[toc] The Chromecast was the big surprise that Google launched alongside the updated Nexus 7, Android 4.3 and the Google Play Text Books and Gaming service.
Since the launch, we’ve looked on with jealousy as consumers and tech sites in the US have purchased them, played with them, reviewed them and pretty much come to the conclusion that for US$35, they’re just about the best thing since sliced bread.
We’re not able to get any information about an international release date for the Chromecast from Google as yet – the closest we have to an eta is a quote from Google which says it will be launches ‘as soon as possible’.
The supply chain for the Chromecast continues to be erratic, stock in US stores both physical and online comes and goes extremely quickly — the initial sales figures for the Chromecast through Amazon online sales alone is rumoured to be 700,000 units on day one. All of this leads to the conclusion that it may be quite a while before we begin seeing the Chromecast here in Australia.
So, how can you get one?
Current availability may vary by retailer.
First to get an idea of the size of the package that the Chromecast is delivered in, here are some vital statistics, remember the US deals in imperial measurements :
- Weight: 1.1 ounces/0.06 pounds.
- Measurements: 2.8×1.4×0.5 inches.
For starters, unless you know someone in the US, who can either let you ship a Chromecast to their US mailing address or can physically go into a store to pick one up you can forget Best Buy. Their terms and conditions state that they will not ship outside the US and according to their site ‘Best Buy does not ship to known freight forwarders, and orders to such will be canceled’.
Amazon, currently has the Chromecast listed as available for order on their website, but with a 2-3 month wait for shipping. The bonus is that they offer free shipping….within the US and they won’t ship to a non-US address, unless you want to try your luck with an Amazon Merchant, who will happily charge you nearly double the retail price plus a sizeable shipping charge on top to get it to Australia.
Google Play is actually stating that they have a 2-3 week delay on shipping the Chromecast and they too like Amazon are currently offering free shipping to addresses in the US. Unfortunately, what you’ll note if you click the link to view the Chromecast on Google Play, the status of the Chromecast is ‘Chromecast is not available in your country’.
So, where to from here?
Well, the best place is actually shipping forwarders. I’ve dealt with two of these – ComGateway and ShipItTo – both offer services where they will actually purchase items for you and then ship them to you but there is a premium attached. Probably the best method is to simply purchase the item and ship it to a virtual address, which being based in Oregon means both of them do it sans Sales Tax.
To use ShipItTo the company will charge you an $8.50 Premium + Delivery to be an intermediary for a single one-off package, or you can sign up for a more regular service – $10 per month or $50 per year. According to their Calculator site, the Chromecast will cost US$27.57 + the US$35 for the Chromecast + ShipItTo charges to get it to you via the fastest method – TNT Express – or $US1.17 + US$35 for the Chromecast + ShipItTo charges to ship by the slowest method.
The other option is ComGateway, who offer a service with no per-package premium. They simply advise you of the cost of either re-packaging the device before shipping it to you. ComGateway offer a LiveQuote service – only available during business hours in the US – which will advise you of the costs of shipping the Chromecast to you, if you attempt to use the LiveQuote service outside of business hours the quote will be emailed to you on the next business day.
So, how do you order? Well, happily Amazon will simply allow you to order and send the Chromecast to your Virtual Address at your preferred shipping forwarder. Obviously you’ll need an Amazon account for this part of the process, if you haven’t got one, simply sign up and you’re good to go.
Google Play on the other hand won’t let you, Google believes in market restriction by country, so you’ll need to use a VPN to access the Google Play Store and you’ll also need to change your Google Wallet account to reflect a US based billing address.
So, first up change your Google Wallet billing address. If you’ve already registered with a shipping forwarder you’ll have your own personal US based address. Simply head over to the Google Wallet page and sign in. Then click on Payment Methods on the left hand side and then edit your payment method – Credit Card – You will need to click Add new address and then enter your details so that the address reflects the one from the Shipping Forwarder, you’ll also need the phone # they give to you as well.
Once this is complete you’ll need to know about VPNs. A VPN is essentially a tunnel that transports your data through the internet so that the server on the other end will see your data as coming from a US based – or other country – IP Address allowing you to use Geo-Blocked services.
Hotspot Shield is probably amongst the most well known of the free VPN services, the service is pretty easy to use, simply head to the Hotspot Shield website and choose either an ad-supported but free service or a 7-Day Trial.
Once you’ve downloaded the client on your PC, set it up – there are a number of toolbars it will want to install if you let install the default options, best to select ‘Custom’ -, once you’ve installed the software, you will be asked to setup an account. Setup your account and select the machine you wish to use and you should be right to continue/
Once you’re setup, you can then connect the VPN to the US from the selectable drop down menu and you’ll be able to surf to US websites.
TunnelBear is another great option, they offer VPN clients for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android on their download page. They have a slightly limited service, a basic ‘free’ service offers 500MB per month with the option to get a free 1GB of data by tweeting a promo for them, if you need more data for say Netflix etc then look at the monthly or yearly options on their pricing page.
Once you’ve downloaded the installer and run it, you’ll have to setup an account and install the virtual network adapter. Once this is done though you simply select the country you want to tunnel through (you’ll need to select the US) and then activate the service from the networks folder.
If you’re a ChromeOS user, Chris has actually written a great how-to guide on Auschrome on how to go about setting up Tunnel Bear for your ChromeOS device.
Once your VPN is established and your Google Wallet account has the correct Shipping Forwarder details, you should be right to point your browser to the Google Play Store and order your Chromecast.
If all of the above just sounds like way too much effort, then your final resort, is of course the open market and that pretty much means ebay. With prices varying from the US$60 mark up to over US$100 depending on availability and of course whether the Chromecast comes with a Netflix voucher, the ebay vendors have gone to town on the Chromecast pricing, preying on the international demand for the Chromecast. Still, if you can’t get it any other way, then ebay is your next option.
Now, you’re good with the theory you can now order pretty much anything from the US Google Play Store including the new Nexus 7 or if you want to go the whole hog – a Chromebook Pixel. Bear in mind though, that warranty on the various items will differ. The Chromecast seems like a great device, especially for use with YouTube, an official release would be preferred but Google is very tight lipped on anything to do with local release information, so until we hear more, you may want to try ordering from US.