Chromecast with Google TV review: A love-hate relationship

The Chromecast was an established player in streaming, long before Google's push for hardware branding and the Pixel smartphones. It was one of the most cost-effective and reliable ways to stream video on your TV. Millions of people loved the idea of a cheap Chromecast that could play any video from their phone, whether it was the $35 Chromecast Ultra with 4K or the more costly Chromecast Ultra with 35K. The Chromecast is starting to feel old as streaming media has grown in popularity over the past few years. The Chromecast's functionality is limited in comparison to Rokus like Amazon's Fire TV Sticks and Apple TV. VPN Deals: A lifetime license is $16 and monthly plans are $1 & More. This has now changed. Chromecast with Google TV has been the most significant update to the Chromecast series. It brings it up to parity with its competition and introduces a new user interface. Although it may not be what Chromecast fans expected, it is the best Android TV box that you can purchase in 2021.
Chromecast with Google TV at a glance. Bottom line: Chromecast with Google TV has a lot to offer that previous Chromecasts, which is a good thing. The latest streaming device from Google has everything you need, including 4K HDR support and Dolby Vision. It also includes a remote control and Atmos for the first-ever time. The Chromecast with Google TV is one of the most popular new products from Google. Pros 4K HDR streaming

Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos

Fast, responsive performance

Google TV is great at curating content

Great remote cons No fast forward/rewind buttons

Google TV integration is not available for all streaming apps

Best Buy: Not enough storage

Walmart: $50

$50 at B&H

Google TV price and availability for Chromecast

Source: Joe Maring/Android Central

Google TV and Chromecast launched September 30, 2020. The Chromecast with Google TV replaced the aging Chromecast U Ultra. It is now the most powerful Chromecast available. The Chromecast retails at $50, with the option to purchase it from Best Buy, Walmart and Target as well as the Google Store. The Chromecast with Google TV is rarely sold, so don’t expect to see any huge discounts, even though it’s been around for more than a year. What I love about Chromecast with Google TV

Source: Joe Maring/Android Central

Let's get to the fun stuff first: the Chromecast's hardware. Although this isn't something that you will be looking at constantly, Google did a great job in making sure it looked nice and had all of the features you would expect from a 2021 media device. Chromecast is made of matte plastic. It connects to your TV using the included HDMI cable. The Chromecast's USB-C port connects to the power cable that plugs into the AC adapter. You can stream 4K at 60fps and HDR10 and HDR10+, as well as Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and HDR10 and HDR10+.

There are three colors available from Google: Snow, Sunrise, or Sky. These colors can be referred to as white, pink, or blue. Your choice of color will affect the Chromecast's color, as well the appearance and function of the remote. This is a very small Google feature. This Chromecast is the first to have an explicit visual interface, and it also has a remote.

Google did an amazing job designing the remote. The buttons are clicky and easy to use. You'll find the Google Assistant button on all modern Android TV boxes. This button can be held down to speak to the Assistant at any moment. The Assistant works faster than on older Android TV boxes. And the contoured button makes it easy for you to find even when it's dark in your living room. You're likely to have also noticed the YouTube or Netflix buttons. While some people may not like the branding of buttons like these, I find it acceptable for me. The quick access is a big plus for me as someone who uses both of these services. Although you cannot officially remap Netflix's button, it is possible to do so by pressing and holding the YouTube button. This will allow you to switch between the main YouTube app, YouTube TV, YouTube Kids or YouTube Music. It's a nice feature. The Chromecast with Google TV excels in all these areas. It is easy to set-up, navigates through menus and apps with no problems, and video content looks great. The remote doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of all this (I'm thinking of you, Apple TV).

Source: Joe Maring/Android Central

But that's only one aspect of the gadget. We now know the Chromecast's capabilities, let's talk about the Google TV experience. Are you ready for a spoiler alert? It's really good.

Although Android TV is the operating system that powers this Chromecast, the interface has been completely redesigned. Google TV's main objective is to make it easier to find what you want to watch. You can also navigate to dedicated pages/home screens. These include: Search Recommended commands for Google Assistant, movie/TV show genres browsing through specific types of content.

This is your main home page. It displays top content, installed apps, and recommended content based upon your watchlist, genres, etc.

Live (optional). An integrated channel guide that only appears if YouTube TV is enabled and installed.

Movies You can browse through a variety of movies to view.

You can browse through a variety of TV shows that you want to see.

Apps All your apps installed, with integrated Play Store access to download new ones.

Google Play (now Google TV) allows you to access library movies and shows that you already own.

Although I'm sure that many Android TV zealots were disappointed to see the new layout, my experience with it has been fantastic a year later. It's much easier to find shows to watch with this interface. It has been easy to find shows that I like, and the recommendations are good. You can add shows/movies and indicate whether you like it or not to your watchlist. Although it can be overwhelming with three pages that give you suggestions of what to watch (For You and Movies), it is far more user-friendly than the bloated app channels available on the Android TV interface.

