The Chromecast with Google TV is an evolution of the that it replaces. The disc-shaped casework has been flattened out into a more oval shape, and is now available in a choice of Snow (white), Sunrise (pink), or Sky (blue) with matching colored remote. You are likely to use this more than the device itself, which will probably be hanging from an HDMI port on the back of your TV.
There is a USB 2.0 on the end of its power lead, but you will still need to plug it into the wall with the provided adaptor, even if you have a powered USB socket on your telly.
The all-new voice remote is not much bigger than your palm and sits beautifully in the hand. There are shortcut buttons for Netflix and youtube and to activate the Google Assistant voice search too. Tasteful, discreet, and nicely tactile must have been the design notes on this one.
GOOGLE CHROMECAST WITH GOOGLE TV TECH SPECS
(Image credit: Google)
Resolution Up to 4K HDR, 60fps
HDR formats Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+
Remote control Yes
Dimensions (hwd) 12.5 x 6 x 16cm
Google TV makes its debut on Chromecast here, and despite that resulting in a mouthful of a name for its latest device, we understand why Google wishes to shout about its new interface. It’s compatible with over 6500 of the apps built for Android TV and, at launch, will recommend content on the home page from over 30 streaming services. These depend on your location and subscriptions but include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube, and more. As a user, it’s a refreshing change to see a genuinely useful content discovery tool, rather than a shop front to sell you content.
When you track down a film or TV show that you have rights to watch on multiple services, Google TV gives you the choice of service and will even default to the cheapest or free option where possible, rather than trying to sell you the version from Google’s own catalog.
Available films and TV programs are organized into helpful rows of suggestions, including quite a few categories we’ve never seen on other services, such as Neo-noir, Futuristic Shows, Filmsabout Robots, and Space exploration movies. You can refine the AI by telling it what you’ve already seen but, even from the off, it has a pretty decent handle on our tastes.
The new remote control is tactile and well thought out. You can teach it to control the power and volume on your TV and use it as the microphone for the Google Assistant voice searches on Google TV. As expected, the voice recognition is nearly flawless and a decent way of getting what you want and quickly. As well as requesting specific TV shows, music, and movies, you can make more general requests such as ‘Show me films about time travel’ or similar.
In fact, for usability and recommendations, Chromecast with Google TV is the best media streamer on the market. There are two caveats, though – the platform is a bit buggy and there are times during testing when Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos content doesn’t seem to be available on apps such as Netflix and Prime Video when it should be. We find closing the app and rebooting it up usually does the trick but that shouldn’t be necessary and, hopefully, this will be solved by any future firmware updates.
The second consideration is that, like most media streamers, it doesn’t quite cover all the best video services. Generally, that’s not too much of a problem because Google’s casting function means you can stream by using the relevant app on your phone, tablet, or laptop browser. So, for example, although there is no All 4 app on the Chromecast with GoogleTV stick, you can use the All 4 app on your mobile and cast it from there instead.
The only significant place that this falls down is with Apple’s services. The AppleMusic and AppleTV apps are both missing from the Chromecast and you can’t cast them from other devices. That’s a loss considering the huge amount of 4K HDR material on Apple TV and there’s no way around it unless your TV already has an Apple TV app built into its smart platform.