Some people are calling the EZCast a “cheap Chromecast knockoff”. It certainly is cheap but is it just a “knockoff”? Both are “dongles”, i.e., they both dangle out of an HDMI port and both are similar in size and appearance. In this post we will look at the differences between the two and perhaps help with a buying decision. First of all both gadgets cost less than $50. If any item in that price range is a budget strain for you than perhaps now is not the time to be buying. The EZCast is a few dollars cheaper, but price should not be a consideration.
The EZCast is a screen mirroring gadget. It will mirror the content ( and sound) from a screen on a device to a screen on a TV. What is shown on the small screen of your smartphone or tablet computer is “cast” to the large screen on the TV. The content can be images, videos, music or documents. Except for sounds the content simultaneously displays on the casting device. The EZCast accomplishes its goal by acting as a remote router to which your computing device wirelessly connects. All content and processing necessities, e.g., a connection to a Netflix account, is done by the computer. The gadget only casts the screen. This can be either an advantage or disadvantage depending on your situation. As the dongle is doing little in the way of computer processing, it is tolerant of most anything the computing device can deliver to it.
The Chromecast gadget joins your local network via your router. Apps need to be “Chromecast enabled” in order to play. The enabled apps list currently includes the major service providers including Netflix, Hulu+ and others. The list is growing. The number of video formats supported by the device is limited. Mp4 videos will play without problems. Other formats such as avi, xvid and mkv will need conversion. On a desktop computer playing is accomplished with the assistance of the Chrome web browser and an appropriate add-on. Other video formats can be played with a Chrome web app called Videostream. Videostream usually works well, but when it doesn’t, troubleshooting can be tricky. Videos quickly load into the Chromecast gadget after which the computer screen is not needed. On mobile devices Chrome does not support add-ons but there are other apps, e.g., Realplayer, that are Chromecast enabled. The fact that the screen can be shut off after the video loads is important There will be little drain on the battery during playback.
The setup of both dongles is fairly easy. However, the guide for the EZCast is a somewhat poor translation of Chinese. One must remember that the computer or mobile device must connect to the network generated by the EZCast. The necessary information will be displayed on the TV screen when the gadget is plugged in. The Chromecast must join the existing network. The user will need to enter the password for the network.
So we see that both gadgets have their good points and not so good points and what the end user intends to do with the gadget is very important. Personally, I believe that the installation of the EZCast dongle on my desktop Mac from which I cast videos to a TV not too far away is an improvement over the Chrome/ Videostream arrangement. On the other hand, it would be a poor choice to use on a bedroom TV controlled by a mobile device because of the battery drain.