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What is casting: the explanation that everyone understands

Written by:

Wesley Akkerman

All content is written by smart home experts, not AI and robots.

The more media devices you have in your home, the more you are likely to come across the term casting. But what is casting and how does it benefit you? Casting is available on virtually all devices that run or work with software or protocols sourced from the search engine company Google.

What is Casting?

Casting is done via Google Cast. This is a self-developed protocol from Google that is intended for playing audio and video that is streamed over the internet. Casting is done on consumer electronics, such as a television, media player, smartphone or a smart speaker.

The protocol was released in 2013, and since then there are tons of devices and all kinds of applications that support Google Cast. When a device uses Google Cast (or Chromecast) has built in, it is indicated by the term Chromecast built-in (see picture).

Google Cast is therefore the name of the platform, while 'casting' has become a Dutch verb to indicate that you stream content from one device to another. In most cases, it revolves around apps on mobile devices that display content on a TV or player.

These days you don't just have televisions and media players with Chromecast built-in, soundbars, speakers and smart displays also often offer this. If a device does not have a screen and you cannot connect it to a screen, then you are only able to cast audio to such a device.

Chromecast Incredibly
Street: Wesley Akkerman

What is casting: how does it work?

If you ask the question “What is casting?” there are actually two answers, both of which have to do with how the technology works.

We have already explained the first answer a bit in this article. You play media from a source device to a target device, via mobile or web applications. For example, a source device is a smartphone or tablet, while a target device is a television or media player.

Chromecast with Google TV HD

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Stream in full HD. Offer only available for a limited time!
4K Video (60fps)
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Android TV
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Wi-Fi ac (2.4 and 5GHz)

Stream in 4K, offer limited availability.

Via the source device you determine what you watch and you control the playback options (such as pausing, fast-forwarding, etc.). If you receive a call or receive a message in the meantime, you will not see it appear on TV. Such information is managed by another part within a telephone, making it shielded.

Then we have another form of casting. This is done via the Google Chrome browser on your computer, for example. But that can also be done via a modern smartphone. With this form of casting you mirror the image of what you are currently viewing in a tab within the browser.

Street: Wesley Akkerman

You may run into problems during this form of casting. For example, it may happen that you have no image or sound or that certain content is played in lower quality. That is not necessarily a software error, but inherent to the technology.

In most cases, you cast content from your favorite media applications. Consider, for example, the Spotify app, which allows you to directly approach a soundbar. Or a movie you turn on Netflix or Disney Plus. Casting via a browser tab is possible, but is therefore not an ideal situation.

Casting works when both devices (the source and target device) are on the same network. Then they find each other very easily and you can watch and listen without any problems. You can read how to do that exactly in a previously written article.

What is casting: what formats?

What media formats does Google Cast support? That is very useful to know when you want to use it often. The following image formats are supported.

  • APNG
  • BMP
  • GIF
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • WEBP extension

Remember that images can be up to 1280 by 720 pixels (also known as 720p). If they are larger, they will be reduced to a size that Google Cast can handle.

In addition, Cast supports the following media cointainers (a format for audio and video):

  • MP2T
  • MP3
  • MP4
  • OGG
  • WAV
  • WebM

Then it is good to know what kind of audio codes are supported:

  • HE-AAC
  • LC-AAC
  • MP3
  • vorbis
  • WAV (LPCM)
  • FLAC (up to 96kHz/24-bit)
  • Opus: AC-3 (Dolby Digital) and E-AC-3 (EC-3, Dolby Digital Plus)
what is casting
Image: Wesley Akkerman

Then we have a large list of video codecs (for playing videos). We take the available information from the third generation Chromecast, because the earlier versions are often no longer in use. Not all terms used below are equally important to you as an end user, so it is best to pay attention to the maximum output. By this we mean the resolution (1080p or 4k) and the number of frames per second (60fps).

Chromecast 3rd Gen

  • H.264 High Profile, up to 1080p at 60fps
  • VP8 (720p/60fps or 1080p/30fps)

Chromecast Incredibly

  • H.264 High Profile, up to 1080p at 60fps
  • VP8 (4K/30fps)
  • HEVC / H.265 Main and Main10 Profiles, up to 4K at 60fps
  • VP9 Profile 0 and Profile 2 up to 4K at 60fps
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR)
    • Dolby Vision
    • HDR10

Chromecast With Google TV

  • H.264 High Profile, up to 4K at 2K at 30fps
  • HEVC/H.265 Main and Main10 Profiles up to 4K at 2K at 60fps
  • VP9 Profile-2 up to 4K at 2K at 60fps

Google Nest Hub

  • H.264 High Profile up to 720p at 60fps
  • VP9 (720p/60fps)

Google Cast is therefore an extensive platform with which you can cast many types of content. This is not the only casting platform on the market, by the way. For example, Apple has AirPlay and there are also things like Miracast, WiDi and DLNA, which also use source and target devices. A question like “What is casting?” can therefore also refer to those platforms, just as 'app' has become a verb through WhatsApp.

Before you loose a google Chromecast can use, must you install it. There may be problems with the Wi-Fi connection, but they are resolved. Do you use Spotify? That music streaming service also uses of the Google Cast platform. Here you will find a list with applications that all work with Cast.

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Writing about technology since 2006. Whether it's the Chromecast, Chromebook or Google Home, he doesn't turn his hand around for it.

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