Google announced its fourth-generation Chromecast (with Google TV) on September 30.
Chromecast with Google TV is a big change in terms of features, looks, price and more for the Chromecast, compared to the first three models. It is now a proper dongle, and comes with a remote and Android TV built-in. It also sports Google's new "Google TV" interface that will be coming to Android TV devices in the future.
Here's everything you need to know about the new Chromecast with Google TV.
What is Chromecast with Google TV?
Chromecast with Google TV is the fourth-generation Chromecast, which turned out to be a massive hit for Google when it was announced back in 2013. It was originally a $35 dongle that you plugged into your TV and instantly able to stream all sorts of content to your TV with ease.
Now, seven years later, it was time for Google to improve the Chromecast. So here comes Chromecast with Google TV. It now includes a physical remote control, and has an actual interface. Chromecast, never had an actual interface. Instead, you would hit the Cast button on your phone in a specific app, and that was it. Chromecast with Google TV has Android TV baked in, so it's not an entirely new operating system, but the Google TV launcher on top is brand new.
The Chromecast with Google TV is made completely from recycled materials. So by purchasing the new Chromecast, you're actually helping the environment. This is likely also why some of the parts of the Chromecast – the remote and batteries – have an interesting texture.
What is Google TV?
Google TV is the new launcher that is on top of Android TV on Chromecast with Google TV. This might all sound very confusing, especially if you remember the fact that Google had Google TV up until it killed it off in 2014 in favor of Android TV.
But now Google TV is back, sort of. It's a new launcher on Android TV, that aims to make it easier to find content to watch on your big screen. There are a few new tabs at the top, that highlight different content. So the "Live" tab will highlight what is currently on TV, if you are a YouTube TV subscriber. Movies and Shows highlight movies and TV shows you can watch from a variety of different apps that are installed – as well as Google Play. Then there is the Apps library, where you can launch your apps, like you normally would.
Google TV will come to other Android TV devices starting in 2021. Though, Google hasn't said much about what devices will be first, or when in 2021 this new interface will be available. But it won't be exclusive to the new Chromecast forever.
What streaming apps work with Google TV?
Anything that has an Android TV app, or works with Chromecast will work with Chromecast on Google TV. But for the new Movies and Shows tabs, Google TV only integrates certain apps. Here's the list of the apps that are currently compatible with Google TV. Google says it'll be adding more in the future.
- Amazon Prime Video
- CBS All Access
- Comedy Central
- DC Universe
- Disney NOW
- Epix Now
- Fox Now
- HBO Go
- HBO Max
- Pluto TV
- Showtime Anytime
- Sling TV
- The CW
- Tubi TV
As you'll see there are a couple of larger streaming services missing here like Peacock. Which might be surprising, but it does still work on Google TV, it just doesn't integrate into the movies and shows tabs on Google TV. You can still open the app and watch content the old fashioned way on the Chromecast with Google TV.
Which Live TV services work with Google TV?
For the Live tab in Google TV, only YouTube TV is supported for now. Similar to the movies and shows tabs, Google says it is planning to add support for other streaming Live TV services in the Live tab in the near future. But for now, only YouTube TV works. And there's no way around that yet. It is unclear when exactly Google will add other services like Sling TV, FuboTV and AT&T TV NOW to this live tab. But it likely won't be until 2021.
For a limited time, Google is giving new YouTube TV subscribers a free Chromecast with Google TV. So if you sign up for YouTube TV for a month, you can get a Chromecast for free. A month of YouTube TV does cost you $65, so you're basically paying for a Chromecast and then $15 for the first month of YouTube TV. It's a great way to check out YouTube TV and get a Chromecast for free.
What HDR specs does it support?
The Chromecast with Google TV does support 4K HDR content. But just like with anything else, there are different forms of HDR available.
Currently, it only supports HDR10 and HDR10+. Which should cover most people and most content.
Outside of HDR, it does also support both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, for great sound and picture quality.
Can you use it wired, instead of wireless?
While the Chromecast is used wirelessly, and connects to 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, you can use it wired. Via an ethernet cable. But, that will cost you extra.
Google does have plans to offer an Ethernet adapter for the Chromecast, but it is not yet available.
How does Google decide what content to list "For You"?
Google TV is able to access things you have watched already, as well as what you have put on your wishlist in the Play Movies & TV app – before it was rebranded to Google TV.
The recommendations "For You" are not that great in the very beginning, especially if you did not create a wishlist. But the more content you watch, the better it'll get over time.
You can still add stuff to your wishlist (now called "watchlist") on Google TV. Just search for a movie or show, and then add it to your watchlist.
