Chromecast with Google TV is still a great Chromecast dongle that does what it says on the box
The Chromecast with Google TV has remained the best Chromecast dongle on the market, offering 4K HDR streaming support, a voice remote with a dedicated Google Assistant button, new personalized recommendations, and the ability to control connected smart home devices. It has an updated design over its predecessor and packs a quad-core Amlogic S905D3G chip, 2GB of RAM, and 8GB of onboard storage. When it launched, there were a number of bugs and other problems that soured the experience. But over time through updates, the Chromecast with Google TV has become an excellent addition to a standard television set. While it’s not the most powerful device, it costs $49 new — a pretty great price.
Since receiving the Chromecast with Google TV, it’s gone from being seldom used to a mainstay in my living room, and it’s integrated very nicely into my already all-Google ecosystem. The best part is that it doesn’t require you to break the bank to afford it, and it can be really easy to get a hold of. It supports up to 4K HDR streaming at 60 fps as well as video formats such as HDR 10, HDR 10+, and Dolby Vision, and the remote has voice input if that’s your kind of thing. Power comes to the device via its USB-C port, and it supports an ethernet connection through an ethernet power adapter sold separately. It also works with Google Stadia, if you’re a fan of cloud gaming.
About this article: I received the Chromecast with Google TV from Google Ireland in October 2020 for IrishTech. The company did not have any input into the contents of this article.
How I use my Chromecast
The Chromecast with Google TV is one of the best additions to my home, and I don’t mean that lightly. In the United States, there is no tax to be paid if you own a TV. However, In Ireland and some other countries, we have a TV license tax that needs to be paid yearly if a TV exists in the home. A TV in Ireland is legally considered to be a device that can process and display certain kinds of television broadcasts. Computer monitors don’t meet the criteria, so rather than having a TV, I use a 32-inch monitor as a TV with the Chromecast.
Here’s the next hurdle though — the monitor that I use does not have any kind of audio output. There’s no aux output on the monitor (unlike some monitors that I’ve used) and there’s obviously no aux output on the Chromecast either. I discovered that Chromecasts have Bluetooth capabilities, and so I connected the Chromecast to my Bluetooth speaker that I use in my living room. It works surprisingly well for streaming video content, as Google TV is based on Android TV, and Android can synchronize video with Bluetooth audio very well.
As a result, I have an excellent home video setup comprised primarily of a Chromecast, a Bluetooth speaker, and a large monitor that accepts HDMI input. It’s a bit of a dodgy setup, to be honest, but it works, and I don’t ever run into issues with it. The only problem that I’ve ever had was trying to play games on Stadia — it works, but the audio is delayed because Android can’t sync the audio properly when it’s an actual game. It’s hard to slight it on the basis of not having an aux output built-in given how unique my situation is, but it’s worth knowing in case you find yourself in a similar set of circumstances.
All in all, what I’ve discovered from the above is just how versatile this Chromecast is. You can even install a remote app from the Google Play Store (there are a few if you search for Android TV remote) and control your Chromecast that way. If you’re really lazy (or maybe the remote ran out of batteries) that’s a viable way to control it too. I also love that it integrates directly with all of the services that I watch frequently, with it showing me buttons to continue watching shows on different services right on my home screen.
I’ve primarily used my Chromecast for pretty much everything you can imagine a Chromecast is used for. Music controls at parties, watching Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, Plex, and phone mirroring. To be honest, I don’t actually use it for much else, though I know that there are a huge amount of other options to use a Chromecast for. I just don’t think they’re the primary use case, and I think that most people want one for casting content to the big screen.
In other words, this Chromecast is amazing at doing one thing very well — and that is turning any standard TV or monitor into a smart TV, complete with all of Google’s features, too. There are games on the Google Play Store, and there are other applications that you might get use out of too, but I think that 90% of users won’t even care. I know a few people who have picked up this particular device on my recommendation, and none of them I would consider enthusiasts. They use it for streaming content and that’s it, and that’s exactly what it’s good at.
The remote itself is very barebones, without much in the way of buttons. There’s no dedicated pause or play button, and the volume keys are indented into the side. It would also be nice to have both forward and backward 10-second-skip buttons, though those are minor quibbles that really don’t matter much.
For inexpensive home media, the Chromecast with Google TV does it all
The Chromecast with Google TV has a major advantage over competitors, and that’s its price. Coming in at $49 (and frequently on sale, too), it’s an absolute steal. You can’t really go wrong with it if all you want is an upgrade to your home media system, and with 4K support, it’s going to be capable of fully utilizing the screens of what 90% of consumers have in their homes anyway. With Stadia support out of the box too, it turns into a games console if your internet can support it, which is even better.
There’s going to be a low-powered successor (limited to 1080p) coming to the market soon if rumors are to be believed, and if so, then it means that this is likely still going to remain the pinnacle of what Google can do in streaming sticks for another while yet. The lower-end Chromecast reportedly uses an Amlogic S805X2 CPU with a Mali-G31 GPU, which is also found in a few other low-end Android TV boxes. That chipset includes hardware decoding for the AV1 video codec, which is not present on the existing Chromecast with Google TV, though that seems to be where its advantages end.
If you’re not interested in picking up this particular Chromecast, there are other devices worth checking out too. Amazon and Roku both have 1080p streaming devices in the $20 range — the base Fire TV Stick and Roku Premiere both spring to mind. Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong with this particular Chromecast, either.