Google's new Chromecast lets you watch video from the likes of Netflix and YouTube on the biggest, best screen in your house.
That is nothing you can't already accomplish by running an HDMI cable from a laptop to a TV - but in this case, it's as if the cable were invisible and simultaneously connected to every laptop and iOS and Android phone and tablet in your house. And you can keep the laptop on the coffee table instead of perching it atop a subwoofer or leaving it on the floor next to the set.
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The $35, thumb-sized Chromecast plugs into a TV's HDMI port (its secondary USB cable gets power from a USB port on the set or a wall adapter), then connects to your Wi-Fi network. It plays content from two sources: Android and iOS apps that have been rewritten to link to Chromecast and pages open in Google's Chrome browser.
The first category isn't that interesting today: Almost any "connected" or "smart" TV, DVD or Blu-ray player already has its own Netflix and YouTube apps, leaving Google's Android-only Play Store as the one outlier.