Quick guide: Chromecast vs. Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Xbox 360 vs. PS3

For the first time, fewer Americans subscribed to cable and satellite TV last year than did the year before, according to The Diffusion Group. Pay subscriptions peaked in 2011, and will continue to erode for years to come, according to TDG. Meanwhile, TV streaming has taken off, driven by sleek, inexpensive set-top boxes such as Google's Chromecast, Microsoft's Xbox 360, and Apple TV.

Check out our list of alternatives to cable TV to see what all video-streaming hype is about.

Beck Diefenbach/ Reuters/ File
Google's new Chromecast device synchs between a television and the new Nexus 7 tablet. The Chromecast device for watching online videos on television costs $35.

1. Chromecast

James Durbin/ AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram/ File
Chromecast allows smartphones, computers and tablets to broadcast to television with a small doggle device.

Chromecast is Google’s low-cost answer to TV streaming. The whole systems runs off a $35 dongle. Simply plug in the device to your TV and access Chromecast via your wireless network.

How it works: Videos are stored in Google’s Chromecast cloud, and are streamed over the Internet. This means that you can watch a TV show, control it with your Wi-Fi-enabled devices – i.e. cellphone, laptop, or tablet – switch between various potential remotes, and not interrupt your viewing.

Supported Apps: Netflix and YouTube. Pandora is coming soon.

Mirroring: You can only mirror – or sync what is on your computer screen with what is on your television – if you are using Google's Chrome web browser. 

Price: $35

Where can you buy one: Online at Google’s Play store, BestBuy.com, or Amazon.com

Compatibility: iOS, Mac OS X, Android, Windows, and Chrome OS

Remote: Your Wi-Fi-enabled devices act as a remote.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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