Inside The Box: Google Chromecast

It’s hereeeeee!

Thank you, Mr. UPS delivery man! Better late than never!

I must say, the wait was worth it. Who am I kidding? The wait is always worth it! In case any of you were just dying to know what it was I was expecting in the mail – this is it! I ordered the Chromecast the moment I found out it was available for shipment to Canada. Yes yes, I know I could have ordered it off of Amazon or eBay, but there’s always something nice about buying something directly from the manufacturer without feeling like someone’s making a profit off of your desperation and eagerness (other than Google itself, of course).

I decided I would surprise the dear wife with this purchase; we had considered getting one before, but were disappointed when we found out it wasn’t immediately available in Canada upon its release (especially disappointing considering the sweet Netflix deal they had going on for a while there). Upon bounding into the house, bubble-wrapped prize clutched firmly in my grasp, I tore open the top and removed the contents from the dark enclosure in which it lay. I presented it triumphantly to the dear wife, anticipating some level of reciprocity of my already unbearable excitement.

“Did we want that?”
*sigh* Oh well. I tried.
As the dear wife departed for an evening of jovial socializing, my night of fun was just beginning as well – and the only invitees were my tech and a steak knife.

Upon opening the UPS package, I am greeted by a taunting preview of what I am about to encounter (in english and en francais – thanks to our multicultural and obligatorily inclusive nation).

The packaging is not unlike many packaging designs that you will find your tech arriving in: a sleeve/pocket-like outer jacket containing marketing materials, encasing the main vehicle for the product.
Jacket: Rear marketing materials (Man Of Steel was actually pretty good)
Jacket: Spine marketing materials (“Easy as 1, 2, 3!”)

 

We see the classic circular tape-like seal holding the contents within the aforementioned jacket – this is where the last element of the troika comes into play.
Adult supervision required
After releasing the contents from its captor, we begin to see the journey unfold before our eyes.
Free at last!
*Queue chorus of angels*
The initial impression of the Chromecast just begs the feeling of “simplicity”; from the “1, 2, 3” of the setup guide (no other user manual included, or required) to the Chromecast unit sitting in a white mold shaped to hug the dimensions of the device.

Immediately visible after removing the Chromecast insert is the only other contents you’ll need for the device to function: your power hookups (AC adapter for your wall outlet and a USB cord, to plug into the TV) and a cable extension for your HDMI port (in case the location of your HDMI port isn’t optimal to allow for the Chromecast to be protruding from it).

“Look Ma, no user manual!”

 

Female end of the HDMI cable extension
Male end of the HDMI cable extension
Micro-USB cable connection to the AC adapter

As alluded to in the accessory characteristics, the Chromecast comes with two main connection points – one male HDMI connector (to plug into your TV) and one female Micro-USB port (to plug into the power source connector). Immediately upon picking up the device, it feels like it has enough heft and robustness to feel well-built, however light enough to feel versatile and streamlined (however not cheap-light feeling). Visible on the front (or top, depending on how you want to look at it) of the device is the Chrome branding, a power indicator light, and what looks to be a APN pairing button on the side.

 

 

 

For $40 (plus S&H) and the promise that this little device offers, I can’t see how this can be considered a bad investment. While I fully expect the next iteration to come with even more features (Bluetooth capability, anyone?) I’m happy to be a first-generation user and I look forward to exploring the endless possibilities it has!

Stay tuned for an update on how the use of the Chromecast stacks up to the competition!

Experiencing Hold “UPS”

Pretty sure that’s my package… [Source]

One of the most painful things about trying to stay on top of the latest technology is the waiting that is required for your online orders to arrive.

That being said, I have had very good experiences with Amazon and Canada Post – even the orders that are not assigned tracking numbers, they arrive on-time and without any additional investigation and effort put into locating my shipments. Now UPS on the other hand has been nothing short of useless.

It is unfortunate that Google Play uses UPS as their primary distribution service provider (for Canadian shipments, anyway – I can’t speak for the other international distribution networks). Don’t get me wrong – this is in no way Google’s fault and they really have no control over it (unless they chose a different shipping service, which would be more than welcome). Quite frankly, this isn’t even a matter of shipments being late, or additional fees/costs; UPS just makes things so unnecessarily difficult for the receiver to get the delivery in their hands once it leaves the shipper’s possession.

Exhibit A: We had the unfortunate circumstance of waiting for our new shiny Nexus 4’s to arrive from Google Canada HQ while we were experiencing the flood of the century here in Calgary. This flood caused the downtown core to be completely shut down for a good week while cleanup efforts were being made to at least allow traffic back onto the streets. We were living downtown at the time, and we had been evacuated to higher ground while our package was in transit. It was quite clear to us that this would cause delays/complications, which we were more than okay to deal with if it meant we would get our hands on our shiny new Nexus 4’s that we had been so eagerly waiting for. Unfortunately, it was not as easy as calling up UPS and letting them know of the circumstance and having the delivery address changed to that of the temporary refuge in which we were residing for the time being, hoping to save them the trouble of wading through waist-deep Bow River water to find our apartment building evacuated.

“We need to make a delivery attempt before we accept an alternate address.”

Okay, fine. Rules are rules I guess, and we all knew how that delivery attempt would turn out; we fully expected to be able to change the delivery address the next day (seeing as the deliver was scheduled for the next day and that would be their one delivery attempt). The next day rolled around, and sure enough, the online delivery status showed that they experienced “weather delays” and that it had not been sent out for delivery. Surely this meant we could now change the address?

“A delayed delivery is not considered a delivery attempt, as it had not left the depot.”

“Ummmm okay that’s kind of weird – it says right here online that the package was scanned out for delivery.”


“I don’t know why it would say that, it was delayed and so doesn’t count as a delivery attempt”

This exchange was repeated and elaborated for the next five minutes, and the only answers they could give was “That’s odd, I don’t know why it would say that” and “We need to make at least one delivery attempt”.

Long story short, we ended up having to go through management for them to allow us the privilege of coming down to the depot to pick the package up ourselves. This was after three days of phone calls to UPS and trying to reason with them to understand the circumstance and how ridiculous their policies were. They went as far as saying that if we wanted the shipping address changed, we would have to go through Google to contact them to change the shipping address.


Exhibit B/C/D/… : Delivery is scheduled for such-and-such a day; online delivery status shows it is out for delivery. One of us stays home to accept the package, and after an entire day of waiting we find a delivery ship saying there was an attempted and failed delivery. I wouldn’t call it much of an attempt when there isn’t so much as a phone call to confirm a buzzer number or an effort to find our concierge desk to leave the package at. Heck, just take a look at this delivery status list from this week:

1.) The street number shown on the delivery order has been correct the entire time, so I have no idea why there are issues with the address.

2.) After calling UPS to assure them that the address is correct, the response from the UPS rep was “Well it’s here at the depot right now, it’s an option to just come and get the package yourself.”

ARE YOU SERIOUS. Your solution to causing me inconvenience is to cause me even MORE inconvenience by getting me to come to your depot to collect the package that was supposed to be delivered YESTERDAY.

3.) After confirming the address with UPS and being assured that the package would be delivered on the 28th, there was yet another delay, for reasons unknown to me and most likely everyone else (including UPS). Now I have to wait until MONDAY before finding out if I’ll ever get my new piece of tech. And no, I’m not going to reveal what it is just yet!

Stay tuned…

Anyway, I guess the point of all of this is that there’s a cost to not buying things (especially when it comes to new pieces of technology and devices that are extra-exciting to receive!) in brick-and-mortar establishments and having to rely on logistics coordinators and delivery truck drivers.

Bah, humbug.