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Chromecast with Google TV: Everything you need to know
Towards the end of 2020, Google took the wraps off its best media streamer: Google Chromecast with Google TV. Unlike previous entries in the Chromecast family, this device features a companion remote and a brand-new interface based on Android TV.
In the article below, we’re going to give you all the info you need on this new streaming device, as well as where you can buy it.
Chromecast with Google TV: At a glance
Unlike previous iterations of the Chromecast, this model comes with a standalone remote. That means you are no longer required to use a secondary device (such as a smartphone or laptop) to control/cast media. Instead, you can use it just as you would a Roku or Amazon Fire TV device.
Because of this remote’s existence, Google needed to create an onboard software experience. This is something previous Chromecasts didn’t need. That experience is known as Google TV, which is a new interface stacked on top of Android TV. We’ll explain that more in a bit.
The addition of the remote and the introduction of Google TV are huge shifts for this product line. In a way, this is a wholly different device from every other Chromecast we’ve seen.
At its core, though, the Chromecast with Google TV still is a Chromecast. It still has a permanently attached HDMI dongle that you plug into the back of your television. You can still use your smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc., to cast media to your TV, too.
Essentially, the Chromecast with Google TV is everything you loved about previous Chromecasts but with more options and flexibility.
Chromecast with Google TV: What’s special?
Besides the remote and software, the Chromecast with Google TV launched with a few new things. First, it has a whole new design including multiple colorways, something most other media streamers don’t offer.
Since the streamer will likely live behind your television its entire life, we’re not quite sure why you would want a specific color. If you do, though, you’ll be happy to know that it comes in three models: Snow (white), Sunrise (pink-ish), and Sky (light blue).
The design of the Chromecast is totally revamped, with new colors, a new shape, and new features.
The basic design has also changed, with the introduction of an oblong, egg-like shape. The past few Chromecasts have all been circular, so it’s nice to see something a bit different. You’ll also find that Google upgraded the power supply port to USB-C, a nice switch from the tired old Micro-USB of other Chromecasts.
As far as features go, the Chromecast with Google TV borrows quite a bit from the Chromecast Ultra, offering 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision support. Dolby Atmos and 5.1 surround sound support are also onboard. Unlike the Ultra, though, there’s no Ethernet connector in the box (although you will be able to buy one separately).
Let’s talk about the Chromecast with Google TV (HD)
While $49.99 for a streaming device as good as the Chromecast with Google TV is a pretty awesome deal, saving more money is always good. This is why the company launched the Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD). This is a lower-end device with a $29.99 MSRP. At the same time, Google changed the original device’s name to Chromecast with Google TV (4K).
The Chromecast with Google TV (HD) is pretty much as awesome as its 4K counterpart. For starters, it looks and functions the same, and the remote is also the same. There are some differences to keep in mind, though.
Of course, the HD version of the device is limited to 1,080p. It runs a slightly less powerful Amlogic S805X2 chip and has a bit less RAM at 1.5GB (compared to an Amlogic S905X3 and 2GB of RAM on the 4K version). The HD version also lacks Dolby Vision, and is only available in white. Honestly, though, you will be hard-pressed to notice these differences if you’re using a Full HD TV, anyways.
Here’s our full Chromecast with Google TV (HD) review, if you would like to learn more about it.
Is the Chromecast with Google TV worth it?
In Android Authority‘s Chromecast with Google TV (4K) review, we were very impressed with the new streaming device. By changing to an Android TV-based interface, he wrote that “Google has fundamentally changed what the Chromecast is.” We also loved the Chromecast with Google TV (HD), especially considering the much more accessible price point.
It’s now much more useful than a simple streaming stick, and it lets you use all of the best streaming services in a single place. He also liked the new remote, although he did find it a bit slippery in everyday use.
Although it’s a worthy successor to the Chromecast Ultra, it doesn’t quite tick all of the same boxes. You don’t get an ethernet port unless you drop an extra $20 on an additional adapter. Originally, it also only supported one profile, so families wouldn’t get customized recommendations for every user. Google took a year to fix this problem.
