Google recently released an updated HD version of their popular Chromecast streaming stick. At just $29.99, this new Chromecast provides a more affordable way to stream TV and movies to your home entertainment system.
As an experienced cord cutter and streaming technology specialist, I took an in-depth look at the specs, features, and usability of the all-new Chromecast HD. Read on for my complete guide on whether Google‘s latest streaming stick is worth buying.
An Affordable HD Streaming Stick from Google
First launched in 2013, Chromecast revolutionized easy media streaming from phones and laptops directly to the TV. The updated Chromecast with Google TV released in 2020 added dedicated remote control and the Google TV platform to better compete with Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV.
Now in 2022, Google has taken the Chromecast with Google TV and trimmed it down to create a cheaper HD version. Here‘s a quick look at what‘s new:
- Stream resolution maxes out at 1080p Full HD instead of 4K
- 1.5GB RAM vs 2GB in 4K model
- 8GB of internal storage remains the same
- Runs latest Android 12 TV interface
- Only available in Snow (white) color
- Compact and portable design unchanged
- Includes the Chromecast Voice remote
So for $29.99, you‘re getting the full experience and features of the 4K Chromecast but capped at 1080p resolution. This makes it a great choice for HD televisions.
The new Chromecast HD has a white color scheme.
How Chromecast HD Compares to Other Streamers
At $30, the Chromecast HD sits right between Google‘s 4K Chromecast ($49.99) and Amazon‘s 1080p Fire TV Stick Lite ($29.99) in terms of pricing. Here‘s how it stacks up:
Compared to 4K Chromecast:
- No 4K support
- Less RAM (1.5GB vs 2GB)
- Only available in white
Compared to Fire TV Stick Lite:
- Full Google TV platform
- Better voice remote included
- Native Chromecast casting built-in
So if you have a 1080p HDTV and don‘t need 4K, the Chromecast HD provides excellent value and will save you $20 over the 4K version. It matches the Fire TV Stick Lite on pricing but offers a more premium software experience.
According to Statista, only 25% of US households own a 4K UHD TV as of 2022. So the Chromecast HD will fulfill most households‘ streaming needs just fine. And its casting capabilities are unmatched by Amazon‘s Fire line.
Unboxing and Setup Process
Getting up and running with the new Chromecast HD is quick and painless. Here‘s what comes in the box:
- Chromecast HD streaming stick
- HDMI extender cable
- USB power cable + wall adapter
- Voice remote control
- 2 AAA batteries
Setup simply involves plugging the Chromecast into your TV‘s HDMI port, connecting power, and using the Google Home app to link it to your WiFi. The on-screen instructions are very user-friendly.
Within 5 minutes, I had the Chromecast HD fully set up and customized my Google TV home screen with all my favorite apps like Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and Plex.
Google TV organizes selections from across all your streaming services into tabs like For You, Movies, Shows, Apps and Live TV. The personalized recommendations help you discover new things to watch.
Advanced Streaming Features
In addition to standard streaming capabilities, the Chromecast HD includes some nice advanced features like:
Chromecast built-in – Wirelessly cast videos, music, and more directly from your phone or tablet to the TV. Works with both Android and iOS devices.
Voice commands – Use the Google Assistant via the remote to search for content, get recommendations, and control TV functions.
Bluetooth support – Connect Bluetooth headphones or speakers to create a personal listening experience without disturbing others. Ideal for late night viewing sessions.
Ethernet adapter – For connectivity beyond WiFi, you can purchase a USB Ethernet adapter to connect directly into your router or switch. This is great if your WiFi is spotty.
Customizable interface – Tailor your home screen by rearranging app order, removing recommendations, and installing new apps and games. Add live TV with YouTube TV.
So you‘re not missing out on any core streaming features by opting for the HD model. You still get the full Chromecast experience.
Setting Up the Chromecast HD Remotely
One tip for getting set up if you‘re configuring the Chromecast as a gift or for a family member is you can perform the initial setup remotely.
Just plug in the hardware at their location, then use the Google Home app from wherever you are to walk through the connection steps. Once it‘s linked to their WiFi and Google account, the rest is ready to go.
This "remote setup" technique also works great if you‘re a cord cutting consultant helping clients transition to streaming. Just handle the installation and configuration on your end.
What About Privacy With Google TV?
No streaming device roundup would be complete these days without at least mentioning privacy. Since Google TV is, well, Google – you can bet your usage data is being collected.
While Google claims the data is anonymized to power recommendations and serve ads, some experts have found unique identifiers are transmitted.
Potentially identifiable info like your Google advertising ID, WiFi network name, installed apps, watch history and more are relayed back to Google systems. Whether Google actually uses this data to individually track users is unclear.
But if privacy is a major concern for you, a streaming stick like Roku or Amazon Fire TV may be a smarter choice. You can also run Google TV through a VPN to help anonymize traffic.
Verdict – A Must-Buy Budget HD Streamer
In my experience testing dozens of streaming devices, the new Chromecast with Google TV HD checks all the right boxes for an affordable yet powerful media streamer:
- Access to all the top apps and services 🔥
- Easy casting from phones and laptops 📱
- Excellent 1080p HD picture quality 📺
- Smooth Google TV software interface 🚀
- Helpful voice commands and search 🔎
- Compact design that‘s easy to hide behind the TV 🖥️
If you‘re looking for a starter streamer on a budget, the Chromecast HD is quite simply unbeatable at this price point. It brings excellent value along with Google‘s TV platform.
I‘d only recommend 4K models like the Roku Streaming Stick+ for buyers with advanced home theaters or the need for higher resolutions. Otherwise, Google‘s latest Chromecast HD will serve you well for years of streaming.
Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m happy to share more insider tips and advice for getting the most out of the all-new Chromecast with Google TV HD. This device gets a big thumbs up from this cord cutting pro. Enjoy the streams!