How to use Chromecast when you can't connect to Wi-Fi

Google is offering an inexpensive solution, but there is a better option

chromecast backdrop
Credit: Swapnil Bhartiya

Google Chromecast is becoming a must-have device. With this $35 device (and an HDMI port) you can turn any TV into a Smart TV.

But there is one limitation of Chromecast and other such devices: They require access to a wireless network. There are many scenarios in which wireless signals would lose their strength by the time they reached the Chromecast device. Chances are, you've experienced this if, for example, your wireless router is in the living room and you've set up an entertainment room in the basement.

10 reasons your Wi-Fi speed stinks (and what you can do about it) ]

It seems Google has received tons of feedback on this and they are offering an inexpensive solution -- an Ethernet adapter for Chromecast. It replaces the existing power supply for the Chromecast so there is no 'additional' unit. The adapter sits between the Chromecast and your LAN cable. All you need to do is plug in the unit to power supply, connect the USB cable to Chromecast, and plug in the Ethernet cable.

The speed is 10/100 Mbps which is much more than what is needed to stream High Definition videos to the device. Netflix requires a speed of 25 Mbps for Ultra HD quality and only 5.0 Mbps for HD.

The Cable Guy

However, you still need to run an ethernet cable from your modem to the unit. That could be challenging in some cases.

Wait. There's another solution: powerline networking. The way it works is simple and interesting.

How and why to extend your network with powerline networking ]

There are two units: An adapter and an access point. You plug the adapter into the power outlet near the modem and connect it via the Ethernet cable. Then plug the ‘access point’ unit to the power outlet in the room where you need wireless. Connect the two devices using WPS and it will use the electrical line to route the network from your model to the access point. You will have 100% signal strength in the room your Wi-Fi wouldn't reach.

While the Chromecast adapter is being sold for $15 (and it’s already sold out), the powerline solution may cost you around $75 depending on the product, but it's certainly a reliable and secure solution for situations where you can't run Ethernet cable across your house. Another advantage of spending those extra dollars: While the Chromecast adapter works only with Chromecast, a powerline adapter will also work for your Amazon TV, Roku and other wireless devices such as laptops and tablets.

So do you experience weak wireless signals near your Chromecast? Which solution would you use?

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