Canadian Netflix and YouTube users looking for a cheap and easy way to stream content on their big screen TVs will finally be able to buy a "Canada-compatible" version of Google's Chromecast device starting on Wednesday.
Launched in the U.S. last July, the small $39 gadget plugs into a TV's HDMI port and is powered either through a TV's USB connection or by plugging into an electrical outlet. That makes it cheaper and simpler than many other setups for streaming internet video to a TV, which typically involve plugging additional cords and devices, such as computers or gaming consoles, into the TV.
Chromecast does require content to be streamed from a smartphone, tablet or laptop or desktop computer. However, Google says that unlike many other streaming devices, Chromecast allows you to multitask on those devices while streaming to the TV.
- Is Google Chromecast the future of TV?
- Hear CBC technology columnist Jesse Hirsh's take on Chromecast in 2013.
The Chromecast doesn't come with a remote. Instead, users control streaming content on their TV with phone or tablet apps or via the Google Chrome web browser on a computer.
"I think what's really resonated with consumers is using their personal devices as a controller. That's something that we bet on, and we've seen that bet come to fruition," said Chromecast product manager Raunaq Shah during a media preview in Toronto on Tuesday.
The Chromecast quickly sold out after it was first released in the U.S. and continued to be tough to find in stores.
Shah said that won't be a problem with the Canadian launch and consumers should have no issues purchasing one through Amazon.ca or the Google Play store.
"It will be easy to get," he said, adding that Google also hopes to sell the Chromecast through some Canadian retail stores, allowing people to walk in and buy one.
"We're working with a number of (companies) trying to get more partners on board as soon as we can."
According to the public relations firm National, since the launch of the Canada-compatible model yesterday evening, Chromecast has become the number one bestseller in electronics on Amazon.ca.
No free Netflix
While the Chromecast was first launched in the U.S. with a coupon for three free months of Netflix, that offer won't be available in Canada.
Users can also stream Google Play purchases onto their TV with the Chromecast, watch music videos through Vevo, and listen to music via Songza. Another feature — which is currently in beta, so Google doesn't promise it'll work perfectly — allows users to beam the content of any Chrome tab onto a TV.
Google recently released a software development kit that allows more programmers to tap into the device and the company said more than 3,000 have signed up in about a month.
"It's not a couple of lines of code, but it's not something that's onerous on developers at all," Shah said.
According to Google spokeswoman Wendy Bairos, Chromecast previously showed up on Amazon.ca, but customers could not finalize the purchase. Some CBC commenters, however, say they managed to purchase the device on Amazon.ca several months ago.