That said, if you want a capable streaming device and don’t already have a Roku, either of the Google Chromecast with Google TV devices are excellent options. Which one you pick depends on the resolution you need to stream at. If you have a 4K TV, you might as well go for the 4K version.
Google TV: It’s not Android TV, but it is
Before we get into this, let’s be clear: Google TV is not replacing Android TV. In fact, Google TV is simply an interface that lives on top of Android TV. In that sense, this new Chromecast actually doubles as an Android TV streamer.
That means the Chromecast with Google TV has access to the Google Play Store and all the Android TV apps and games one can find there. It also has access to Google Play Movies & TV, which, somewhat confusingly, is also getting a rebrand to Google TV.
However, Google understands that you stream media from multiple platforms. Google TV caters to that by organizing media from multiple sources all in one spot. What’s more, you can even save shows or movies you find and access them all later via Google TV’s Watchlist. This syncs with Google Search, allowing you to find content on your phone or computer, add it to your Watchlist, and then see that sync up on your TV.
In a nutshell, Google TV is all about delivering media content. The new Chromecast suggests new content based on your current viewing habits and aggregates content from different providers in one easy-to-understand hub.
Yes, it has a remote!
Ever since the very first Chromecast landed in 2013, users have wanted a remote. Multiple generations followed, and Google never delivered. Now, finally, the Chromecast with Google TV is the first device of its kind to have a remote — and it comes right in the box!
As one would expect, the remote does the basics: powering on the device, navigating through menus using a circular pad, and controlling other peripherals you own through its IR blaster. It also has two non-customizable shortcut buttons (which are pre-populated with YouTube and Netflix in the US) and a Google Assistant button.
That Assistant button turns on the built-in microphone on the remote, allowing you to deliver voice commands to the Chromecast. Doing so allows you to jump right to a show or movie in your queue. “Hey Google, play The Mandalorian on Disney Plus,” for example.
You can also use it to control your smart home, just as you would with a standalone smart speaker or your phone. You can also ask to see video feeds from your Google Nest security cams right on your television.
Unfortunately, one thing the remote is missing is a headphone jack. Roku fans will likely be disappointed to hear that.
Competition and alternatives
The pricing and features of thes Chromecast with Google TV (4K) put it up directly against the Roku Streaming Stick 4K. That device delivers 4K content with a remote that supports voice commands. Alternatively, it also goes up against the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, which includes many of the same features. All of these devices also come in at the same price as the Chromecast with Google TV.
It should also be noted that the most popular products that do everything the new Chromecast does — Android TV, Google Assistant, voice commands, etc. — are the products in the NVIDIA Shield TV line. The cheapest NVIDIA Shield TV is $150, so the Chromecast with Google TV severely undercuts it.
You can take a look t our list of the best media streaming devices if you want to explore some other great options.
Chromecast with Google TV: Price and availability
The starting price for the Chromecast with Google TV is $29.99 for the Chromecast with Google TV (HD). The Chromecast with Google TV (4K) costs $49.99.
The Chromecast with Google TV devices are available to buy in several regions, including the United States. You can grab them from Google directly or from other popular retailers at the links below.
Outside of the US, the new Chromecast can be found in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the UK via their local versions of the Google Store.
Chromecast with Google TV: FAQ
No. This is a direct quote from Google on that topic: “Android TV continues to be Google’s operating system for TVs, powering TV experiences from manufacturers and pay-TV providers. Google TV is the latest experience that runs on Android TV OS.”
With Google TV’s launch, Google committed to bringing it to other products. Here’s a quote from the company: “We plan to bring the Google TV experience to the Android TV ecosystem over time, starting in 2021. We also expect to fully update eligible existing devices to Google TV in the future. We’ll bring some of the Google TV features to existing Android TV OS retail devices.”
The Chromecast Ultra features an Ethernet port in its power brick, which is something this Chromecast doesn’t have out-of-the-box.
You can get the newer, more affordable, Chromecast with Google TV (HD). It costs only $29.99, and only supports 1,080p.
That’s everything you need to know about the Chromecast with Google TV. We’ll update this article as we hear new information.