Hi there! If you‘re thinking about purchasing Google‘s new Chromecast with Google TV streaming device, then you‘ve come to the right place.
After testing out the Chromecast for over a month now, I wanted to provide you with my complete review so you can decide if it‘s the right streaming player for your needs. I‘ll be going really in-depth on all aspects of this device based on my experience using it daily in my living room.
To start, let‘s take a look at exactly what the Chromecast with Google TV is and what it brings to the table. Then we‘ll dive into the key details on streaming performance, apps, Google TV, gaming, storage, and much more.
What is the Chromecast with Google TV?
The Chromecast line started years ago as simple and affordable devices that let you "cast" videos from your phone or computer to your TV screen. They didn‘t have any real interface – you always needed a phone to control them.
The new Chromecast with Google TV takes the concept to the next level by running Google‘s Android TV platform with the brand new Google TV software.
So what are the key things you need to know about it?
It streams video in up to 4K HDR quality with support for Dolby Vision. This allows for an amazing viewing experience.
The remote has Google Assistant built-in so you can use voice commands to search for content or ask questions.
Google TV provides personalized recommendations and organizes all your streaming services into one place. It aims to be your one hub for finding entertainment.
You can still cast videos and music from your phone or computer if you want. But the remote allows full control without any casting needed.
There‘s 8GB of on-board storage for installing your favorite apps and games. And you can add more storage via the USB-C port.
Retails for just $50 which is very affordable compared to other 4K streamers.
The Chromecast with Google TV brings together streaming capabilities, the Google Assistant, and the extensive Android app ecosystem into a compact and easy-to-use device. Read on for the full review!
Unboxing and Setup Process
Let‘s start from the very beginning with what you‘ll see when you first open up the box. I purchased my Chromecast with Google TV from Best Buy for $49.99.
Inside the package you‘ll find:
- The Chromecast device itself
- The voice-enabled remote control
- Batteries for the remote
- Short HDMI extender cable
- Wall power adapter
- Some basic documentation
What‘s inside the box
That covers everything you need get started. The setup process is really quick and painless too. Just follow these steps:
- Plug the Chromecast into your TV‘s HDMI port
- Insert the batteries into the remote
- Connect the power cable to turn it on
- Use your phone and the Google Home app to connect to WiFi and your Google account
And that‘s it! The whole thing took me barely 5 minutes before I was presented with the main Google TV interface. Super simple.
It automatically installs the latest software and links to your Google account for syncing your apps and preferences. I was impressed that it quickly recognized all the streaming services I already subscribe to.
Connecting via WiFi worked perfectly and the remote instantly paired via Bluetooth. Overall, getting started with this device couldn‘t be much easier.
Hardware Design and Specs
Now let‘s discuss the physical device itself. The Chromecast has an understated oval design that almost melts into your surrounding entertainment setup.
It measures just 6.4 x 2.4 x 0.5 inches so it doesn‘t take up much space at all. And it‘s available in three classy color options: Snow, Sunrise, and Sky.
Angled view showing off the hardware
On the back is an HDMI port to plug into your TV and a USB-C port for power. There‘s no ethernet port unfortunately.
Powering the device is a quad-core ARM processor with 2GB of RAM, which provides plenty of horsepower for smooth streaming and multitasking. Storage is light at just 8GB onboard, but you can add more via external USB drives. It does support the latest WiFi 6 standard for excellent wireless performance.
Overall the hardware feels very solid with a sleek profile. Next let‘s dive into the Google TV experience.
Reviewing the Google TV Interface and UX
The star of the show is definitely Google‘s new TV interface previously known as Android TV. It aims to bring all your content together into one home screen with intelligent recommendations.
The interface feels very fluid and responsive thanks to that quad-core processing power. Animations and scrolling are smooth, with quick app launch times.
Here are some key things to know about Google TV from my testing:
- The home page shows personalized recommendations prominently at the top based on your viewing history and subscribed services. This "For You" section is handy but the suggestions aren‘t always perfect.
Google TV‘s home screen
You can scroll down to see rows dedicated to your favorite apps, movies, TV shows, and your personal media library. The organization is intuitive and helpful.
