Chromecast is now getting built into hotel TV systems

Welcome to the Hotel Chromecastifornia.

Watching online video on your hotel television could soon be as easy as watching on your phone as Chromecast heads to hotel TV systems.

Sonifi, a provider of TV and Internet services for hotels, is partnering with Google on a Chromecast-based system for guest rooms, dubbed SoniCast. Instead of having to bring their own $35 Chromecast dongles, and employ elaborate workarounds to get them working on hotel Wi-Fi, guests would just connect their phones to the hotel’s Wi-Fi network and Cast video from supported apps, just like they would at home. The system then makes sure that each guest can only Cast to their own television.

Streaming video is not a new concept for hotel rooms. Last year, for instance, Marriott added support for streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Crackle to its in-room entertainment systems. Users could then log in to their subscription services on the TV, and the hotel would automatically log them out upon checkout.

But relying on Chromecast brings some distinct advantages: Instead of having just a handful of supported apps, guests can Cast content from thousands of supported apps, including major streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, and HBO Now. There’s also no login process for individual services, assuming users already have the apps installed on their phones or tablets. And for hotels, Sonifi claims that SoniCast is cheaper than installing a commercial-grade set-top box or smart TV. (This makes sense, given that Chromecast is the cheapest media streamer on the market.)

For now, however, it’s unclear how many hotels are on board. Sonifi’s announcement doesn’t list any, and a story from Variety only mentions the Boston Park Plaza hotel. And if hotel Wi-Fi networks can’t keep up with the increase in usage that will surely come with more video streaming, the experience won’t feel very homey at all.

Why this matters: The main advantages of Chromecast are that the hardware is inexpensive and the software is as easy to use as the mobile apps you’re already familiar with. It seems like a natural fit for hotel rooms, and could help advance Google’s vision of mobile devices as the best way to control your television.

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Jared Newman

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