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Chromecast with Google TV review

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Google’s Chromecast (2020) with Google TV is a revelation. This streaming device fixes something that wasn’t broken and improves an almost perfect technology in a tangible manner. Its remote and Google’s “new” software, Google TV, are the key to this.

Combining the two offers a huge improvement in usability over Chromecasts that required you to use your tablet or phone to cast content, rather than having an interface on-screen to interact with.

CHROMECAST WITH GOOGLE TELEVISION SPECS

Dimensions: 162 mm X 61 mm X 12.5 mm (L X W X H)

Weight: 55g

Resolution up to 4K HDR at 60 FPS. Supports resolutions of up to 4K, high dynamic range (HDR),

Video formats Dolby Vision HDR10, HDR10+

Ports – HDMI can be plugged directly into the TV or USB Type C power.

Connectivity: WiFi 802.11ac (2.4GHz/5GHz), Bluetooth

Dimensions (remote),122 mmX 38 mmX 18 mm(L X W. X H).

Weight (remote), 63g

Connectivity (remote),: Bluetooth. IR to control TVs, soundbars, or receivers

Power (remote),: Two AAA Batteries Included

  • Google Chromecast and Google TV (HDR), at Amazon for US$39.98

Google now offers a dedicated TV interface, which you can control with a remote. This allows you to instantly access most streaming services including Disney Plus, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video. There are many apps that were carried over from Android TV (the predecessor to Google TV), that can bring productivity and games to the streamer.

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It’s a retooled streaming gadget that may look similar to its predecessors but offers a new user experience that is more intuitive for those who are familiar with using remote controls and an easy-to-use interface. It’s our top streaming device pick.

The Chromecast with Google TV has seen several updates since our initial review. One in 2021 saw improved Dolby Vision playback for some apps as well as storage, security and other improvements to the streaming device.

For more information on this amazing value streamer, Google Chromecast with Google TV is available in our complete review.

Google TV and Chromecast: Price and availability

  • Launched 2020
  • Prices $49.99 / PS59.99/ AU$99

Chromecast with Google TV comes in three colors: Snow White, Sunrise Peach, and Sky Blue.

You’ll pay $49 / PS59 / AU$99 for the Chromecast with Google TV. The Chromecast with Google TV is currently on sale at a significant discount, particularly in the US and UK where it has been reduced to $39/PS39.

It’s almost as affordable as Google’s step-down streaming device at $29.99/PS30/$59AU. You can read our Google Chromecast (3rd Generation) review.

It is also cheaper than Amazon’s new streaming stick which retails for $49 / PS49 / AU$69. For more information, take a look at the Amazon Fire TV Stick4K review. It is also significantly cheaper than other high-end streaming options. Our Nvidia shield review. It costs almost three times as much.

The Chromecast Ultra was the middle child of the Chromecast family before Google discontinued it. It’s now the best choice for Google, especially with its latest updates.

Chromecast with Google TV design

  • Ovular design similar to the original Chromecast
  • Includes remote
  • Some TVs or the wall can power

Google’s Chromecast with Google TV has maintained a hockey-puck design for Chromecast devices for a number of years. Although the latest design is slightly longer than its predecessors, it’s still very similar.

Once again, you will connect your Chromecast to your TV using an HDMI cable. This cable, which is thankfully the most recent specification, HDMI 2.1, draws power from either a wall outlet, or a USB port on the TV, depending on how lucky you are.

The Chromecast was actually connected to the back of a Vizio V-Series television. We were told that the Chromecast couldn’t draw enough electricity from the TV’s USB port. Although this could be frustrating for those who don’t have enough power outlets nearby their entertainment center, most people won’t mind plugging the Chromecast in to the wall.

The Chromecast Ultra does not have an Ethernet jack, so it can only be used over Wi-Fi. Google claims that you can purchase a USB-C Ethernet adapter to use with the Chromecast with Google TV. However, one is not included in the box.

The new Chromecast comes with a Bluetooth/IR remote. This is a positive thing. Although the plastic zapper may be a little fragile, it is fully loaded with a circular keypad and a volume rocker. There are also eight buttons on the front. Chromecast remotes can be used to control the volume and power down of your TV’s HDMI-CEC support TVs.

This is the first Google TV product to be redesigned. It does have a Google Assistant button on its remote which you can use for the virtual assistant. We’ll discuss more in the next section.

Chromecast with Google TV: Features

  • To use it, you’ll need to have a Google account
  • Casting works on iOS and Android phones

The new Chromecast caters to Android users as you would expect from a product called “Google TV”. You’ll login to your Google account to access the Google Assistant, YouTube/YouTube TV (if applicable), Google Photos, Google Play Store, Google Photos, Nest devices, and Google Photos if available.

This isn’t the first Android TV to include Google Assistant. Sony TVs and the Nvidia Shield have used it for years. However, it feels right at home here. Google Assistant is turned off when the remote button is pressed. You can also disable it by logging in to your Google account at startup.

