Chromecast with Google TV review

Chromecast with Google TV is an incredible value 4K HDR streaming device

The chromecast with google tv streaming device pictured next to its white remote on a grey surface
Great Value
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Chromecast with Google TV doesn’t reinvent the wheel for streaming devices, but it does offer a convenient, easy-to-use and fully featured option for people who don’t want to spend more than they have to on the latest streaming hardware.

Pros

  • +

    4K HDR with Dolby Vision

  • +

    Comes with a remote

Cons

  • -

    Can’t be powered by all TVs

  • -

    Won't beat high-end streaming devices

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Google's Chromecast with Google TV (2020) is a revelation. This streaming device fixes something that wasn't broken, and improves a nearly perfect technology in a tangible way. This is all thanks to its remote and Google's 'new' software, Google TV.

Combined, the two offer a massive uptick in usability over previous Chromecasts, which required you to use your phone or tablet to Cast content rather than giving you an on-screen interface to interact with.

Chromecast with Google TV Specs

Dimensions: 162 mm X 61 mm X 12.5 mm (L X W X H)
Weight: 55g
Resolution: Up to 4K HDR, 60 FPS. Supports resolutions up to 4K and high dynamic range (HDR)
Video formats: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+
Ports: HDMI to plug directly into the TV, USB Type-C power
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4 GHz/5 GHz), Bluetooth
Dimensions (remote): 122 mm X 38 mm X 18 mm (L X W X H)
Weight (remote): 63g
Connectivity (remote): Bluetooth, IR to control TV, soundbar or receiver
Power (remote): Two AAA batteries included

Now that Google has added a dedicated TV interface that you control with a remote, you have instant access to most of the major streaming services, including Disney Plus, HBO Max and even the streaming app of its biggest competitor, Amazon Prime Video. On top of that, there are a number of apps that have been carried over from Android TV, Google TV’s predecessor, that bring games and productivity apps to the streamer.

The result is a retooled streaming device that might resemble its predecessors, but which offers a whole new experience that’s more user-friendly for folks who are used to using a remote control and an easily navigable interface. That's why it's one of our top picks in our best streaming devices guide.

Since we first reviewed the Chromecast with Google TV, the streaming device has received several new updates. One in 2021 brought better Dolby Vision playback on some apps, as well as storage and security improvements for the streaming device.

To find out more about this fantastic value streamer from Google, read our full Chromecast with Google TV review below.

Chromecast with Google TV: price and availability

  • Launched in 2020
  • Costs $49.99 / £59.99 / AU$99

The Chromecast with Google TV is available in three colors (Snow White, Sunrise Peach and Sky Blue).

In terms of price, you’re looking at $49 / £59 / AU$99. Although the Chromecast with Google TV has a pretty significant reduction on the Google website at the moment, especially in the US and the UK where it's been knocked down to $39 / £39. 

At this more recent reduced price, it's almost as cheap as Google's step down streaming device at $29.99 / £30 / $59AU, which you can read more about in our Google Chromecast (3rd Gen) review. 

It's also now cheaper than Amazon's latest streaming stick, which costs $49 / £49 / AU$69. Take a look at our Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K review for more. And significantly more affordable than more high-end streaming rivals. Read our Nvidia Shield review, which costs nearly three times as much.

Before Google did away with the Chromecast Ultra, the Chromecast with Google TV was the middle child in the Chromecast family. Now it's the top choice from Google—especially considering its new updates.

A white chromecast with google tv plugged into the back of a TV set.

(Image credit: Future)

Chromecast with Google TV: design

  • Ovular design akin to the original Chromecast
  • Comes with a remote
  • Can be powered by some TVs, or from the wall

For a few years now Google has stuck to a hockey-puck shape for its Chromecast devices, and it’s done so again with the Chromecast with Google TV. The latest design is slightly more elongated than before, but by and large it’s pretty similar to its predecessors. 

Again you'll connect the Chromecast to your TV via an attached HDMI cable (which, thankfully, uses the latest spec, HDMI 2.1) and draw power from either a wall outlet or via a USB port on your TV… if you’re lucky. 

