At just $35, the Chromecast is an incredibly affordable media streaming device with support for quite a few services including Hulu, Netflix, and Pandora. It might not give you a full Android experience in the way an Android set-top box would, but it’s also considerably cheaper.
The Chromecast is a real game-changer, and for rival devices to compete they’re going to need to up their game. Now it looks like video streaming startup PLAiR is attempting to do just that.
The idea of PLAiR 2 is simple: it’s about creating a Chromecast-like device that also has the power of actual Android apps on-board.
The company had previously released a streaming device named PLAiR just months before the Chromecast arrived. The original device was designed to compete against products like Google TV and Apple TV, and was priced at a steep $99.
As soon as Chromecast touched down, the startup realized something new was needed if they wanted to stay competitive, and so the PLAiR 2 was born.
The idea of PLAiR 2 is simple: it’s about creating a Chromecast-like device that also has the power of actual Android apps on-board. That means the device can do a lot more than simply listen to music and watch movies or television. Besides all your favorite Android media apps, you can also install some light games and browse the web from the PLAiR 2. The whole experience is then controlled remotely by your phone or tablet.
Under the hood, the media dongle has a 1GHz ARM CPU, 1GB RAM, a built-in GPU compatible with 1080p streaming, and a 802.11n wireless technology.
While ultra-cheap Android dongles aren’t exactly new, PLAiR hopes to set itself apart by creating a refined UI that is designed with TVs in mind. This means you get something that works more like a typical Smart TV, but has true Android app support.
Is PLAiR’s approach better than Chromecast? Honestly, no.
For one thing, it’s relying on Android and full Android apps such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, instead of using the Chromecast’s more lightweight approach. That likely means that more stress is being put on the PLAiR’s hardware, which could end up resulting in a less than perfect experience considering the device’s modest specs.
On the other hand, the PLAiR 2 is a pretty cool idea and is actually competitively priced against the Chromecast at just $49. Sure, that’s $14 more, but you also get the support of many more apps and services.
For now, the PLAiR 2 might be a worthwhile invest if you don’t mind trying something new.
Long-term, Chromecast will continue to evolve and add more apps, and could easily end up surpasssing the PLAiR in terms of app support and overall performance. With Google reportedly preparing to push forward with its Android TV brand, it also remains unclear whether a small startup like PLAiR will really have what it takes to stand up to a potential army of new devices from better known brands.
If you are interested in picking up the PLAiR 2, you can grab it now from several online retailers including NewEgg. Keep in mind it won’t actually ship until the 8th of November, however.
What do you think, interested in the idea of the PLAiR 2, or would you rather stick to a device from a more proven brand, such as the Chromecast?