Chromecast review with Google TV
Google Chromecast with Google TV: is it worth your purchase?
- Remote control
- Google Assistant
- 4K with extensive HDR support
- It won’t be compatible with Stadia until 2021
- Can’t change user
It’s not perfect, but Google may improve the new Chromecast over time. With a remote control, a great user interface, and the Assistant, Google is in its best position to challenge Roku, Amazon, and Apple.
Retail price (RRP)
Chromecast review with Google TV
Google has returned this time with a new version of its Chromecast media streamer and this time it incorporates two elements that I have been waiting for a long time: a remote control and a user interface.
This, along with the affordable price, puts the Chromecast with Google TV in a great place to take on Roku, Amazon, and Apple.
The improvements here really put the Chromecast more in line with the rivals and add extra stuff as well. There are some problems but nothing that Google cannot fix with updates and users are going to really benefit from browsing content through a wide range of services and using the Assistant.
Design and build quality
After a circular design like a puck , Google has switched to a more oval pebble style for the dongle . It’s slightly larger and there’s still a flexible cable leading to the HDMI port, albeit without magnets to hold them together.
None of this should matter anyway, as the Chromecast will sit hidden behind your TV. It is available in Snow, Sunrise and Sky. I’m not a big fan of colors and although the main device is hidden, the remote is a shade lighter than the main backpack.
The remote is the most important design element here, as you will be using it a lot, although you can still launch it from multiple devices if you want. As you can see, Google even supplies stacks of matching colors in the box, which is a nice touch, but unnecessary.
So the controller is compact without being uncomfortable to hold and once the batteries are in, it has a well balanced weight.
It’s like Google has taken the remote control of the Daydream VR headset and made it a lot better. You have dedicated buttons for Netflix, YouTube, and the Google Assistant along with the usual navigation buttons you expect.
A circular pad at the top is used to move around the interface and there is an ok button in the middle. The only thing I’d change is that button as it’s slightly on the awkward little side of things.
What many remote controls can’t do is control the TV with power and source buttons. It connects to the Chromecast via Bluetooth but it also has infrared to activate this function.
There are also small volume buttons on the side that can control your TV or the soundbar. This makes it much easier to set up and may mean that it is the only remote you need to pick up most of the time.
I found it easy to set up for my Philips TV and Sonos soundbar, although the source button does nothing. However, I never use that feature anyway and you can probably try more infrared codes until I do.
The remote doesn’t have a headphone jack like some older Roku’s, but you can plug in Bluetooth headphones if you want to listen privately. A great feature that Google doesn’t advertise at all.
In addition to operating the remote control with the television, operating the Chromecast with the television is simple.
Google has cleverly given the option to do it all through the Home app, which means you can quickly do it from your phone instead of slowly typing passwords on the TV screen.
Unlike some older Chromecasts, my TV’s USB port was not able to provide enough power so the supplied adapter was necessary.
You should also be careful about the HDMI port you use. Chromecast with Google TV supports 4K HDR output (Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10 +) but even my high-end Philips needs it to be connected to HDMI 1 or 2. Your TV may not be the same, but a handy appears message that says.
Depending on the TV, if you plug it into the wrong port, the picture can be much worse.
As mentioned above, you can still use the Chromecast with Google TV like previous models. Find content via apps on your phone or other device and hit the cast button when you’re ready to cast it to the Chromecast.
It works, but I’ve always preferred to use a Roku because of its remote control and user interface. Navigating the content on the big screen is much easier and can be seen by other people in the room if you are making a joint decision on what to watch.
So it’s great to see Google follow this path, although the Google TV brand is a bit confusing as it is based on the Android TV operating system, which many of you will learn about through television.
It will become the norm as it is not exclusive to this Chromecast and will come to future smart TVs, including Sony. Some of the existing devices can also be upgraded.
The new interface looks great and is much more than just a grid of app icons so you can choose which of your streaming services you want to launch.
Once you connect to everything, the main “For you” brings content from all the different services so that you can browse in one place. Beneath a carousel of featured articles, there are plenty of content tracks to browse.
Most of the time, it’s easy to see which streaming services which show or movie is available on. It says below, but not all the time. You still have a riot of application icons that you can rearrange and there are other interface tabs for Movies, Shows, Applications and Library.
The interface is agile and intuitive as to where everything is. Even if you don’t want to navigate the content rails, you can switch to an apps-only view if you want. The Google Assistant is just a button away, which means you can simply ask for things.
It’s not perfect and is more hard of hearing than other Google devices, but it generally delivers decent results as long as you’re not asking for an overly complicated request. It’s often the quickest way to get things done, as you can just say “Play with our planet” and the Chromecast will know you’re on Netflix.
Interestingly, I have an intermittent problem with audio popping when Assistant speaks, but other reviews don’t mention it, so it doesn’t seem to be a widespread problem.
In addition to requesting content, for example, “Show me the Emma Stone movies,” you can use the Google Assistant as you would on other devices. Ask for the weather forecast, control your smart home devices and much more.
When not in use, the Chromecast with Google TV works like Nest Hub’s smart displays, capable of displaying a cycle of images, either a curated set of images, or it can display the contents of your Google Photos library by turning your TV into a giant digital photo frame.
As it stands, the Chromecast with Google TV doesn’t have apps for everything. Still, there is a lot to see from streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, ITV Hub, and many more.
An even more surprising thing missing is Google’s own Stadia gaming service. I was hoping it was part of the system, considering the Chromecast Ultra has been on the market for a long time.
However, Google is going to bring stadium support in the first half of 2021, so you just have to wait a bit. It should be noted that the power adapter does not have an Ethernet port like the one on the Ultra, so you will have to use Wi-Fi or get a third-party one if you really need a cable.
It’s not just about streaming , as there are a ton of apps available because this is Android TV. There are tons of games, tools like VPNs, education, lifestyle, and more.
One thing that some users may dislike is using multiple accounts. Like Fire TV devices, this is really all about the main account. You can add a secondary one for apps like YouTube, but the recommendations on the home screen are based on the primary user.
This is a problem if you want a lot of different people to use the device. However, you can still make use of profiles within apps like Netflix, so it’s not the end of the world.
Aside from the strange issues we’ve mentioned, the Chromecast with Google TV is an excellent streaming device.
The addition of a remote control and interface are a great help and of course you can still cast as normal if you want. You can even connect a Bluetooth headset for private listening.
The lack of support for stadiums is a shame, but it’s coming next year and Google will certainly improve other areas with software updates anyway. That might not include multiple users, but it’s a similar story elsewhere, so it’s not unusual.
Whether you have an old Chromecast or are looking for your first media streamer, the Chromecast with Google TV is a great option.
- Google TV (Android TV OS)
- HDMI output up to 4K @ 60fps
- HDR, HDR10 +, Dolby Vision
- USB-C for power
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz)
- Remote control with Google Assistant
- 162x61x12.5mm (dongle)
- 55g (dongle)
- 122x38x18mm (remote)
- 63g (remote)
- Snow, sunrise or sky
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