We actually plugged the Chromecast into the back of a new Vizio V-Series TV, and were informed that it couldn’t draw enough power from the set’s USB port. This could be frustrating for anyone who doesn't have many remaining free power outlets in the vicinity of their entertainment center, but most people won’t be bothered by plugging the Chromecast into the wall.

Unlike the Chromecast Ultra, there’s no Ethernet jack on the Chromecast with Google TV, which means it will only work over Wi-Fi. According to Google you’ll be able to buy a USB-C to Ethernet adapter for the Chromecast with Google TV, but one isn’t included in the box.

On a more positive note, this new-and-improved Chromecast does come with a Bluetooth/IR remote. The plastic zapper is a bit on the flimsy side, but it comes fully stocked with a circular keypad, a volume rocker on the side and eight front buttons. If your TV supports HDMI-CEC you can control the volume of the TV with the Chromecast remote, and even power-down both the TV and Chromecast when you’re done watching.

Because this is the first revamped Google TV product it does, of course, have a Google Assistant button on the remote that you can use to summon the eponymous virtual assistant – which we’ll talk more about in the next section.

The chromecast with google tv interface on a TV display

(Image credit: Future)

Chromecast with Google TV: features

  • You’ll need a Google account to use it
  • Casting works with iOS and Android phones

As you’d expect from a product with ‘Google TV’ in its name, the new Chromecast really caters to the Android audience out there: you’ll use your Google account as a login for the device, and you’ll then have access to Google Assistant, YouTube/YouTube TV (if you have an account), the Play Store, Google Photos, and Nest devices if you have them.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first Android TV-based device to incorporate Google Assistant—Sony TVs have been using it for years, and it’s even used by the Nvidia Shield—but it does feel right at home here. For those concerned about privacy, Google Assistant only turns on when the button on the remote is pressed, and you can outright disable the service when logging in with your Google account at startup. 

Tapping into your Google account will also populate the main screen of the Chromecast’s UI with relevant and recommended content. If you’re familiar with Android TV, this will all look super-familiar to you, but for the uninitiated it’s a veritable smorgasbord of content compiled from different sources. For example, on our home screen we have Captain America: The First Avenger (most likely because we binged the Marvel movies in order) and Parks and Recreation, among other comedies and sci-fi films.

Scroll down a bit more from your recommended content row and you’ll find Netflix-esque rows of content that are grouped together by genre, a row of recommended videos from YouTube and finally trending shows and movies. Move from the For You tab and you’ll find separate areas for movies, shows, apps and your own library that, unless you frequently buy movies from Google Play Movies and TV, could be quite barren. There’s also a Live TV section, but that will only appear if you subscribe to YouTube TV. (Google does include a free trial inside the box, but you’ll still have to pay for it once the trial ends.)

When you select something to watch, you can either immediately start watching it or add it to your Watch List so that you can find it again later. Google TV also uses a thumbs up / down system to help you improve the recommendations it makes. Last but not least, there’s a halfway decent built-in search feature that can show you several ways in which to stream a certain movie or show, but it’s not nearly as robust as Roku’s built-in search engine.

In terms of app support, all the main players are here including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Sling, HBO Max and Disney Plus, plus over 6,500 lesser known apps that Google TV has inherited from Android TV. The only major missing app here are is Apple TV, which is a bit disappointing considering it doesn't support AirPlay, either.

The Chromecast with Google TV remote in white on a grey surface.

(Image credit: Future)

Chromecast with Google TV: performance

  • Rock-steady streaming, even in low-bandwidth households
  • Small bit of noticeable pop-in upon setup
  • Support for 4K HDR (HDR10+, Dolby Vision) and Dolby Atmos

Chromecast with Google TV performs admirably and rivals the performance of its competitors. Google hasn’t been explicitly clear on what’s going on inside the hardware at a system level, but regardless of whatever SoC it’s chosen to use, we've seen very few points that the Chromecast dipped in performance—especially once we chose which content we wanted to watch.

