Google has finally launched its media streaming device Chromecast in India, about 18 months after its global debut. The device is priced at Rs 2,999 and will be available on Google Play, Snapdeal and select Airtel stores across India.

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Airtel Inferno? The Airtel partnership is interesting considering that the telco was piloting a Chromecast clone Inferno in Gurgaon few months back. This was powered by TV streaming startup Teewe and the telco was offering the device at a subsidized rate of Rs 500 for Airtel Broadband users in Gurgaon. However, we noticed that the Inferno site has now been pulled, and the Android app, published by Teewe hasn’t been updated for couple of months. So its possible that Airtel has ended the pilot and opted for Chromecast instead.

Interestingly, Airtel is also offering 60 GB free data for new & existing Airtel Broadband consumers with the purchase of Chromecast while Eros is offering two months free premium subscription of Eros Now.

For the uninitiated, Chromecast allows users to wirelessly stream online content (videos, music, photos) from their phones, tablets and laptops to the television over WiFi, It also allows users to stream local content from their Android phones and tablets running on Android 4.4.2 ‘KitKat‘ and later. This was essentially Google’s answer to Apple’s AirPlay technology, although Chromecast has cross platform capabilities with support for Android, iOS, Mac and Windows desktop.

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Is Chromecast worth buying?

I have been using a Chromecast for more than a year now and I am sold on this. One thing that has always struck me is its simplicity and how easy it is to setup and start streaming content to my television almost instantly. The process involves plugging the Chromecast to the television’s HDMI port, connecting it to a Wi-Fi network and opening  YouTube or any other mobile app that supports Chromecast and start streaming by tapping on the cast button at the top right of the screen.

On desktops, it works through a Chrome extension, allowing users to cast any specific Chrome tab. Media center apps like Plex also offer Chromecast support. That being said, you need to have an Internet connection with decent speeds (more than 2 Mbps) to stream online content.

Over the past year, the Chromecast app ecosystem has also grown significantly, following the release of Google Cast SDK in February this year. Google claims that Chromecast supports hundreds of apps in India, including video streaming services like Spuul, Eros Now and YuppTV. However, I feel that the local content and app ecosystem still needs some work in terms of variety and hopefully this launch will pave the way for local content providers to add Chromecast support for their respective services.

Hence, if you are looking for a low-cost media streaming device and also watch a lot of online content (especially YouTube videos), Chromecast could be a worthy purchase.  Other players in this segment include Teewe that is also incidentally a Snapdeal exclusive and priced at Rs 1,999. Mozilla is also launching a Firefox OS-based streaming stick Matchstick in January 2015, although its not clear as to whether the company plans to roll it out to India.