Now that we know what the Google Chromecast is, let us do a direct comparison with an Android mini PC. The Chromecast is of course not a direct competitor of the Android mini PC but are there circumstances where it is a better idea to get the Chromecast instead of an Android TV stick? We look at some reasons why people buy an Android mini PC and see if a Chromecast will do instead.

Price

A lot of people are talking about the Google Chromecast’s killer price. The Chromecast seems like an attractive proposition as it brings online content to your TV in an easy way at only $35. Compared to the quad-core Android mini PCs that are on the market right now, the Chromecast may seem like a great bargain. However, you can actually pick up a slightly older dual-core RK3066 Android mini PC for about $40-$45 on Amazon. If you are willing to get an original MK802, they are still available for under $30.

The MK802 may be a little long behind the tooth but with a proper custom ROM, it can do all that the Chromecast can do and more. Fork out a little more for an RK3066 dual-core model and you got yourself a very capable mini computer that is tons better than a basic MK802.

VERDICT: Tie

Google Chromecast vs Android Mini PC

Ease of use

The Google Chromecast uses the original app’s interface for transferring the content to the TV and for controlling it as well. The Android mini PC uses the app’s interface as well but running on the TV. Android mini PC users usually make use of a keyboard/mouse combo to control it. It is possible to use an app that allows a connected Android device to be used as a remote. In this regard, an Android mini PC functions very much like Chromecast.

However, the Google Chromecast has 2 big advantages. It requires no extra setup to use your phone to control Chromecast as that is the default control plus it supports multiple platforms including iOS devices. Judging from the demonstration videos I have seen so far, Chromecast beats out an Android mini PC for ease of use.

VERDICT: Chromecast wins

Video Streaming

The Google Chromecast is made for video streaming. This is probably the biggest reason to buy a Chromecast. Right now, only YouTube and Netflix officially supports Chromecast but I think it is only a matter of time before other streaming content companies add support for Chromecast on their apps. For now, Chromecast can also support Hulu, HBO Go and other streaming content using the Chrome browser tab projection feature.

Using Chromecast can be a work around to getting certain content on your TV without paying a subscription. For example, Hulu allows you to watch a selection of their content on your laptop for free but that same content is blocked if you try to access it from any device besides your computer. For those who want to watch Hulu on mobile or TV, you need to cough up for a Hulu+ account. With Chromecast, you can cast Hulu from a laptop and Hulu will be none the wiser.

The Android mini PC is pretty good for video streaming as well – when you can get it to work. While the YouTube app generally works fine on all devices, the same cannot be said for Netflix and other apps. Some devices support Netflix but with some bugs while others work just fine. The Android mini PC has more options when it comes to video streaming but it usually requires a lot of tweaking and hair-pulling before it all works out. If you can get XBMC to run properly, you have one of the best online streaming devices.

It is a tough call but I’m going to give this round to the Google Chromecast as well for having online streaming working right out of the box.

VERDICT: Chromecast wins

Video Playback

The Google Chromecast is great for video streaming but what about video playback? What if you just want to kick back, relax and watch something from your video file collection? These has been no mention of this in any of the information I have read so far but it looks like the Chromecast does not have video playback function. First of all, it has no storage add on capability. There is no USB host port or memory card expansion slot. It can of course play a file over the network but I don’t think it has that capability at the moment. I guess this feature can be added on but the Chromecast is not designed to be a media player.

The Android mini PC wins this round, easy.

VERDICT: Android Mini PC wins

Gaming

Again, there is very little info on whether the Google Chromecast can be used for gaming like Apple Airplay. Airplay allows the use of an iPhone or iPad to be used as a controller for playing games or as a second screen to compliment the game. However, this would require Chromecast to transmit and mirror the display on the controlling device. Since Chromecast supports multiple platforms, it is highly unlikely this can be done on the non-Android devices. This is not what the Chromecast is designed for so I am quite sure it will have no gaming capabilities.

Gaming on the Android Mini PC is a mixed affair. For games that support a game controller (like Shadowgun), I would even say that it plays better on the Android mini PC than on an Android phone. Huge screen graphics and no thumbs getting in the way of the action. Games that require touch controls especially multi-touch or motion control usually don’t work at all unless you use your phone as a controller.

Despite its limitations, the Android mini PC still picks up the win here.

VERDICT: Android Mini PC wins

Web Browsing

Currently you can use tab projection to send any tab from the Chrome browser to the Google Chromecast but you cannot actually use it as a web browser. The Chromecast runs on a stripped down version of the Chrome OS so it is possible the browser is in there somewhere and it just needs to be enabled. However, again I believe that the Chromecast is not designed for this and we may never see this feature on the device.

The Android mini PC on the other hand is quite excellent for web browsing especially if you plug in an actual mouse and keyboard instead of an air mouse or a mini wireless keyboard using a touch pad. Using a web browser on the Android mini PC is almost the same experience as using a laptop or desktop computer. The only noticeable difference is that it is a bit slower and you cannot open as many tabs at the same time.

The Android mini PC wins again.

VERDICT: Android Mini PC wins

Google Chromecast vs Android Mini PC: Conclusion

The Google Chromecast has very limited capabilities but what it can do, it does it well. It is probably one of the best and easiest solution for you to watch your favorite online content on your TV. While there are many methods available today that allows you to do this including just hooking your laptop to your TV, Google Chromecast lets you do this effortlessly and in style. Since it can also be controlled using multiple devices (and multi platforms) at the same time, it is a great device when you have a gathering among friends or relatives and you can all take turns controlling the video or music.

If all that you need is a simple device to watch and share online content, Google Chromecast seems like an ideal device. If you want more bang for your buck and don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, the Android mini PC is the device for you.