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Chromecast with Google TV Review 2021: Is It Worth It?

Google's Chromecast with Google TV comes with a remote to make accessing your favorite content easier. Here's what you need to know.

Scott Orr

Chromecast with Google TV Pros Chromecast with Google TV Cons
  • Remote included
  • Supports 4K, Dolby Vision and Atmos
  • Reasonably priced
  • Not all TVs will power it
  • You'll need a Google account
  • Sometimes slow when changing apps or using voice control
  • What is Chromecast with Google TV?

    Chromecast with Google TV is the updated streaming device that replaces the original Chromecast, with this new model being released Sept. 2020. It's a dongle that plugs into your TV's HDMI port and delivers HDR10, HDR10+, 4K and Dolby Vision HDR, and Dolby Atmos sound. It's capable of streaming all the popular content you might want, including Apple TV+.

    Chromecast with Google TV pricing

    Chromecast with Google TV retails for $50, and it can be found at that price at just about every outlet, including Best Buy and Target. 

    Chromecast with Google TV features

    The Chromecast with Google TV comes in three colors -- white, pink, and sky blue. The device is an oval-shaped dongle that hangs from a short HDMI cord that you plug into your TV. Power comes from either a power brick connected by a USB Type-C cable (supplied) or, if your TV will supply enough power, from a spare USB port on the TV itself. Most USB ports, however, do not have the power needed to operate the device and the wall plug will be required to connect.

    The Chromecast with GoogleTV has a quad-core processor for fast response, 2 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of storage, but the system uses about 3.4 GB of that, leaving only 4.4 GB for app storage.  

    One detail you'll want to know about the audio is that the Chromecast supports pass-through Dolby Atmos sound, it doesn't decode Atmos, and Netflix requires that for surround sound.  

    It comes with a voice remote, a first for the Chromecast, which puts the device on an equal footing with similarly priced competitors. It can be configured to control the TV's power and volume, so you'll only need one remote. These are all important factors to users who had previously been required to use their phone as the remote for Chromecast, a clumsy approach at best.

    "Google TV" is the new name for the company's legacy Android TV interface, and it has been updated and expanded. It's available via the Google Assistant 3 button on the remote and lets you search for content intuitively, i.e, by asking it to "Find action movies," "search for funny shows," or more basic searches by title or starring actor. It can also help you order a snack while you're watching if, for example, you ask it for pizza places near you.  

    You can use Bluetooth technology to pair headphones or wireless game controllers (not included) with Chromecast with Google TV for private listening, but the remote does not control the headphone volume. 

    If you enjoy casting videos from your phone to the TV, a traditional favorite with Chromecast, that functionality is still in place. And if you have a Nest camera system, you can watch it on your TV as well.

    The system still supports your Google Photos album as a screensaver when you're not watching streaming videos, and the slideshow is a fun way to entertain visitors with your library of images if you're not going to view videos.

    All of the popular (and some not-so-popular) streaming sources are available, including Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN, Sling, HBO Max, CBS All Access, Starz, Peacock, Peloton, Tubi, and PBS. Streaming giants Netflix and YouTube have dedicated buttons on the remote.

    If you tell Google TV which services you pay for, it'll even prioritize those when recommending viewing options. Ratings from the Rotten Tomatoes website also appear within the menu.

    Navigation is simple and clean, and you'll find that Google TV makes it easy to find what you want to watch by not requiring you to dig through multiple layers of menus and submenus. The home page, for example, is the "For You" section. Installing apps from the Google Play store is possible, too, but the store can be tough to find unless you use voice search and ask it to open the Play Store.

    But the navigation isn't perfectly integrated with every streaming app, and some won't allow you to use the "Continue Watching" function, so if you leave a movie or show and come back, you may have to find where you left off by yourself. And each app can have different internal navigation controls, so the remote has different effects inside each one. 

    Chromecast with Google TV setup

    Setting up the device is easy but not especially quick.

    • Plug the Chromecast into an empty HDMI port on your TV

    • Plug the power USB into a spare USB port on your TV (if you have one) and see whether it has enough juice to do the job. If not (you will receive an error message), plug in the wall adaptor. 

    • The remote should pair automatically; if not, follow the on-screen instructions

    • If you don't already have a Google account, now is the time to create one

    • When the TV screen shows the prompt, open the Home app on your phone (or you can use the voice remote; choose "Set up on TV instead")

    • Allow the Home app to use your phone's camera to scan the QR code on the TV screen. It will connect and take you through several steps.

    • You'll see "Set up here is finished" when the system is ready

    If you encounter any problems, Google has troubleshooting tips here.

    Chromecast with Google TV vs. Chromecast

    The original Chromecast, which sold for $35, was a revolutionary development. But as more devices came on the market with remotes and the ability to select from built-in streaming sources, it began to look a little lackluster. Chromecast with Google TV comes with a whopping 6,500 Android TV apps. It also delivers better video; the basic Chromecast only provided for 1080p, and it wasn't capable of Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos. 

    Our final take

    The Chromecast with Google TV is a very capable streaming solution, made much better than its predecessor with the simple addition of a remote -- that makes the device much easier to operate. The lack of a dedicated remote left the Chromecast at a major disadvantage compared with other like devices.  

    It brings home top-quality picture and sound and makes available a wide variety of popular streaming sources while still allowing the fan-favorite ability to cast from your phone. A quad-core processor means fast performance, and Google TV's massive app library rounds out the advantages, giving it a lift above competitors. This streaming solution is a good fit into the Google Home environment and is well worth the $15 more than the original Chromecast.