You can tap into your Google account to populate the Chromecast’s main screen with relevant and recommended content. This will look familiar to those who are already familiar with Android TV. However, for those not, it’s a smorgasbord made from different sources. On our home screen, we have Captain America the First Avenger (mostly because we watched the Marvel movies order), and Parks and Recreation.

Scroll down from the recommended content row to see Netflix-like rows of content. These are organized by genre, a row with recommended videos from YouTube, and then finally, trending movies and shows. You can move from the For You tab to find different areas for movies and shows as well as your own library. This is a good option if you don’t regularly buy movies from Google Play Movies or TV. You will not be able to access the Live TV section unless you subscribe to YouTube TV. Google does offer a free trial, but once it ends you will still need to pay.

You can choose to immediately start watching the selected item or to add it to your Watch List to return later. Google TV uses a thumbs-up / down system to improve its recommendations. The last but not the least, Google TV has a decent built-in search function that can show you multiple ways to stream a particular movie or show. However, it isn’t as robust as Roku’s built-in Search engine.

All the major players, including Netflix, Prime Video and Hulu, Sling, HBO Max, Disney Plus, are supported. There are also over 6,500 lesser-known apps that Google TV has inherited form Android TV. Apple TV is the only missing app, which is somewhat disappointing given that it doesn’t support AirPlay.

 

Chromecast with Google TV: Performance

  • Rock-steady streaming even in low-bandwidth homes
  • A little pop-in is noticeable upon setting
  • Support for HDR 4K (HDR10+ and Dolby Vision

Chromecast with Google TV performs admirably, and is comparable to its rivals. Google hasn’t been explicitly clear on what’s going on inside the hardware at a system level, but regardless of whatever SoC it’s chosen to use, we’ve seen very few points that the Chromecast dipped in performance–especially once we chose which content we wanted to watch.

The only slowdown that we observed was when the Chromecast was populated the UI for its first time. This took a few seconds, but was not a significant time sink. We are impressed by the fact that the hardware works both close to the router and far from it, and appears to work just fine with less bandwidth. However, we wouldn’t recommend using it if 4K HDR content is your goal.

The Chromecast with Google TV supports streaming in 1080p and 4K HDR, as well as support for HDR10+ (and Dolby Vision) formats. We recommend all of these formats to be tested out. The new Chromecast supports DTS and Dolby Audio formats. However, like HDR formats, you will need a compatible TV or sound system to hear them.

Both Dolby Vision and regular HDSDR streams were well-viewed on our TVs, but you shouldn’t expect streamers to do much in the way of post-processing or upscaling. You get what you see.

We recommend that you use the remote to access Chromecast’s native Google TV App to get streaming in high resolution and high-end formats. This is because it’s where most people will find it. If you need content quickly, the Chromecast with Google TV can be used as a regular Chromecast. You can cast from your browser, iOS, or Android device. This is, of course, extremely convenient.

At the hardware level, the Chromecast with Google TV does not yet support Stadia. This is not likely to cause any major problems, but it’s a small issue for those who are looking for the streaming media player that can sing and dance the latest songs.

Software-wise, you may notice some slowdowns on the main screen at times, but the interface is responsive and fast. Google Assistant is not always reliable when it comes to search results. For example, “Who plays Captain Kirk?” might return a few confusing results. Although it may return confusing and inaccurate results, most of the time it works as expected.

Conclusion

The Chromecast with Google TV is an excellent choice if you are looking for an affordable, simple-to-use streaming device. Chromecast has always been easy to use. However, with the addition of a remote, even non-techies will be able to enjoy Google’s fast, affordable streaming device.

If you are interested in streaming 4K HDR, it’s a great option. Although there were other options, they cost much more than the Chromecast and Google TV. The Chromecast with Google TV can help you recoup some of the money that you spent on a 4K TV.

The Chromecast with Google TV has few downsides. You might also want to consider the Nvidia Shield TV and Apple TV 4K if you are looking for the best streaming device. (Learn more below). The Chromecast with Google TV is more expensive than you would think, but it does offer more.

Also, consider…

 

Here are three options to consider if you’re considering streaming a device for your home based on our Chromecast with Google TV Review.

Review of Apple TV 4K (2021). 

Apple TV 4K

The Apple TV 4K is a step above the Chromecast with Google TV. The Apple TV 4K is a sleek streaming device that can play 4K video in HDR or Dolby Vision. It also supports high-frame rate HDR to make sports and fast action look clear. It’s also enjoyable to use the Siri remote.

Nvidia Shield TV Pro

The Shield TV Pro by Nvidia is the best streaming device available. The Shield TV Pro from Nvidia is unrivalled in 4K HDR streaming capabilities. It also has extensive app support due to its Android TV foundations and offers a lot of potential for gamers. This high-end device will cost you more.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K now supports 4K streaming, making it a great choice for all your streaming needs. This is especially true if you already have Amazon Prime or other devices within the Amazon ecosystem. Amazon isn’t yet perfect in equity, so this may not be the best option for you if you want ultimate choice.

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