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Chromecast with Google TV review

Finally, a Chromecast with a remote!

Chromecast with Google TV review
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Our Verdict

Get the Chromecast with Google TV if you want an excellent streaming device with Google Assistant built in.

For

  • Sensible layout
  • Lots of streaming services
  • Remote included
  • Smart home features

Against

  • General Google searches poorly formatted

 

Chromecast with Google TV: Specs

Size: 6.4 x 2.4 x 0.5 inches (dongle); 4.8 x 1.5 x 0.7 inches (remote)
Number of channels: 5,000+
Ports: HDMI, USB-C
Max video resolution: 4K/60 fps
Supported HDR formats: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
Supported audio formats: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Atmos

It’s a little simplistic to call the Chromecast with Google TV merely a streaming stick with a remote. Yes, it is that, but Google’s latest home entertainment device is greater than the sum of its parts, with a sensible interface, a multitude of streaming services, and Google Assistant at your fingers.

The $50 Chromecast with Google TV follows the same path as the myriad Roku and Amazon Fire TV Sticks on the market, but as you’ll find during this Chromecast with Google TV review, it’s the things only Google can bring that make this one of the best smart streaming devices.

Chromecast with Google TV: Price and availability

Chromecast with Google TV costs $49.99. You can purchase it in one of three colors: Snow, Sunrise and Sky. It's available at the Google Store and major retailers like Best Buy.

Chromecast with Google TV: Design

As with most streaming devices, the Chromecast with Google TV is a dongle that plugs into an HDMI port on your TV, and it's accompanied by a small remote control. The dongle, which will fit comfortably in your palm has an oval shape that makes it look like it would be perfect for skipping across a lake.

On one end is an HDMI output, while the other end has a USB-C port; included is a USB cable and plug, as the Chromecast with Google TV needs more power than your TV’s HDMI  port can provide.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The remote that comes with the device is somewhere between the Apple TV and the Roku remote. Like the Roku, the Google TV remote is curved at the top and bottom and has a rounded rear, but isn’t as pronounced a curve. While not as minimalist as the Apple TV remote, the Google TV remote is a single color, with the exception of the Google Assistant button.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

At the top is a circular d-pad; beneath are eight buttons: Back, Google Assistant, Home, Mute, YouTube, Netflix, Power, and Input. On the right side are two small volume control buttons.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google sent me the Sky color: the dongle is a grayish blue, while the remote is gray, with a light green Google Assistant button. The Snow model has both a white dongle and remote (with a black Assistant button), while Sunrise has a pink dongle and remote. It really comes down to the remote color you want, as the dongle will most likely be hidden out of sight.

Similar to the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, you’ll be able to connect the Chromecast to Ethernet; Google will have a power/Ethernet adapter available soon after launch.

Chromecast with Google TV: Interface

There’s nothing particularly radical about the Google TV interface, but it works. At the top are tabs for Search, Movies, Shows, Apps, and Library; beneath are thumbnails of content that’s relevant for that menu. 

(Image credit: Google)

If you subscribe to YouTube TV, a Live tab will appear in the top menu, which will display shows currently airing through that service.

Sub-categories include Top Picks for You based on your viewing history from the streaming services you’ve linked, Trending on Google, and Recommended Videos based on what you’ve watched on YouTube. 

(Image credit: Google)

The Library tab will display content you’ve purchased or rented from Google, as well as DVR content from YouTube TV.

If you long-press on a thumbnail, you can see the services on which it’s streaming, watch a trailer (if applicable), save to a Watchlist, rate it, and view additional details.

Considering my viewing tastes are vastly different than my wife’s, I like that you can add multiple Google accounts to the device. I won’t get recommendations for Gilmore Girls, and she won’t get the Fast & Furious franchise popping up on her screen.

Chromecast with Google TV: Streaming services

You won’t be wanting for streaming services: The Chromecast with Google TV includes YouTube, YouTube TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN, Sling, HBO Max, CBS All Access, Starz, Peacock, Peloton, Tubi, PBS, and more. 

The device can stream content at resolutions up to 4K/60 fps, and supports HDR, including HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. Audio-wise, it supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Atmos. 

Chromecast with Google TV Roku Streaming Stick+ Amazon Fire Stick 4K
Max streaming resolution 4K/60 fps 4K/60 fps 4K/60 fps
Supported HDR formats HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision HDR10 HDR, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision
Supported audio Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby AtmosDTS Digital Surround, Dolby Audio, Dolby ATMOS Dolby Atmos

Chromecast with Google TV: Performance

During my time testing the Chromecast with Google TV, I found it to be fast and responsive, and delivered excellent video quality. It was connected via Wi-Fi to a Netgear Orbi satellite, which was about five feet away, and plugged into a Vizio M60-C3 4K HDTV.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I was impressed with the details and colors when streaming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker from Disney Plus, videos from YouTube, and more. In almost every case the stream started up in high definition; in the rare instances where it didn’t, it resolved itself usually within a minute.

It did crash once, though, as I was exiting Disney Plus to return to the Google home screen.

What Google device would be complete without search? A Google Assistant button on the remote not only lets you search for movies and TV shows by name, genre, actor and more, but can also leverage Google search engine for more general inquiries.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For example, I asked Google Assistant to show pizza places near me, and it returned a list of all the slice joints near me. Selecting one of the options opens the same Google card as you’d find if searching on Google Maps. However, you can’t view the menu, look up directions, or select the phone number to call the establishment. If you ask Assistant to get you directions, it will give you an overview on the TV, and send directions to your phone.

As imperfect as it is, Google’s search proved better than Alexa on the Amazon Fire TV Cube; while that device also pulled up a list of pizzerias, its directions were just an overview, and could not send them to my iPhone.

