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Erika Rawes / Lifewire
Easy to set up
IR voice remote
4K and Dolby Vision
No Ethernet port
Interface looks a lot like Amazon’s
Wouldn’t power with only USB
Missing Apple TV Plus and Spectrum apps
The new Chromecast with Google TV is a feature-rich 4K rival to Amazon’s FireTV Stick, providing a new remote, a clean interface, and Google Assistant functionality.
We purchased the Chromecast with Google TV so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
Ok Google, give us a streaming device with 4K HDR and a voice remote with Google Assistant, and make it cost less than $50. The new Chromecast with Google TV is positioned to be one of the best streaming devices, with a new remote and a slew of other feature upgrades. But with competition from Amazon’s ultra-affordable new Amazon’s FireTV stick, as well as Roku’s lineup of streaming devices, is the new Chromecast with Google TV a worthy contender? I tested the Chromecast with Google TV for a few days to find out, taking special interest in its design, setup process, streaming performance, software, and features.
The Chromecast with Google TV is a small oval-shaped device that comes in three colors: snow (white), sunrise (peach), or sky (blue). I tested the snow color for this review. The device is fairly small, clocking in at only about three inches tall. But at 2.4 inches in width, it’s wider than most stick-style streaming devices, so it has about a 3-inch HDMI cable that protrudes from one side that you plug into your TV’s HDMI port. The small HDMI cable on the end allows you to plug the device into your TV or receiver without blocking other ports.
On the opposite side of the Chromecast, there's a female USB-C port where you plug in the USB power adapter. I wasn’t able to power the Chromecast via USB like I can with some other streaming sticks, so I had to plug the power supply into a wall outlet. I was disappointed when it gave me an error message as I tried to use the TV’s USB port as a power source. I also didn’t like that the Chromecast lacks an Ethernet port for wired connectivity. However, I do appreciate the small size and the direct plug-in style, as streaming boxes tend to take up unnecessary space.
Google created a well-designed remote for the new Chromecast. It has an oblong shape that matches the device well, and it feels intuitive. The volume buttons are positioned on the side, right where your thumb rests, and it has the compass-style controls to navigate through different menus. You’ll also find shortcuts for the home menu, Netflix, YouTube, and Google Assistant directly on the remote.
The Google TV remote can control your TV or soundbar, so you don’t need to keep track of more than one remote control.
Setting up the Chromecast is simple, but you’ll need a Google account and the Google Home app installed. If you already have the Home app, setup is even easier. Add the included AAA batteries to the remote, and set it aside. Plug the device into a free HDMI port on your TV or A/V receiver, and plug the power cord into one end of the Chromecast and the other end into a power outlet. After you have power and put your TV on the correct input, you’ll need to add the device to the Google Home app. The Chromecast will provide you with a QR code to scan, and the app will walk you through setup with easy prompts.
You may need to pair your remote to your Chromecast, which simply involves holding down the back and home buttons. The Chromecast will also walk you through how to control your TV, receiver, or soundbar with the remote, as it has IR technology. Overall, the process took less than 10 minutes, and I didn’t experience any hiccups whatsoever.
When I moved the Chromecast from my main entertainment room (which uses a projector and A/V receiver) to a room with a different TV, I was able to just plug it in and immediately start using it without any additional setup steps.
The Chromecast with Google TV has a user-friendly interface, great video features, and speedy performance. The main home screen has content from different streaming providers, so you don't necessarily have to enter each individual app to find your favorite shows, documentaries, or movies. This is really convenient, and the main "for you" screen had content I was actually interested in watching.
The only problem with this is that it lists paid and free movies together in the same areas, making it tough to tell the difference until you actually scroll onto (or near) the content. It frustrated me when I saw Wonder Woman trending on Google, and thought to myself, "Ooh, I'll watch that later," only to see the movie cost $3.99 when I scrolled onto it. On the bright side, the new Chromecast supports up to 4K HDR at 60 frames per second, as well as different video HDR formats like Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+. It boasts Dolby Atmos compatibility too.
The Chromecast with Google TV has a user-friendly interface, great video features, and speedy performance.
The new Chromecast works on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz network bands, so it felt pretty fast even though it didn't have a hardwired Ethernet connection. I didn't experience any instances where the system would freeze, and apps and shows opened quickly.
The Chromecast runs on Android TV as its operating system, but it's a version of Android TV designed for Google. It has almost all of the popular streaming apps including Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Disney Plus, Prime Video, YouTube TV, HBO Max, and Peacock. It doesn't have the Spectrum app or Apple TV Plus, but it does have Kodi, Plex, Crunchyroll, and countless others.
In the first half of 2021, the Chromecast with Google TV is supposed to be getting support for Stadia. If you want Stadia, you can use Google’s gaming service on a Chromecast Ultra, sideload the application onto Chromecast with Google TV now, or wait until Google officially releases it. You can also play other (non-Stadia) games using your remote like PAC Man, Crossy Road, and Orbia.
The Google Assistant on your remote adds a lot of utility to the Chromecast with Google TV. You can voice-search for content, ask questions, and even control your smart devices. For instance, if you install smart lights in your TV room, you don’t even need a smart speaker. You can just say, “OK Google, turn off the TV room lights” without getting up from the couch.
The Google TV remote can control your TV or soundbar, so you don’t need to keep track of more than one remote control. Power on your TV, adjust the volume, or even use the cast function to mirror your Chrome browser to your TV. Plus, with Google TV having about 5,500 apps to choose from, you can add a number of different applications to your interface to customize your experience. The new Chromecast has a promotion right now where it comes with $60 off your first three months of YouTube TV if you need a live TV option (expires January 31, 2021).
Privacy is also essential when you’re dealing with any type of voice assistant. You can adjust your privacy settings under your account information in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, essentially changing which applications have permission to do what.
You can just say, “OK Google, turn off the TV room lights” without getting up from the couch.
The Chromecast with Google TV sells for $50, which is significantly more than the $30 Chromecast 3rd gen, but the addition of the voice remote makes it worth the extra cost. It includes almost everything you could want—HDR picture quality, Atmos sound, TV controls, a small profile, and Google Assistant—in a device that’s still pretty affordable.
Amazon’s newest Fire TV Stick comes in a regular version, which retails for $40, and a Lite version, which has a retail price of $30. The regular version has controls for your TV and soundbar, while the Lite version lacks these controls. The regular new Fire TV also has Dolby Atmos, while the Lite version only has Atmos pass-through. Both versions provide HD streaming, but not 4K streaming like the more expensive Chromecast with Google TV. You’d need a FireTV Stick 4K to stream in the higher resolution.
Both new Fire TV Sticks feature Alexa voice control and a quad-core 1.7GHz processor. The Chromecast has a 1.9GHz quad-core processor (according to GFXBench), so it’s just slightly better than the new Fire TV sticks in terms of CPU power.
If you’re looking for a super-cheap streaming stick that’ll do the job for a low price, and you don’t need 4K resolution, the Fire TV Stick Lite is an ideal pick. You can sometimes even find the device on sale for less than $20. For those who want a more complete streaming stick with more bells and whistles and 4K HDR streaming, the new Chromecast with Google TV is the better option.
Quick and high quality, there’s a lot to love about the new Chromecast.
The Chromecast with Google TV provides a comprehensive streaming experience, with excellent video quality, Google Assistant, and an all-encompassing remote control. It’s a great competitor to the Amazon Fire TV with its slick interface and responsive processor.
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