Chromecast with Google TV 4K review


Chromecast with Google TV 4K: 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

Chromecast with Google TV 4K is much more than just a streaming stick with a remote. One of the best streaming devices there is, Google’s latest home entertainment device boasts a sensible interface, nearly every streaming service you can think of and Google Assistant at your beck and call. A bunch of new Android TV upgrades should prove to be strong competition against Roku and Apple TV. And another great new feature on Android TV is the ability to use your phone as a remote control.

And, yes, it used to just be called the Chromecast with Google TV, but as our Chromecast with Google TV HD review shows, a new model requires some renaming.

The Chromecast with Google TV 4K is around the same price as the Roku and Amazon Fire TV Sticks on the market, but as this Chromecast with Google TV review outlines, it’s the things only Google can bring that make this one of the best smart streaming devices. Check out our Chromecast vs Fire Stick face off to see how those devices compare.

Chromecast with Google TV 4K: Price and availability

Chromecast with Google TV 4K costs $49.99 typically, but it’s on sale for $39.99 at the Google Store (opens in new tab). It’s also for sale at major retailers like Best Buy. If you don’t want to get a whole dang Chromecast to plug into your TV?  We’ve ranked the best TVs with Chromecast built-in so you can cast to your TV without one. 

If you do get one, then here’s the first thing every Chromecast with Google TV owner should do

Do also bear in mind that a new Chromecast with Google TV could be coming later this year.

Chromecast with Google TV 4K: Design

As with most streaming devices, the Chromecast with Google TV 4K is a dongle that plugs into an HDMI port on your TV, and it’s accompanied by a small remote control. Wondering how it compares to the remote-free Chromecast? Check out our Chromecast with Google TV vs Chromecast face-off. 

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.

The Chromecast is pretty simple and established device, but if you want to learn more we’ve got a full “what is Google Chromecast?” guide which should answer any questions you may have.

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 4K 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.

To see how the Chromecast compares to the latest and greatest Roku, check out our Roku Streaming Stick 4K vs. Chromecast with Google TV face-off.

(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. Check out our Chromecast with Google TV vs Fire TV Stick 4K face-off to see more about how they compare.

Chromecast with Google TV 4K: 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.

That said, individual user profiles won’t be coming to the device until sometime next year.

Unfortunately, there’s a current Chromecast with Google TV flaw that’s annoying one of our editors: the Currently Watching list has a bit of bugginess to fix.

Chromecast with Google TV 4K: Streaming services

You won’t be wanting for streaming services: The Chromecast with Google TV 4K 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. 

And add one more to the list: Chromecast with Google TV is adding the Apple TV app in early 2021. Google TV could now be getting 50 free live TV channels as well. 

Apps and services can be installed directly from the device, or you can head to Google Play on your phone and remotely send new software to Google TV.

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

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

Chromecast with Google TV 4K: Performance

During my time testing the Chromecast with Google TV 4K, 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. Check out our TiVo Stream 4K review to check out the other big Android TV streamer.

(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 4K: 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 4K 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 4K. 

You can also use Google Assistant on the Chromecast with Google TV 4K 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 4K: 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 4K. 

And do bear in mind that the Google TV platform is set to get more features as it matures

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

As this Chromecast with Google TV 4K review has shown, this device has a few advantages over other streaming sticks. 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. Hopefully, though, the Continue Watching row will be fixed soon.

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