Chromecast with Google TV: Smart home features

If you have a Nest Hello video doorbell, a Nest Cam, or some other compatible home security camera, you can ask Google Assistant to show you a feed from that device on your TV. Here is a list of cameras that work with Chromecast; not all may work with Chromecast with Google TV right away. I was able to stream a feed from the Wyze Cam to my TV. 

This is the same feature as what Amazon offers with its Fire TV devices. Not surprisingly, Ring and Blink (which are owned by Amazon) don’t work with Chromecast with Google TV. 

You can also use Google Assistant on the Chromecast with Google TV to control other smart home devices, such as smart lights and smart thermostats. While it’s useful for turning things on and off on command, I’ve found that Alexa’s Routines make for a far better smart home assistant.

Chromecast with Google TV: Verdict

While there’s a certain minimalist appeal to simply using your phone to beam content to your TV, I can see scores of people ditching their old Chromecast devices just so they can use the remote that comes with the Chromecast with Google TV. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As this Chromecast with Google TV review has shown, this device has a few advantages over other streaming sticks; for one, it has a couple of streaming services—namely, HBO Max and Peacock—that other devices lack; It has Google Assistant built in, which leverages the power of Google’s search engine; and, it’s also a Chromecast device, which makes it easy to beam pretty much anything you want to your TV. It’s a wonder why it took Google so long to come out with a device like this.

  • zia_tiger
    I currently have the Amazon Fire stick and one issue I have is that I keep running out of space for apps, do you know how much storage is available on the Chromecast with Google TV? I can see where they mention thousands of apps but not how many you can actually have on the device.
    Reply
  • hectorviov
    Does it come with the Google play store as any other Android TV? Or how does one install certain apps like Plex?
    Reply
  • Beltemps
    zia_tiger said:
    I currently have the Amazon Fire stick and one issue I have is that I keep running out of space for apps, do you know how much storage is available on the Chromecast with Google TV? I can see where they mention thousands of apps but not how many you can actually have on the device.
    8GB in total, 4.4GB free... nothing to write home about... :(
    Reply
  • Benji777
    zia_tiger said:
    I currently have the Amazon Fire stick and one issue I have is that I keep running out of space for apps, do you know how much storage is available on the Chromecast with Google TV? I can see where they mention thousands of apps but not how many you can actually have on the device.
    From what I have read it only has 4 gigs of storage available, so it's really no better than the Fire Stick or Fire TV.
    Reply
  • Benji777
    This is a huge fail for most consumers as it doesn't have enough storage to be of any use, I have over 20 gigs of streaming apps on my phone that I use all the time, anything less than 32gb is pointless to make. Google could have scored a home run here instead the struck out.
    Reply
  • hardcorr
    zia_tiger said:
    I currently have the Amazon Fire stick and one issue I have is that I keep running out of space for apps, do you know how much storage is available on the Chromecast with Google TV? I can see where they mention thousands of apps but not how many you can actually have on the device.
    I'm sure you can use a powered USB-C dongle to add extra usb ports in order to expand the memory. This should also work with the Fire TV stick.
    Reply
  • Techluv88
    admin said:
    Get the Chromecast with Google TV if you want an excellent streaming device with Google Assistant built in.

    Chromecast with Google TV review : Read more

    So, I read your review article and it is helpful. But at the same time, I am somewhat disappointed. Here is the reason; On the packaging, it may say it supports Dolby vision, DD, Atmos sound, etc...but does it support those with all the streaming apps or is it selective only to certain streaming apps.

    A clear example with this would be the ROKU 4k stick+ (3810x), when I bought it the box stated it did dd, atmos, and dts. BUT, it all depended on which app you used. For example, NETFLIX on that version of the stick doesn't support Atmos, but VUDU does. ROKU points the finger at Netflix and Netflix points the finger at ROKU. As far as I am concern both can bath in the same tub filled with gasoline while juggling 10 flares back and forth between each other. We all know NETFLIX and ROKU customer service sucks, does one need more proof then when looking for support, and a company relies on customers as troubleshooting resource to help their clients.

    The point is, I went out and bought the stick based on a review such as this. IF I would have known NETFLIX did not support atmos on what was the latest-and-greatest ROKU stick at the time I would have gone a whole different direction.

    I think when people review streaming sticks, they shouldn't just go by the feature card/listing on the box and manuals but actually, try each feature out to see which of the major apps work with the features being claimed by the "box art." Does it support DD (5.1), ATMOS (7.1), with this app? Is Dolby Vision working on that app? Or does it only work with such apps? Are there any of the major streaming platforms that don't work on the app? Think VUDU not working on firesticks or apple tv not working on CHROMCAST GOOGLE TV.
    Reply
  • craig2web
    zia_tiger said:
    I currently have the Amazon Fire stick and one issue I have is that I keep running out of space for apps, do you know how much storage is available on the Chromecast with Google TV? I can see where they mention thousands of apps but not how many you can actually have on the device.
    4.4GB of shared storage available. Should be fine for streaming apps, which tend to be fairly small. But if you want to play games as well, you can run out of space fast.

    We definitely need a way to supplement storage. Especially if you want to play games with this, you will likely run out of space fast.
    Reply
  • Retired Techie
    hectorviov said:
    Does it come with the Google play store as any other Android TV? Or how does one install certain apps like Plex?
    Yes. Selecting Apps on the top line menu give you a Search Apps option a couple of lines down.

    BUT, the one my wife watches is not available: AT&T TV. Interestingly, I have it on my Chromebook, but the listing in the Play Store says it is Not Compatible with Chromecast. A shame since that is 98% of what she watches so it may be going back to the store.
    Reply