Chromecast is all the rage at the moment in the world of Google, but unfortunately, we’re not able to (easily) get our hands on Google’s $35 streaming media receiver in Australia yet. But since Chromecast is just a software solution built atop Android, some clever developers have come up with ways to stream media from one device to another, using Chromecast’s technology, without having to purchase the device itself. Not everything works yet, but it’s a great start, and it may help to satisfy your curiosity until Google starts selling the real thing here.
Option 1: Cheapcast
Cheapcast runs on Android devices, and is available in beta from the Play Store. It works well, supporting Google Play Music, Video and YouTube streaming to the target device, but the one feature I really want – screen mirroring, isn’t available yet. Sure, it’s cool that you can stream media from one Android device to another, but it would be a whole lot easier just to play the media on the target device natively. The ability to cast to any device though is what makes Chromecast so desirable, and once more applications start incorporating its features, applications like Cheapcast will be incredible.
Option 2: Leapcast
Leapcast runs on a PC (Windows, Linux or Macintosh), and lets you cast media to the Chrome browser installed on your computer. It’s a bit of a hassle to get, since there are no binaries available, you’ll have to compile it from source, but I have absolutely no knowledge of Python, and I (eventually) managed to get it working. This may be slightly more useful at the moment than Cheapcast, since you can set up a media centre PC and stream content to your TV that way through Leapcast, but it still doesn’t support screen (or tab) mirroring.
If you want to compile Leapcast, the instructions on the Github page are really straightforward:
Clone this directory, then run python setup.py develop
In actual fact though, it’s likely to be a bit more trouble than that. You’ll first need to download Python 2.7, a number of other files, and if you’re running Windows, make sure that you install 32-bit versions of Python as well as all dependencies, otherwise you will get compiler errors. In Linux distributions, this can all be done with apt-get, but with Windows and Macintosh, you’ll need to manually install pip and distribute first. Luckily for Windows users, there is a super-handy tutorial here, most of which is still applicable to Mac users as long as you remember to put your slashes around the other way and type ‘./’ before executables.
You can download the source from the project’s Github page.
Let us know if you manage to get Chromecast working, and what you’re using it for in the comments.