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Google announced a new streaming dongle, and it probably comes with the best evidence that cyclical timing: the new Chromecast runs “Google TV”. No, it’s not that Google TV ̵1; something new based on Android but designed for TVs. No, it’s not that Android TV. I know, it’s hard to understand. It’s no wonder the dongle is essentially a better version of the Chromecast Ultra. It streams 4K video, has a remote, and has some new features in Google TV. It’s true that the new Google TV isn’t perfect, but at $ 50 it’s hard to complain about.
Design, hardware, what’s in the box
The new Chromecast looks very similar to most of Google’s recent hardware. It’s a round brick that has some unsaturated colors, and like the previous generation Chromecast, it has a subtle G logo in the middle. A short cable has an HDMI connector extending from one end and the other end has the power port. I’m glad to see that Google switched to USB-C this time, not because the microUSB cable on the old Chromecast was a specific annoyance. How often do you really need to unplug the Chromecast? I just think USB-C is neat. There’s not much else to say about the software protector itself – it will go behind your TV and if everything goes according to plan, you will rarely keep an eye on it.
Google added a remote to this mix list this time around, and I’m happy with this upgrade even if that’s all Google did to create the new Chromecast, you know, New. It is similar in size and shape to the Roku’s remote. At the top, you have a d-pad and select / play / pause buttons. Below that, there are back, Assistant, home screen, mute, YouTube, and Netflix. More two The branded buttons on the remote seem a bit like that with such a minimalistic design. On the bottom, the remote has TV input and power controls. The volume toggle button is on the side, which is another feature borrowed from Roku. Personally, I like the side-mounted volume controls.
When you press and hold the Assistant button, the microphone on your remote comes to life. A small LED on the bottom of the remote also lights up whenever the microphone is active. You can enter commands specific to the Google TV user interface, such as look up movies or TV shows. It also talks to the Assistant’s other things in your house like security cameras and lights. At least, you can usually do it – the Assistant looks very finicky on Chromecast right now.
In the box, you get the Chromecast, the remote control, and a USB-C power cable. There are also two AAA batteries hidden at the bottom of the box, so don’t forget to look for them. That will be everything you need to get up and running.
Software and performance
The new Chromecast has two “modes”. You can use it just like older Chromecasts to play videos from any compatible app on your phone. It also connects to the Google Home app for audio settings and groups. Another way to use the new Chromecast is to dive into the new Google TV software, but “new” could outsell it. It’s still Android that works on your TV, and it shares a lot of the elements with Android TV. Google TV works well enough on the new Chromecast. It basically doesn’t reduce frames or lag, but sometimes it takes a beat longer than I expected to launch apps or show content details. I’ve played a few simple games and they work well enough. However, there is not enough storage on the device to install anything required.
The GTV interface still has large boxes like Android TV but focuses on content rather than content-containing applications. The new home screen, named For You, aggregates streaming videos from all the apps you have installed. The idea is to show you everything you can see at that point in time without paying any extra – though, I’ve noticed some paid and disabled items sneaking in, This I will prepare for bug handling before the launch. There are trend-based recommendations, as well as a variety of genres that will come and go if you scroll down further. I feel like this display is better at rendering things I might want to watch than Android TV, and I like that it can more reliably recognize the content I paid for. Google has also added a watchlist feature to help you line up anything you might come across for future use.
Google TV also has a built-in TV – there’s a tab dedicated to live TV, and some live shows will appear on the For You screen. At launch, this feature only worked with YouTube TV. If you don’t have a subscription, the Live tab won’t appear on your desktop. Google says there will be more TV providers operating in the future. In the meantime, you can still launch apps like Sling and Hulu to watch live TV without integrating all the home screens. The TV interface is very similar to the YouTube TV app (you can still launch and use it if you want), but access is faster. You can watch recordings, record content, and watch channels without opening the YTTV application. However, you need to make sure that your YouTube TV app is signed in with the same main account on the dongle. Otherwise, the home screen integration will not work. That’s an ongoing issue here – most features are locked to the dongle’s primary user.
The remote setup process is very smooth. After asking you to choose your audio and TV settings, it will program the IR blaster to control everything. I don’t think I’ll ever need to touch my TV remotes or soundbar because 90% of the time I turn them on / off or change the volume – I can do both with the Chromecast remote. There’s also no lag when using the remote after it’s been seated. Anyone who has used the NVIDIA Shield knows how frustrating it will be when the remote takes a few seconds to wake up.
Should you buy it?
Chromecast with Google TV
It’s correct. Even if this is only Chromecast supports 4K for $ 50 which would be a big win since the Chromecast Ultra retails for $ 70. That’s not all you get. New Chromecast has a remote control. Final! The remote works well for controlling Google TV, which is also a new feature of the Chromecast lineup. I was not sold when I rebranded Android TV, but it still happens.
Google TV is still Android and it looks a lot like Android TV. However, Google is seeing this as a completely separate product that runs on Android TV, and it will come to more devices next year. New layout and recommendation features take center stage, and most of them succeed. The For You screen shows a lot of content that is interesting to me (logging into four streaming apps), and it’s great that nothing on that screen will cost you more (typically). Live TV integration works, but I wish there were more live broadcast providers when it launched.
If Chromecast is your favorite streaming device, then the new version is without question. Google TV has some annoyances, but you can treat GTV as a bonus – you don’t have to use it. This device is still a fully functional Chromecast with remote control and I sold it.
Buy it if:
- You need a new 4K streaming device.
- You don’t want to play games on your TV.
Don’t buy it if:
- You want to play Android or Stadia games on your TV.
- You don’t want a remote and don’t have a 4K display.
Where to buy:
Google Store, Walmart, Best Buy
One month later
Since completing the review, I’ve been using my new Chromecast almost every day. If anything, I like it even more than I did before. I don’t see noticeable glitches, slowdowns, or errors during operation. I love having a remote, especially one that works with my TV and sound system. The voice search ability was invaluable to me as well. Just hold the Assistant button and let Google know what you want to see and boom, it’s there. Google TV is smart enough to provide exact streaming options, and if you’ve subscribed to the right service, one click will get you streaming. The process is smoother and more accurate than using Assistant on other devices, and hopefully you end up with the right content on your screen. So it seems the Assistant I encountered before the weirdness no longer exists.
This update isn’t just for me – unlike a phone, a device plugged into your TV will affect anyone else who uses it. My wife refuses to use NVIDIA Shield because of the remote, it takes about 20 years to wake up from sleep. She also complains that the boxes on the screen never show anything she cares about. She wasn’t wrong about any of them. However, she loves Chromecast and Google TV because of the remote control, voice feature, and suggestions. She even asked some of her friends to buy one when they were looking for a new streaming device. These aren’t meticulous people, and they appreciate the simple, easy-to-understand setup process and integration with streaming services.
I might like to add storage or support for Stadia in the first place, but Google has its fundamentals very true with Chromecast. This device is absolutely worth $ 50, even in a world with cheap Fire TV and Rokus. If it goes on sale this holiday season, I would probably buy a few more to equip other TVs in the house and as gifts. I still want to see how the new Chromecast handles Stadia. I know a few people who have downloaded Android apps, but it’s the implementation of Google that matters. If this device can stream 4K games without overheating, that would be the best.