The Chromecast may be a popular wireless streaming HDMI dongle today however it was PLAiR that first launched this type of device earlier this year for $99. The problem is that Google’s device costs far less at only $35 which soon made people forget about getting the PLAiR.
Today PLAiR has revealed the PLAiR 2 dongle which costs only $49 and comes with features not found in the Chromecast such as the ability to run any app from the Google Play Store or Amazon App Store. The device plugs into the HDMI port of your TV set and has a 1 GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Consumers will be able to use their Android or iOS smartphone to launch apps and control media playback. This device however does not stream content coming from your mobile device. Streaming is being handled by apps on the device itself.
Setting up the device is pretty much straightforward. Just connect the PLAiR 2 to the HDMI port of your TV then plug in its microUSB power cord. You will then have to load the companion app which will then prompt you to log the device to your home wireless network. Once this is done it will then switch to remote mode and you will see the PLAiR home screen on your TV display. Apps are displayed in a cover flow format and navigation is made by swipes, taps, and through a virtual touchpad on your mobile device.
One of the main issues faced by people who have tried this device is that using the remote feature may be difficult sometimes. Swipes often failed to register while scrolling up or down was a hit or miss affair. The device also took more time to buffer video compared to Chromecast. While this issues are mostly present when playing video it wasn’t present when playing games such as Angry Birds.
The PLAiR 2 may cost $14 more than the Chromecast but it comes with more features such as the ability to run any Android app or game. Although there’s work to be done on its video streaming feature the company says that it’s currently working on improving the user experience.