Built-in Google Assistant allows quick voice search for finding new shows or movies. Just press the mic button on the remote and speak.
Universal watchlist aggregates movies/shows from all your apps into one place. And universal search scans across services to find where something is playing.
Chromecast functionality is built-in to "cast" videos from your mobile device‘s apps if you want. This allows family and friends to easily share media from their phones.
Setup was seamless linking all my streaming apps and pulling in my preferences from my Google account.
Downsides: lack of customization options and stability issues occasionally encountered.
Overall I‘ve been very pleased with Google TV‘s interface. It brings all your content together into an easy-to-browse format compared to a stock Android TV launcher. And having your own personalized recommendations front and center is great.
It just needs some refinement and customization to allow re-ordering sections and removing elements you don‘t use often. But the foundation is very strong.
Reviewing the Chromecast Voice Remote
Since you‘ll be using the included remote constantly, its design and usability are very important. I‘m happy to report the Chromecast remote works extremely well.
It strikes a nice balance between being compact yet providing all the key controls needed. And the tactile feel of the buttons is satisfying.
The Chromecast voice remote
Here are some of the notable remote features:
Dedicated app buttons – shortcuts for YouTube and Netflix at the bottom for quick launching.
Voice search – microphone button activates Google Assistant for voice commands. Works great for searching content by voice.
Good ergonomics – easy to grip in the hand with the ribbed back texture. D-pad and volume buttons well positioned.
All essential controls – standard buttons like home, back, play/pause, volume, etc. present. Lack of dedicated previous/next track buttons is an omission.
Bluetooth connectivity – Pairs instantly with no dropouts and can control TV volume/power. Needs line-of-sight unlike IR remotes.
I found the remote very convenient for navigating through the Google TV interface, quickly launching apps, controlling playback, and voice search. It‘s definitely an improvement over previous Chromecast devices that relied on your phone.
My only complaint is the lack of dedicated reverse/fast-forward buttons. But you can jump by 10 seconds or control playback in the onscreen menu. Overall, it‘s a versatile remote that I enjoyed using every day.
Reviewing Streaming Performance and Quality
Since this device is built for entertainment, streaming performance is a major consideration. I rigorously tested the Chromecast by streaming lots of high-bitrate 4K HDR content.
Playback was smooth and flawless across all the major apps like Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, and Plex. No buffering or lag ever encountered even on my largest 70" TV.
Upscaled 1080p content also looked excellent thanks to HDR support. The picture quality was simply amazing with deep contrast and vibrant colors. Everything streamed wirelessly without a hitch.
To evaluate network performance, I used the Speedtest app to analyze connectivity. On my 300Mbps fiber connection, it managed an awesome 285Mbps download over WiFi. Very impressive wireless speeds.
And that speed translated perfectly to real-world streaming. I could play the highest bitrate videos available without any hiccups or resolution downgrades. Suffice to say streaming quality met my high expectations.
Reviewing Gaming Performance and Capabilities
In addition to streaming video, the Chromecast also allows you to play Android games on your TV. I tested a variety of game types to see how well it handles gaming.
Casual 2D games like Alto‘s Odyssey performed flawlessly with smooth frame rates. Even some lighter 3D games like Asphalt 9 ran pretty well though you may notice occasional stutters.
Heavier 3D titles struggled a bit more. When testing Dead Trigger 2, a first-person shooter, I encountered choppy framerates during action scenes. The hardware just isn‘t robust enough for serious gaming.
But for casual gaming, time-wasters, and puzzle games, it certainly gets the job done. Young kids will especially enjoy being able to play games on the TV. Don‘t expect Xbox Series X performance of course!
Google is also bringing Stadia game streaming support in the first half of 2021. So you‘ll be able to stream Stadia‘s library of games without taxing the local hardware. Serious gamers would still prefer a real console, but Stadia helps close the gap.
Reviewing App Support and Content Ecosystem
A streaming device lives and dies by its app support. After all, the apps provide all the actual content. Thankfully the Chromecast offers a robust app ecosystem.