What buttons are on the new Chromecast remote?
Google kept the remote on the Chromecast pretty simple. It has the necessary buttons like a directional pad, home, back, volume controls, and Google Assistant. There is also a power button and inputs. But Google also added two other buttons for popular streaming services.
There is a YouTube button and a Netflix button. As you'd expect, pressing either one takes you directly into those apps. This is not anything new, Android TV manufacturers, Roku and Fire TV all do something similar – though they do it based on who is paying. So depending on when you buy your Roku, you may have different buttons on your remote.
Can they be customized?
The YouTube and Netflix buttons on the Chromecast with Google TV remote cannot be customized, at least not yet. Google has hinted at the fact that it may add the ability to customize them in the future.
Though, considering the fact that they have YouTube and Netflix logos on them, there's not a whole lot of customizing you can actually do here.
Can the remote control my TV too?
Yes. The Chromecast with Google TV remote can control your TV as well.
It supports HDMI-CEC, which is a protocol that allows HDMI devices to talk to each other, allowing for multiple devices to be controlled by a single remote.
The remote is able to turn on/off the TV, switch inputs (to the Chromecast input, only), adjust volume and mute.
During the setup, Chromecast will walk you through controlling your TV and soundbar if you have one. It works with most brands of TVs and sound bars, including Sonos.
This way you won't need to use another remote to control your TV or your soundbar.
Can you play games on Chromecast with Google TV?
Chromecast with Google TV does support Stadia. But not officially until 2021. Surprisingly, you cannot play Stadia on Chromecast with Google TV, out of the box. Which is a clear oversight by Google, obviously.
However, many users have reported being able to sideload the Stadia app and play on the new Chromecast now. So there doesn't seem to be anything stopping users from playing Stadia now – other than it not being officially available in the Play Store to download to that device.
You can still download games onto the Chromecast with Google TV, like you would on any Android TV device. But keep in mind the limited storage space on the Chromecast. Because there is so little space available, you won't be able to download a lot of games, like Asphalt. As there's just not enough space.
How much storage is available on Chromecast? And can you expand it?
Speaking of storage, the Chromecast with Google TV comes with only 8GB of storage. You'll have around 5GB of space available out of the box. After installing all of your apps, you'll likely be down to around 4GB of space.
You can technically expand the storage on Chromecast. As it does plug in via USB-C, and as we've seen already, USB-C hubs do work on the Chromecast. So you could theoretically get a USB-C hub and plug it into the Chromecast, and plug in a hard drive that way. But installing apps likely won't be possible, because they can only be installed on internal storage. But that storage is good for running something like a Plex server on your Chromecast. Or something else that plays local files.
Can I use headphones with Chromecast?
Yes, you are able to use a pair of Bluetooth headphones to listen to movies and shows from Chromecast.
This is a feature that Roku has made pretty popular, and it's good to see other devices sporting it as well.
To set this up, head to the settings menu, and pair a new device. You can pair another Bluetooth device to your Chromecast, whether that is a Bluetooth remote, game controller or a pair of headphones. Unfortunately, Bluetooth is the only option for using headphones here. As there is no headphone jack on the Chromecast.
This means that you're going to be able to watch the game without waking up your kids or significant other, as long as you don't scream at the TV when your team turns over the ball.
How much is Chromecast with Google TV?
Chromecast with Google TV is on sale now for $49.99.
It's likely that it will be discounted during the holiday season, possibly down to $35-$40.
It's right in-line with the competition from Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Their 4K models are also around $40-$50. Making it a lot more competitive than something like the NVIDIA SHIELD TV, which is almost as expensive as the Apple TV 4K.
Google offers the Chromecast with Google TV in three colors: snow, sand and sky. Which are basically white, kind of orange and light blue. There is no black Chromecast this year, due to the fact that Google made the Chromecast entirely out of recycled plastics. It would have been nice to have one that blended in with the back of your TV, but a 100% recycled Chromecast is definitely a better aspect.
Where can I buy the Chromecast?
You can buy the Chromecast with Google TV from the Google Store, Best Buy, B&H Photo, The Home Depot, Target and Walmart.
Other retailers will likely start selling the Chromecast with Google TV in the near future.
What comes in the box?
The packaging for the Chromecast with Google TV is pretty simple. It comes with the Chromecast, as well as the USB-A to USB-C cable and wall charger for charging. There is also the remote and two AAA batteries included. It's quite surprising to see batteries included in the box, normally those are sold separately.
Google also went as far as to color-code the batteries that come with the Chromecast with Google TV. So the Snow model has white batteries, sky has blue batteries and so forth. It's that attention to detail that makes Google, Google.