Dell recently launched Dell Cast, a device that takes the mobile-to-TV streaming concept of Google’s Chromecast and turns it into more of a productivity tool. Dell Cast is a dongle that plugs into a display’s HDMI port and turns your Android home screen into a traditional desktop experience that can be controlled with a mouse and a keyboard.
The Dell Cast is really just a really simple $80 device made for TVs. On one end it has an HDMI port, and on the other a USB port for connecting the mouse and keyboard. The best part is that the mouse and keyboard can be connected to Dell Cast either wired or wirelessly, meaning you don’t have to worry about range restrictions.
When in entertainment mode Dell Cast mirrors the video playing on the tablet. In productivity mode it stretches your home screen out into a custom desktop that has access to all of your apps and data, streamed from the mobile device, with right-click enabled for contextual actions. All of this is a really nice idea, though there are a few problems.
BIG PROBLEM – Only works with these:
The biggest problem is that the Dell Cast app that makes the entire process work is only available on Android-based Dell venue tablets. A spokesperson for Dell confirmed that the company is looking into making Dell Cast work with its line of Windows tablets in addition to the Venues, and it also didn’t rule out the possibility of making it available to tablets from other manufacturers as well.
The other big problem is the price. Sure it’s possible that you may have a spare mouse and keyboard lying around but the biggest thing that Google’s Chromecast has going for it is its $35 price tag. This is a problem for Dell due to the fact that Dell Cast more than doubles the price, sticks out of your TV and could potentially add more wires to clutter up your setup.
So essentially, if you happen to be running a Dell tablet and you also happen to have a spare mouse and keyboard lying around and you also feel the need to answer email on a bigger screen with a real keyboard and your laptop isn’t conveniently nearby and you have a spare $80 lying around then Dell Cast may be worth it.
Granted, there are a few companies that are heavily invested in the Dell ecosystem, so for them the Dell Cast is pure gold. However, for the rest of the tech community the $35 Chromecast is enough for the entertainment side of things and a cheap HDMI cable will allow you to hook up almost any modern laptop to a TV with the same cable hassles of Dell Cast.