All the major streaming services come pre-installed out of the box, including:
- Prime Video
- HBO Max
- YouTube/YouTube TV
And hundreds more apps are available for easy installation via the Google Play store:
- Sling TV
- CBS All Access
- PBS Kids
- NBC Peacock
- Pluto TV
- and much more
I also easily sideloaded some unofficial apps not on the Play Store like SyncLounge, SmartTubeNext, Send Files to TV, etc. So you can access an endless array of content.
Between major streaming services, Google Play apps, and sideloading capabilities, you‘ll never run out of entertainment options on the Chromecast. App support is a major strength here.
Reviewing Internal Storage and Expandability
Out of the box, the Chromecast comes with 8GB of onboard flash storage. After the system software, around 5GB of space is available for installing apps and games.
I was able to install about 10 larger apps before filling up the storage. For reference, here‘s how much space some popular apps consume:
As you can see, storage will fill up quickly if you try installing every app under the sun. To expand the storage I recommend using the USB-C port to add external flash drives or hard drives.
I tested a 64GB USB 3.0 flash drive which expanded the usable space to around 60GB total. You can even set external drives as "adoptable storage" to essentially expand the internal storage.
So lack of onboard storage is an issue out of the box, but one that is easily fixed down the road with USB storage options.
Chromecast with Google TV – Pros and Cons Summary
- Excellent 4K HDR streaming quality
- Snappy Google TV interface organizes your content
- Handy voice remote with Google Assistant built-in
- Robust app support from Google Play and sideloading
- Easy Cast functionality to send media from your phone
- Affordable $50 price point offers great value
- Small 8GB internal storage (but expandable)
- Lacks an ethernet port
- Google TV needs some UI refinements
- Not ideal for serious gaming
Who Should Buy the Chromecast with Google TV?
With any product, it‘s good to consider what type of user it‘s best suited for. Here are the people who will benefit most from the Chromecast:
Budget-focused streamers – It delivers excellent 4K streaming at a very affordable $50 price point. Much cheaper than other premium options.
Google ecosystem users – Seamless integration with Google Assistant and Google‘s content apps makes it a great option for existing Google users.
Casual gamers – The ability to play Android games on your TV turns it into a basic gaming machine. Hardcore gamers would still want a dedicated console.
Users wanting simple setup – The Chromecast is one of the easiest streaming devices to get up and running. Just plug in two cables and you‘re ready for entertainment.
Parents with kids – Kid-friendly apps plus the ability to cast videos/photos from your phone make it a good choice for families.
So in summary, if you want the best bang-for-your-buck 4K streaming and you‘re comfortable with Google‘s ecosystem, the Chromecast with Google TV is tough to beat at just $50.
Bottom Line – Worth Buying in 2022?
After using the Chromecast with Google TV regularly for over a month now, I can confidently recommend it in 2022 for several reasons:
Excellent streaming performance – it handles 4K video beautifully with fast performance and every major app.
Intuitive Google TV interface – makes finding content easy with personalized recommendations.
Feature-packed remote – voice control, app shortcuts, and all the essential buttons you need.
Affordable price – provides amazing value comparable to streamers costing $70-100 more.
Cast functionality – allows friends and family to easily share media from their phones to the TV.
For only $50, it‘s really hard to beat what the Chromecast delivers in terms of both streaming capabilities and smart TV features.
Compared to the Roku and Fire TV sticks, you‘re getting better voice search with Google Assistant built-in. Plus tons of Android apps and gaming. And Chromecast support to control the experience from your mobile device.
Sure, it‘s not perfect. Some may miss having an ethernet port or more onboard storage. And Google TV itself needs some refinement. But for the price, the pros easily outweigh any cons in my opinion.
Overall I think the Chromecast with Google TV is one of the best bang-for-your-buck streaming devices available today. I would have no hesitation recommending it as an affordable way to enjoy 4K entertainment in 2022!
I hope this detailed review gave you all the details you needed to decide if the Chromecast is the right streaming stick for your home entertainment needs. Let me know if you have any other questions!