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Shawn asked: “Google Chromecast, I would like to be able to use it in my truck. I’m on the road a lot. Can I use my iPhone’s hotspot or does it have to be some sort of land-based wi-fi. I almost bought one since they’re only $35 and come with like 200 channels. But I don’t know if I could use my iPhone’s hotspot for the connection it requires.”
Shawn, you will probably have a hard time using your iPhone as the access point for a Chromecast.
Typically, when your iPhone acts as a hotspot it knows that it is the source of the connection and it doesn’t consider itself to be connected to itself, just sharing the connection it’s getting from it’s own internet provider, so it acts a little differently.
Some people have had some success, but it may or may not last. The other problem you will very quickly run into is that your iPhone probably has either a limited data plan, or a limited tethering plan, and both will feel the weight of video streaming very, very quickly. To give you an idea, Netflix claims that to stream standard definition content, uses 700MB/hour, and as the quality increases the bandwidth really increases, up to around 7GB/hour for UltraHD content. Whoever you’re getting your data from will love you, but whoever you bank with will panic.
If you’re mobile, you may be better off paying for an unlimited data plan that allows you stream on your phone, even if it’s a smaller screen. That way at least you won’t have to worry about nasty surprises at the end of the month.
What would work much better for you is to buy an Apple TV. Apple recently dropped the price to $69 for that device and with it, you’d have access to AirPlay. AirPlay would allow you to easily play streaming video content from your iPhone over your Apple TV. Both the iPhone and the Apple TV will need to be on the same wireless network, however, and you’re still going to have to deal with the question of how you get data on that network.
You will probably have to engage the hotspot on your phone and then link your Apple TV to your iPhone. But we’re still going to running up hard against the brick wall of your wireless data plan.
Streaming video, as we said already, will SHRED your data plan. And unlimited data plans…simply aren’t. They may not charge you for it, but there is a soft cap in there somewhere, and something WILL happen to you (typically network throttling) when you go beyond a predetermined limit.
But for video streaming using an iPhone, the Apple TV can’t be beat.
We should mention this week Google announced new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio devices and a new app, we don’t know if that will change the way Chromecast works with a hotspot, but it may be worth trying when the app comes out, just in case.