Quick note on Google TV vs. Android TV Source : Joe Maring/Android Central If you are unsure about Google TV and how it differs to Android TV, this quick explanation will help. Although the Chromecast's core operating system is Android TV, which is based on Android 10, Google has added the Google TV software experience to it. So, all apps you use on Android TV will also work on Google TV. Google TV was initially only available for the new Chromecast. However, Google has expanded the interface to third party hardware over the years. Google also rebranded Google Play Movies & TV to become Google TV. It functions almost the same way, showing you both content that you can purchase directly from Google and content you can view through third-party apps. It's only getting a new look and being promoted more as a companion app for the Chromecast with Google TV.

Source: Android Central

When you find the right movie, click on it to see a brief description and the Rotten Tomatoes score. It then auto-plays the trailer in the background and presents the best way to watch it. For example, clicking Solo: A Star Wars Story will bring up Disney+ as the first place to view it. I can choose another title from Netflix, Hulu or some other service to show it on the first button.

Almost all the recommended shows on the For You page, except for the Trending On Google section, are from apps/services that you have indicated you subscribed to. You'll notice a small lock icon next the item and its rental price if it's not available for purchase or rent. Google has done a great job of integrating all major streaming apps into the Google TV experience. It started with three dozen apps, and it has steadily grown over the past year. However, it still lacks niche services. Everything else about Google TV has been great. It's great that the Google TV app is integrated into the whole interface, rather than being an individual application like Apple's TV app. This makes it ten times easier for me to find new shows and adds them to my Google TV watchlist. All these features wouldn't matter if Google didn't have a lot of support services. Having almost all the major streaming apps integrated into Google TV from day one makes it a complete product and not a work in progress. This is a huge deal, especially coming from Google. Chromecast with Google TV: What can be improved?

Source: Joe Maring/Android Central

Google has just about hit the mark with Chromecast with Google TV. However, I would like to see some minor changes for the Gen 2 model. Although I love the overall design and feel of this remote, the lack of dedicated buttons for fast forward, play/pause, or rewind is irritating. If it meant that I could get more functionality, I would be happy to have the remote slightly longer or wider. I hope Google will consider it. Although it would be nice to have backlit buttons or a lost remote feature, given the cost of the Chromecast, it is understandable why not all of these features were included. Third-party Bluetooth remotes or game controllers can be used. Many apps have triggers that work in fast forward and rewind. Storage is the only problem with Chromecast with Google TV. Google needed to cut costs, so the Chromecast only comes with 8GB storage. The Chromecast comes with only half the storage for apps and files. This means you can use it quickly without worrying about running out of space. This is not a problem if there are many streaming subscriptions. Most people only pay for 3 to 5. You might consider a NVIDIA Shield TV with additional storage if you are a streaming addict. Stadia was not available at launch but it was made available this summer. The user profiles promised at launch were also finally added in October 2021. Google TV Chromecast

Source: Android Central

Chromecast with Google TV is a joy to use. But before you make any purchase decision, remember that there are a lot of strong competition. Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is the direct competitor. It offers 4K HDR streaming with Dolby Vision/Atmos at the same $50 price. The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K comes with an Alexa voice remote that controls volume for your TV and 8GB storage to store all your apps. There is a major difference in the software that they use. The Fire TV Stick places more emphasis on Prime Video content than the other. The Chromecast will soon get Stadia support, while the Fire TV Stick supports Amazon Luna game streaming. TiVo Stream 4K is another option. It's similar to the Chromecast and is an Android TV-powered device that supports 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision. The device runs Android TV's regular version, but comes with TiVo Stream, which is similar to Google TV's ability to display personalized content from subscriptions. It costs only $49.

The NVIDIA Shield 4K is also worth mentioning. Before the new Chromecast, this was the recommended Android TV. There are still some things that it does better than Google. The remote is much more functional. You can expand your storage with a microSD card. NVIDIA's 4KAI upscaling feature, which is amazing, is also available. The software interface of the device is still Android TV. It's possible that it will be upgraded to Google TV in 2021. However, this has not been confirmed. The $150 price tag is also something to be aware of. Chromecast with Google TV: Should you buy it

