Cheapcast is a free alternative to Google’s Chromecast dongle. Videep Vijay Kumar has the details

If you’ve got an Android device and are unwilling to part with the $35 it will cost you to purchase Google’s Chromecast streaming dongle (or you’re unprepared to wait indefinitely for the device to be officially available in the country), Cheapcast (an app from XDA developer Maui) might be the solution to your home streaming problems. Once activated, the app will allow you to stream content to the device running it, from another device running a Chromecast-compatible app (Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play). Like with the Chromecast dongle, both devices will need to be on the same Wi-Fi network.

Connect and stream

To make the best use of Cheapcast, your Android device should feature an HDMI output. Hook it up to your TV, start the app, assign a “friendly” name to your device and you’re good to go. On your second device, you’ll notice that the “second screen” or “cast” icon is now available — the compatible apps will now detect the device running the Chromecast-impersonating application. Tap the second screen icon, select your device and start spamming YouTube videos to your TV like there’s no tomorrow. Or alternatively, exercise restraint. Feel free to pat yourself on the back for saving $35, however.

Limited functionality

It’s not just Cheapcast that has a limited feature set. As of now, Chromecast is only compatible with a select few services: Netflix, YouTube and Google Play, as well as to Google’s own Chrome browser (Cheapcast does not support streaming from Google Chrome at the moment). For a large number of us, this is more than we could ask for, and with additional services surely to add native compatibility, it’s only a matter of time before both the dongle and the free app take over the lion’s share of our home entertainment streaming requirements. But it’s the compatibility (or lack thereof) that makes a stronger case for Cheapcast if you’ve already got a capable Android device (it only requires version 2.2).

While Cheapcast removes the need for the dongle, there are still a couple of potential annoyances. For one, if the device connected to your TV happens to be your shiny new Samsung Galaxy S4 (you’ll need an MHL-to-HDMI adapter to do this), be prepared to get really annoyed with a flurry of incoming calls and messages. Some Android devices (including the S4) need adapters which themselves cost as much as the Chromecast device, rendering the entire exercise redundant. Besides, the whole point of “wireless” streaming is to keep the number of wires to a minimum — powered adapters, converter cables and the like don’t exactly help you create an optimum wireless environment (it must be pointed out that the Chromecast dongle is guilty of this as well, since the device needs to be powered either by an adapter or via USB).

But then again, if you’ve checked all the boxes in terms of prerequisites, Cheapcast is a good alternative to Chromecast — just keep in mind that the app is in beta and is likely to crash on occasion. Cheapcast can be downloaded from the Google Play store.