Chromecasts are great, especially if you have a bunch of handy apps downloaded onto your smartphone that you want to cast on-screen.
But, always using your phone to cast content can be annoying, especially if your phone’s battery is low but you still want to “Netflix & Chill.”
How exactly do Chromecasts work?
Other streaming sticks allow you to use them as a standalone device, but can the same thing be said for Chromecast?
What should you do if you don’t have an external device to connect to it?
Keep reading to find out!
How Does a Chromecast Work?
Chromecast works by casting content from your phone onto your TV.
Chromecasts cast content from your personal device to your TV screen using Wi-Fi.
However, before Chromecasts can connect to the internet and your phone, they need to be plugged into your TV’s HDMI port and a stable power source.
You need to download the Google Home app on your smartphone or tablet, then set up your Chromecast.
Once your Chromecast is set up and has successfully connected to the internet, you can open any of your phone’s streaming apps (e.g. Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc).
You should see a cast icon when you play a video which, when clicked, will send the video to your Chromecast which will cast it on your TV.
So, Chromecast casts content from your personal device onto your TV using Wi-Fi.
Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra do not function as solitary streaming sticks with a built-in interface, OS, and apps.
Itsnotlettingme on YouTube has a short, but sweet, video demonstrating how Chromecast works. Watch it below!
Can I Use Chromecast as a Standalone Device? (Without a Smartphone/Tablet/Laptop)
No, you cannot use Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra as a standalone device.
So, we’ve learned that Chromecasts use Wi-Fi to carry video signals from your phone to your television. But, is there a way to use a Chromecast without a smartphone, tablet, or laptop?
Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra do not have a built-in interface with apps you can stream directly from it. Its whole purpose is to cast content from other devices’ apps.
In fact, you will be unable to use one of these Chromecasts if it’s not connected to an external device.
So make sure one of your devices is charged and connected to the internet before trying to use your Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra, or else the only thing you’ll be watching will be an error screen.
Can I Use Chromecast with Google TV as a Standalone Device?
Yes, you can use Chromecast with Google TV as a standalone device.
Chromecast with Google TV is akin to other streaming sticks, meaning it has built-in apps and a remote with voice control to navigate them.
This means you can simply plug it into your TV, connect it to the internet, and open your favorite streaming apps without casting them from your phone.
You can also cast videos or mirror your device’s screen to this version of Chromecast.
Please bear in mind that Chromecast with Google TV is currently the only version of Chromecast that allows you to do this. You will not be able to use Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra as a standalone streaming stick.
What Can I Do Instead If I Don’t Have a Smartphone or Laptop?
There are a few ways you can stream content on your TV if you don’t have a smartphone or laptop.
If you don’t have a smartphone or laptop handy, you will be unable to use your Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra. But fear not! There are other ways you can watch content on-screen without an external device.
You can, of course, use a Chromecast with Google TV , which acts as a standalone streaming stick.
If Chromecast with Google TV doesn’t suit your fancy, there are plenty of other streaming sticks on the market that offer an amazing interface and a wide selection of built-in apps.
Streaming sticks can make any TV with an HDMI port able to stream content from apps. These sticks have built-in operating systems which allow you to connect to the internet, and download and use apps, like Netflix.
They’re small and portable, so you can take them anywhere you go.
Let’s learn about the best streaming sticks to use if you don’t have an external device on hand!
Fire TV sticks are made by Amazon and allow you to transform your TV’s interface, giving it smart TV capabilities.
They have countless streaming apps to choose from, both free and subscription-based.
You can even download and watch your favorite streamers on the big screen!
Do you already have a paid subscription to a few streaming apps? Great!
You can download the app from their app store, log in, and you’re ready to go!
Fire TV has several options of Fire sticks, from the reasonably prices Fire TV Lite to the high-end Fire TV 4K Max , which supports 4K content when used on a 4K TV.
You can also cast to your Fire TV from your Android phone. However, this same feature is not supported for iOS devices.
Are you interested in getting a Fire TV but want to know which apps are available on it? Check out Apps and Games for Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Though pricier than Fire TV, Apple TV offers all the streaming apps you love, including the Apple TV+ app.
This sleek streaming device is available both in full HD and 4K.
If you’re an Apple geek like me, you’ll love using the familiar Apple interface on the big screen. It’s intuitive to use and absolutely stunning.
Apple TV also has a few added features, like the ability to set a screensaver when your device goes into sleep mode.
The Apple TV Siri remote control can even power your TV on and off, and control its volume. It also has voice control!
You can cast your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook’s screen to your Apple TV using AirPlay.
You will, however, need to download third-party apps to cast your Android phone’s screen.
If you’ve always dreamt of having a real Apple TV, the Apple TV streaming device is the right choice for you!
Roku has, by far, the biggest selection of streaming sticks to choose from. From the Roku Express to the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ , you’re bound to find a streaming device that fits your needs.
Several models’ remotes support voice control and some even have audio jacks for you to plug your headphones into to listen to content privately.
Roku is by far the best choice for frequent travelers since its Hotel and Dorm Connect feature makes it easier than ever to connect to your hotel or college dorm’s Wi-Fi network.
Roku also frequently comes out with new updates to make your streaming experience better than ever.
Some Roku models also support casting, screen mirroring, and AirPlay.
To learn more about the different streaming sticks on the market and how they compare to one another, check out the video below.
Wrapping Things Up
Your Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra can do a lot, but they need to be connected to an external device to function.
They can not function without a smartphone, tablet, or laptop as they don’t have built-in apps like streaming sticks do.
If you want to stream content on your TV without a device, check out Chromecast with Google TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Roku. These streaming devices don’t need to be connected to an external device to work, though many of them do support casting.
Did you know how Chromecasts work? Do you prefer to cast content from your phone to your TV or use a streaming app with built-in apps?
Let us know in the comments below!
Yesenia Achlim is a technical copywriter and editor with a focus on AV equipment. She aims to break down complicated topics and make technology accessible, no matter your technical expertise. When she’s not teaching you how to replace a projector lamp, you can find her reading and baking.