In fact, the only real slowdown we noticed was at startup when the Chromecast was first populating the UI for the first time - which took a few seconds but wasn’t a substantial time suck. What’s impressed us is that the hardware seems to work both near the router and far away where there’s less signal, and seems to be just fine with less bandwidth… not that we’d recommend trying it if you plan on watching 4K HDR content. 

Speaking of, the Chromecast with Google TV can stream in 1080p or 4K HDR with support for the HDR10+ and Dolby Vision formats - all of which we’d recommend testing out at some point as they look downright great. For audiophiles, the new Chromecast supports DTS, Dolby Audio, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos formats, but like the HDR formats you’ll need a compatible TV and/or sound system to actually hear them.

Watching both Dolby Vision content and regular HD SDR streams looked fine on our TV, though you shouldn't expect the streamer to do any heavy lifting in terms of upscaling or post-processing. What you see is what you get.

To get streams in their maximum resolution and high-end formats we recommend using the remote to use Chromecast’s native Google TV app, as that's where you're most likely to find it. However, if you just want content fast, you can use the Chromecast with Google TV like a regular ol’ Chromecast by Casting from your web browser, iOS or Android device which, as ever, is incredibly convenient.

The only real limitation we’ve come across at the hardware level is that the Chromecast with Google TV doesn’t yet support Stadia. That’s not likely to be a deal breaker for everyone, but it is a minor caveat for folks looking for the all-singing, all-dancing streaming media player that can play the latest games.

In terms of software, yes, sometimes you might notice a bit of slowdown on the main screen, but mostly the user interface is fast and responsive. Google Assistant can be hit-or-miss in terms of search results (queries like "Who plays Captain Kirk?" return convoluted, and sometimes inaccurate, results) but most times it works as expected. 

The whole Chromecast with Google TV kit, include cables, streaming puck, remote and plug.

(Image credit: Google)

Conclusion

If you're looking for a cheap, easy-to-use streaming device then the Chromecast with Google TV is a fantastic choice. We've always felt Chromecast was easy to use, but now that it has a remote even non-techies can enjoy Google's affordable, fast streaming device.

It's also a good option if you're ready to dabble in 4K HDR streaming. There have been options in the past, but many of them cost far more than the Chromecast with Google TV. If your wallet is already exhausted from buying a 4K TV, Chromecast with Google TV is a great way to recoup some of your spending.

There aren't many downsides to the Chromecast with Google TV, other than the fact that if you're looking for the highest-end streaming device you might want to try the Nvidia Shield TV or Apple TV 4K instead (more on these below). Yes, you get more than what you pay for with the Chromecast with Google TV, but not that much more.

Also consider...

If our Chromecast with Google TV review has you considering a streaming device for your home, then here are three alternatives to take a look at.

Image (opens in new tab)

Apple TV 4K
If you're looking for a step up from the Chromecast with Google TV and like Apple products, try the Apple TV 4K. This is a slick streaming device, which can play 4K video in HDR and Dolby Vision, and supports high-frame-rate HDR to make fast action and sports look smooth and clear. The revamped Siri remote is also a pleasure to use.
Read our
Apple TV 4K (2021) review (opens in new tab)

Image (opens in new tab)

Nvidia Shield TV Pro
If you're looking for the best streaming device on the market, check out the Shield TV Pro from Nvidia. It’s unrivalled when it comes to its 4K HDR streaming capabilities, has wide app support thanks to its Android TV foundations, and is littered with potential for gamers. However, you will have to pay a premium for this high-end device.
Read our Nvidia Shield TV Pro review (opens in new tab)

Image (opens in new tab)

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
The inclusion of 4K support makes the new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K a brilliant option for all your streaming needs—especially if you have Amazon Prime and other devices in the Amazon ecosystem. A lack of equity across different platforms means that Amazon hasn’t quite achieved perfection yet, so if you're looking for ultimate choice this might not be for you.
Read our Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K review (opens in new tab)

  • First reviewed in October 2020.

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.