Google’s Chromecast with Google TV (2020) is a revelation; it fixes what wasn’t broken and improves a virtually perfect technology in practice. It gives users access to the remote and Google TV, the company’s “revolutionary” software.
When combined, the two provide a significant improvement in usability over prior Chromecasts, which required you to use your phone or tablet to Cast content rather than providing an on-screen interface to interact with.
However, now that Google has integrated a separate TV interface that you can use with a remote, you can instantly access most mainstreaming providers, including Disney Plus, HBO Max, and even Amazon Prime Video’s streaming app. Furthermore, there are a number of apps that have been carried over from Android TV, Google TV’s predecessor, such include games and productivity apps.
The end result is a retooled broadcasting device that may resemble its predecessors but offers a completely new experience that is more user-friendly for users who are used to using a remote control and an easily accessible UI.
Analysis of the cost and the release date
- Since September 30, 2020, it has been available in the United States.
- The price is $49.99, £59.99, or AU$99.
- The Chromecast’s new middle child
The Chromecast with Google TV will be available in three colours (Snow White, Sunrise Peach, and Sky Blue) beginning September 30, 2020, in the United States, and is currently available for pre-order on the Google Store in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and most of mainland Europe.
It costs $49 / £59 / AU$99, which is $20 more than the Chromecast (3rd Gen) and $20 less than the Chromecast Ultra. It’s not as good a deal in the UK or Australia – especially since you can get an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K for £49 / AU$69 – but it’s still less expensive than, say, the Android TV-based Nvidia Shield, which costs nearly three times as much.
The new Chromecast with Google TV is thus the Chromecast’s middle child: it can stream 4K HDR with Dolby Vision, making it superior to the normal Chromecast, but it cannot stream games, as the Chromecast Ultra can. It’s unfortunate that Stadia isn’t available, but it’s not a deal breaker.
- Ovular design reminiscent of the original Chromecast
- It even comes with a remote control!
- Some TVs, as well as the wall, can power it.
Google has employed a hockey-puck shape for its Chromecast devices for the past three years, and it has done so again for the Chromecast with Google TV. The new design is slightly longer than the previous one, but otherwise it is pretty similar to its forefathers.
Connect the Chromecast to your TV with the included HDMI cable (which, thankfully, supports HDMI 2.1) and power it from a wall outlet or a USB port on your TV… if you’re lucky.
We inserted the Chromecast into the back of a new Vizio V-Series TV and were told it couldn’t get enough power from the USB connector. This may be inconvenient for those who don’t have many free power outlets near their entertainment centre, but most people won’t be troubled by the Chromecast is plugged into the wall.
The Chromecast with Google TV, unlike the Chromecast Ultra, does not have an Ethernet jack, so it will only work over Wi-Fi. According to Google, a USB-C to Ethernet converter for the Chromecast with Google TV will be available for purchase, but one will not be included in the box.
The updated and better Chromecast has a Bluetooth/IR remote, which is a benefit. The plastic zipper is a tad flimsy, but it comes with a circular keypad, a volume control on the side, and eight front buttons. If your TV supports HDMI-CEC, you may control the volume and even turn off both the TV and the Chromecast after you’re finished watching.
Because this is the first updated Google TV product, there is a Google Assistant button on the remote that you can use to call the eponymous virtual assistant – which we’ll go over in more detail in the following section.
- You’ll need a Google account to utilize it.
- Casting is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
- Except for Apple TV and Stadia, most streaming apps are available.
The new Chromecast caters to the Android audience, as you’d expect from a product named “Google TV”: you’ll log in with your Google account, and you’ll have access to Google Assistant, YouTube/YouTube TV (if you have an account), the Play Store, Google Photos, and Nest devices if you have them.
Although this isn’t the first Android TV-based device to include Google Assistant – Sony TVs have had it for years, and the new Nvidia Shield does as well – it feels like at home here. For those concerned about privacy, Google Assistant only activates when the remote’s button is pressed, and you can entirely disable it by logging in with your Google account at launch.
By logging into your Google account, the primary screen of the Chromecast’s UI will be filled with relevant and recommended material. If you’ve used Android TV before, this will all appear very familiar, but for the unfamiliar, it’s a veritable feast of content culled from many sources. On our home screen, for example, we have Captain America: The First Avenger and Parks & Recreation, among other comedy and sci-fi films (most likely because we saw the Marvel movies in order).
Scrolling down from your recommended content row, you’ll see Netflix-style rows of content organized by genre, a row of YouTube-recommended videos, and finally a row of popular shows and movies. Moving away from the For You page, you’ll find distinct sections for movies, shows, applications, and your own library, which, unless you routinely buy movies from Google Play Movies and TV, maybe pretty sparse. There’s also a Live TV area, but it’ll only show up if you’ve signed up for YouTube TV. (A free trial is included in the box, but you’ll have to pay for it when the trial period finishes.)
