannot connect it like a Smart TV to use my phone to mirror or cast on it. So I had to find a solution which is practical and also cheap as I already have an Android Smart Box and do not want to put more money and add to my already long gadget list and their hanging wires. I started exploring the market to get some cheap but practical alternatives to an expensive Smart TV and got some interesting options
- Cromecast: Probably the cheapest option in the list and is an excellent device for casting You Tube videos to your not so smart TV. There are now more than 200 apps that support Cromecast natively with big names like Netflix, ESPN, All Cast etc. It also supports web browsing in beta on Crome as of now. Ezcast has also developed app for Cromecast and you can now mirror your smart phone and play your local content. This is probably the best option for people who want to have a cheap option to convert their ancient TV into a Smart TV. In US it is selling for USD 35. In India it is unfortunately not available officially and online some dealers are selling it for Rs. 4000 to Rs. 5000. You can ask your friend staying in US to get it for you but then again it will be devoid of any warranty. The Cromecast app is not available in India on Google play store and needs to be installed as a Apk which needs some knowledge of Android and its Apk’s.
- Teewe: This is a product introduced by an India company called Green Mango Man based out of Bangalore. The dongle is supported by an app which you can download from Google play store or App store in your iphone. It supports You Tube streaming from the app installed in you smart phone. It also supports streaming local content from your phone and other devices connected on your Wifi. The app pulls in lot of local content from the net like Bollywood movies and Indian TV series which are freely available on You Tube. It cost Rs. 1999 and is available online on Snapdeal.
- Miracast/Ezcast: Miracast is a technology to mirror your smartphone on to your tv via wifi network. Ezcast is an app to control Miracast devices. Variety dongles are available on various websites and cost from Rs. 1700 upwards. It does not require any native app support like Cromecast, neither it needs any technology like DLNA as it can mirror anything you play on your smart phone. The problem is that you have to keep your phone and on and that drains out battery.
- XBMC: After reviewing the above options I got in touch with my friend in USA to bring Cromecast when she comes to India. In between I also got in touch with Teewe people and got some of my questions addressed. But I was still not convinced to shell out money just to get casting on my TV as my Android Box can do most of the other things. Something in me was telling me to wait and explore more and I got lucky one day as I bumped into XBMC.
Developed in the year 2002 it was first launched an software to run Xbox. Now with the new Xbox 360 range coming in, it no longer supports the software. But the code was forked and was incorporated under the Open Source Platform and made available to developers to develop programs on it. The full form of XBMC is Xbox Media Centre. In the past 12 years this platform has evolved and have now become a force to recon with. This software supports all major OS from windows, Mac, Android, IOS, Linux, Ubuntu etc. It does everything I intended my TV to do like casting You Tube, stream local content from my smart phone and even sharing content between devices and the best part about the whole thing is that it is absolutely free.
For a general users who is not into technology a Cromecast, Miracast or Teewe (In India) is more than sufficient. You can also go with any good Android Smart Box available in the market. Apple fans should go with Apple TV. Android has some premium offerings like Google TV and Amazon Fire HD TV. But if you are a tech bug like me and do not mind exploring stuff and doing R&D then XBMC is the way to go. It will need some getting use to as installing and running it is a bit techie but if you are game for it, it is one heck of a powerful software. There are some Smart Box available in the market running forked XBMC but they are not available in India.
Keep following my blog for more in XBMC. Do like my blog or write your comments and suggestion.