Source: Joe Maring/Android Central

This Chromecast with Google TV is a great option if you want to stream 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision content. All three components of high-quality streaming are available on the Chromecast. The Chromecast with Google TV supports 4K at 60fps and HDR10 and HDR10+, as well as Dolby Vision, which allows you to see shows that use the format. Dolby Atmos supports dynamic audio in supported configurations. The new Google TV layout is designed to make streaming easier. While most streaming devices offer intuitive user interfaces, it stands out from the rest. It's a great feature that allows you to organize all your content in one place, and it also makes recommendations based on how often you use it. This is a huge advantage in an age where there are so many new streaming apps. The Chromecast with Google TV doesn't cost too much. It costs only $50 and is a great choice for anyone on a budget. It shouldn't be surprising to find it for less at the price of Google, which regularly discounts its products. This product should not be purchased if you... Want 4K scaling NVIDIA's Shield TV 4K upscaling feature really impressed us. It made HD content look as good as native 4K content. This feature is not available on the Chromecast with Google TV. Google TV offers 8GB storage, but you may need more. While that is enough for most people, some power-users might need more. The new Chromecast doesn't support microSD cards so you won’t be able to expand storage. Apple TV+ is a popular app. However, the selection of apps for Android TV has improved in recent years. There are still some gaps. The Apple TV app is currently the most prominent missing feature. You might consider buying something else if you are a frequent user of Apple TV+. 4 out of 5 I was most excited about the Chromecast with Google TV in the lead up to its announcement. Android TV has always been a problem to me. Although it's a solid platform, Google didn't seem to care about it. Although it took a while to get a first-party streaming device, it was worth the wait. Although the Chromecast with Google TV may not be as feature-rich or as detailed as an NVIDIA Shield TV (or similar), it is amazing as a device that streams video and helps you find what to watch. Google TV is a remarkable leap forward in Google's presence in your living room, despite the confusing branding. Google TV is a useful tool that helps to clarify confusion, especially in an age where streaming services and licensing agreements are becoming more complex. As other hardware gets the Google TV interface in the next months, we'll be able to see how the Chromecast does. However, the Chromecast will still be an affordable $50 streaming device with 4K, great remote control and speedy performance. This Chromecast was a great success, and I think Roku and Amazon should pay close attention.

Chromecast for living room with Google TV. The Chromecast and Google TV are the beginning of a new vision. Google TV's new interface is an enormous upgrade. It makes it much easier to find the content you are looking for and where it can be viewed. Google landed the landing with highly capable hardware at a remarkable price. $50 at Best Buy

Walmart: $50

$50 at B&H

Review Changelog, Oct 2021. This article was first published in January 2021. The following modifications were made to the article in October 2021. Changelog added.

Current pricing and availability.

Added 1 Year Review. Chromecast with Google TV A year later review Source : Android Central I have been using my Chromecast with Google TV for at least four hours every day since its release 15 months ago. The remote is still my favorite. I purchased a blue one at the Google Store to add some style. Most apps still work as smoothly as they did on day one. There is one problem. Every time I update these apps, it gets me in the Achilles heel. There is 0 bytes data available. Google shipped the Chromecast with 8 gigabytes storage. After they have installed the operating system, you can now access 4.4GB. There are 14 apps that I have installed, which takes up 3.6GB. 8MB screen shots (screenshots), and 84MB cached data. 6MB of miscellaneous data is also stored. My Chromecast has 0B. There is absolutely no space left. To make space, I had two apps deleted the last time I updated an app. Although it may seem small, this streaming TV stick is very capable of streaming video. It should have all of your streaming apps installed so they are all logged in and ready to go for a quick six-hour marathon. They might not fit, especially if they aren't all compatible with the Chromecast, particularly if you are a Twitch or sports fan, where each app is its own. The Chromecast with Google TV is fantastic in every other aspect. It is easy to set-up, Google Assistant works fast and consistently, even with complex actions such as rewinding and skipping ahead, and it is affordable. USB-C allows you to plug in a USB hub to add Ethernet, keyboard (for logging in more easily into apps), or a portable hard disk full of movies. They are easy to use and will fill up your storage quickly, which is why I would recommend them to anyone I know. Google finally offers multiple profile support, so my recommendations won't be contaminated when my family visits it. More apps are also partnering with Google TV to make your content matrix more relevant. Google has fixed most of the bugs that we found in its initial months. However, system updates cannot fix the storage hole that Google has created. Chromecast with Google TV 4 Months Later Review Source: Ara Wagoner/Android Central It's been four months since Chromecast's launch in late-2020. And it's had a very turbulent life. While the core experience with Google TV is still amazing, there have been a number of software glitches and bugs as people get more Chromecasts. These bugs can be caused by underpowered specs, or OS kinks that are still being fixed. Here's an overview of the problems some users are experiencing.

Support for Dolby Vision or Atmos is sporadic.

Wi-Fi turns itself off randomly

Apps won't launch or stop working. This is my experience with Chromecast. There have been a few instances when the Wi-Fi turned off, YouTube has sometimes played audio with black screens while trying to view a video, and Chromecast has a tendency to shut down while it is still playing something. Although these bugs make using Chromecast less intuitive than it appears right out of the box I still enjoy my time with the device. Google TV's interface looks great, I have been exposed to many shows/movies that I wouldn't have known about, and it has been so convenient to have my watchlist synced with the Google TV app on the phone. I am not sure if I would recommend that others buy the Chromecast with Google TV. The Google TV software is an excellent way to stream in a world that has new services every day. The value proposition is unbeatable at $50. However, I am unsure if this is something I would recommend to my parents. They will need to unplug the device and plug it back in each day if it goes down. Google has released a new system update to address random crashes and improve 4K60 support. The Google TV platform is worth trying if you are aware of the current bugs and can deal with occasional wonks. If you prefer to be safe and not worry about it, you can go out and buy a Roku and Fire TV Stick. While the Chromecast with Google TV can be a stunning piece of streaming hardware, it is not always reliable. This is a major problem.