You can either start watching anything right now or save it to your Watch List so you can discover it later. Google TV also employs a thumbs up/down method to assist you in improving the recommendations that it generates. Last but not least, there’s a somewhat decent built-in search option that can show you multiple methods to stream a specific movie or show, but it’s nothing near as powerful as Roku’s.
The interface isn’t groundbreaking and can feel a little basic at times, but those are our only significant criticisms so far; otherwise, Google TV appears to be simple to use and gets the job done.
All of the major players are supported, including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Sling, HBO Max, and Disney Plus, as well as over 6,500 lesser-known apps inherited from Android TV. The only major missing app is Apple TV, which is frustrating given that it does not support AirPlay.
- Even in low-bandwidth homes, you’ll get rock-solid streaming.
- There is a minor bit of noticeable pop-in during setup.
- 4K HDR (HDR10+, Dolby Vision) and Dolby Atmos are supported.
Chromecast with Google TV is a fantastic product that outperforms its competition. Google hasn’t been open about what’s going on inside the hardware at a system level, but we’ve encountered very few instances where the Chromecast’s performance decreased – especially once we decided the video we wanted to watch.
The only serious lag we experienced was when the Chromecast was first loading the UI, which took a few seconds but wasn’t a big deal. What has pleased us is that the hardware appears to perform well both near the router and further out where the signal is weaker, and that it seems to cope well with lower bandwidth… We wouldn’t recommend it if you’re planning on watching 4K HDR video.
The Chromecast with Google TV can broadcast in 1080p or 4K HDR, with support for HDR10+ and Dolby Vision – all of which we recommend trying out because they look great. The new Chromecast supports DTS, Dolby Audio, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Atmos codecs for audiophiles, but like HDR, you’ll need a compatible TV and/or sound system to hear them.
Both Dolby Vision and normal HD SDR feeds looked good on our TV, though don’t expect the streamer to perform any heavy lifting in terms of upscaling or post-processing. You will receive exactly what you see.
We recommend utilizing the remote to utilize Chromecast’s native Google TV app, which is where you’re most likely to discover it, to obtain streams in their highest resolution and high-end formats. If you just want material quickly, you can use the Chromecast with Google TV like any other Chromecast by casting from your web browser, iOS, or Android device, which is, as always, really easy.
The only significant issue we’ve encountered at the hardware level is that the Chromecast with Google TV does not yet support Stadia. That isn’t likely to be a deal breaker for everyone, but it is a minor snag for those looking for a streaming media player that can play the most recent games.
In terms of software, you may notice a slight lag on the main screen from time to time, but the user interface is generally snappy and responsive. In terms of search results, Google Assistant is hit-or-miss (questions such as “Who portrays Captain Kirk? offer confusing, and sometimes wrong, results), although it usually works as expected.
Is it worth it to get a Chromecast with Google TV?
If you want to buy it, you should…
You’re looking for a low-cost, simple-to-use streaming gadget.
We’ve always thought Chromecast was simple to use, but now that it comes with a control, even non-techies can appreciate Google’s low-cost, high-speed streaming device.
You’re all set to experiment with 4K HDR streaming.
You’ve always had 4K HDR streaming alternatives, but many of them are much more expensive than the Chromecast with Google TV. If you’ve already spent a lot of money on a 4K TV, Chromecast with Google TV is a terrific way to reclaim some of that money.
You’ve signed up for YouTube TV.
Google is basically giving away the Chromecast with Google TV to new YouTube TV users. This bargain, combined with the Live TV option on the Google TV interface, makes this the greatest streaming device for YouTube TV viewers.
If… don’t buy it.
You’ve signed up for Google Stadia.
If you’re a Google Stadia subscriber, you’ll want to keep your Chromecast Ultra for the time being because Chromecast with Google TV doesn’t support Google’s game-streaming service.
You’re primarily an iOS user who doesn’t have a Gmail account.
While multi-platform consumers will have no trouble switching between devices, deeply invested iOS customers who adore their Apple TV Plus subscription and can’t take the idea of having to utilize a Gmail account should probably pass on this streamer.
You’re looking for the best streaming gadget available.
Chromecast with Google TV will most likely bring thousands of people to the realm of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos – and as an entrance into the world of HiFi, that’s incredible. However, if you want the best performance of any streaming device, the Nvidia Shield TV or Apple TV 4K still take the prize. Here, you receive a little more than what you pay for, but not much more.