According to a report from the LA Times, Google has confirmed today that it is ending the three months of free Netflix service that it launched as a promotion with its new $35 Chromecast streaming device yesterday. Reports of the device selling out at various retailers and shipping times being pushed back on Google Play started circling this morning, and Google says the promotion has ended due to the overwhelming demand:
“Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion (which was available in limited quantities) is no longer available,” Google told The Times in a statement.
Reviews for the Chromecast have been fairly positive, with most agreeing the price point will be its biggest differentiator. However, the free Netflix promotion, almost a $30 value, was certainly helping to drive a lot of the early demand for the $35 device. A selection of reviews, good and bad, are below:
For music fans, Chromecast, for all its charm and inexpensive allure, still leaves Google well behind its competitor Apple, when it comes to wireless music playback in the home, and even further behind wireless music specialist Sonos.
Perhaps most interesting of all, we got to try a new beta feature of Chrome that lets you stream the contents of a web browser tab itself to your TV via the Chromecast. It’s not particularly impressive yet: scrolling doesn’t come close to keeping up with your finger, and there’s visible compression artifacts whenever there’s rapid motion: it’s a lot like streaming game services like OnLive and Gaikai, but with a lot more delay. Google says it uses WebRTC, so it’s basically online video chat repurposed to display anything you can see in a browser frame. Video plays with only a bit of chop and stutter, and lips don’t quite sync up with the audio, which could be maddening for some. Don’t expect this to be a surefire solution for watching Hulu without a subscription.
Google failed to point out one necessary component of the Chromecast dongle: a microUSB power cord that must be plugged in at all times in order for the device to work. This is disseminated in the faintest of gray text on the more comprehensive product detail page.
That last bit is the biggest limitation I can see from the initial announcement — the Chromecast only supports four apps at launch. That puts it well behind established players like Roku and Apple TV, and limited functionality was one of the major knocks against the ill-fated Nexus Q.
But expect pushback. [Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president for Chrome and Android], said that media companies had the ability to block their content from Chromecast, which major broadcast networks did with Google TV. Chromecast is hardly the final stop on the road to Internet-connected TVs that allow users to watch whatever they want whenever they want on any device they want. Instead, it is one more offering in an already fractured market.
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