Chromecast with Google TV: Everything you need to know!

Google is changing the living room game again with the newest Chromecast.

The original Chromecast turned millions of old, dumb TVs into smart TVs that could play all your favorite content without having to spend thousands on a new set. It had its drawbacks — no included remote, reliance on a secondary device to direct it to content — but it helped start a revolution in the living room.

Now, Google has launched the Chromecast with Google TV, a streaming stick that has learned from its three generations of predecessors and given us an affordable package for the almost-perfect living room companion. It's sleek, it's fast, and Google promises it's going to change the way you watch TV.

Living room champ

Chromecast with Google TV

Google is taking the lead in the living room.

The fourth generation of the Google Chromecast is a huge upgrade over its predecessors, thanks to the new Google TV interface, 4K support, and a well-designed remote for an impressively low price.

$50 at Best Buy $50 at Walmart $50 at B&H

Have we reviewed the Chromecast with Google TV?

The Chromecast with Google TV is now available to purchase, and as we said in our review, you absolutely should purchase one if you want to upgrade an older television that either lacks snart apps or has smart apps that aren't supported anymore. The remote feels great in the hand and is easy to use — though it is short a few buttons — and the new Google TV interface is new but very intuitive, making it easy to find what you want to watch even across a dozen different streaming subscriptions.

The new interface is a distinct departure for fans of Android TV, but it's a great overall experience including 4K content for less than the Chromecast Ultra that came before it. It's a lightweight streaming stick that will help make movie marathons easier for you and your friends.

What is the Chromecast with Google TV?

The Chromecast with Google TV is a streaming stick that you can plug into a dumb TV — a television without built-in apps — in order to watch streaming video services and play games. This is the fourth generation of the Google Chromecast, but this generation is a significant upgrade in several ways.

First and foremost, this is the first Chromecast to come with a remote, so that it can be controlled directly rather than needing to be pull out a phone or laptop to pause the video or swap to a new video. This is something people have been requesting for years, and we're happy to see Google finally listened.

Another hardware improvement for this generation is the move from micro-USB to USB-C for the port through which the Chromecast receives power and data (should you use an Ethernet adapter with it. The move to USB-C and support for Power Delivery means that should you lose the power brick that comes in the box, it's easier to replace it.

This is also the first Chromecast running Android TV, topped with a new software interface called Google TV.

What is Google TV?

Google TV is a new interface for Android TV that drastically changes how users find and watch content from both on-demand streaming services and streaming TV services. Google has re-organized content so that you can browse content by type more easily rather than having to search through each app or streaming service individually. This has been done by leveraging Google Assistant, Google Knowledge Graph, and machine learning.

Technically speaking, the Chromecast with Google TV runs Android TV, and while the interface is exclusive to the new Chromecast with Google TV, it will eventually start coming to other Android TVs starting in 2021.

What UHD profiles does the Chromecast with Google TV support?

Playing back 4K content isn't just a matter of having a Chromecast that can output 3840 x 2160 pixels, it also needs the codec, profiles, and content standards used by 4K content in order to decode and play streaming content in ultra high definition (UHD). The UHD profiles supported by the Chromecast with Google TV are:

  • Dolby Vision
  • Dolby Digital
  • Dolby Digital Plus
  • Dolby Atmos
  • HDR10
  • HDR10+
  • HDCP 2.2

The maximum resolution and framerate for the Chromecast with Google TV is 4K/60 fps, which must also be supported by the television the Chromecast is plugged into.

What comes with the Chromecast with Google TV?

Inside the box for the Chromecast with Google TV is five things:

  • Chromecast with Google TV dongle
  • Chromecast voice remote
  • 2 AA batteries
  • USB-C to USB-A cable
  • USB-A power adapter

The batteries are color-matched to the remote and the USB-A power adapter has a maximum output of 7.5V/5A, or approximately 37.5W.

Some places are bundling six months of Netflix with the Chromecast with Google TV, but not all, so if you're looking for that benefit be sure to check the packaging and store listing to see if it's mentioned.

Can you use a Chromecast with Google TV with Ethernet?

Yes, you can use Ethernet to get internet to your Chromecast with Google TV, either through the official Ethernet adapter or by using a USB-C hub with an Ethernet port and pass-through charging that's powered by a Power Delivery charger that's at least 36W in power.

What colors does the Chromecast with Google TV come in?

There are three colors for the Chromecast with Google TV: Snow, Sunrise, and Sky. This is the first Chromecast not to come in black, due to these Chromecasts being made of 100% recycled plastics, and given how beautiful the the colors here are, I'm not shedding any tears over that.

Not only does the color extend to the dongle and the remote, even the AAA batteries for the remote are color-matched to each model. The two-tone accenting of the Assistant button on the remote is just the cherry on the adorable color palette.

How much storage does the Chromecast with Google TV come with? Can you expand it?

The Chromecast with Google TV has 8GB of internal storage, but only 4.4GB of that space is available for apps and app data. This should be enough space for over a dozen different streaming service apps and maybe a couple small games, but if an app tends to cache a lot of data, that could fill up the 4.4GB of free space on the Chromecast pretty quickly.

There's no microSD slot on here to expand storage the way there is on the NVIDIA Shield TV, but there is still a way a way to attach an external drive for playing local files. Because the Chromecast with Google TV is powered through a USB-C port, you can use a USB-C hub with pass-through charging that's powered by a Power Delivery charger that's at least 36W in power to provide ample power to both the external drive and the Chromecast.

What buttons are on the Chromecast with Google TV remote?

At the top of the Chromecast remote is the D-pad for navigating through the Google TV interface, and under it sit eight keys: Back, Google Assistant, Home, Mute, YouTube, Netflix, Power, and TV Inputs. The Assistant key is a separate color from the rest of the remote in order to remind users that they can use Google Assistant to more easily find content or get answers to questions.

The volume buttons are actually on the right side of the remote between the D-pad and Assistant buttons, though they're placed in a way that should prevent you from hitting them on accident while using the remote to navigate.

Can you remap any buttons on the Chromecast remote?

At this time, there's no official method for remapping the YouTube and Netflix buttons on the Chromecast remote, but for now, the only customization you can make with these buttons is long-pressing the YouTube button. You can then set it to open YouTube Kids or YouTube Music (which just opens the Music tab of the main YouTube app).

The ability to set long-press to YouTube Kids is a nice feature for family friends and those with young children, as it gives you a one-button shortcut to child-safe content.

Can Chromecast with Google TV control your television?

The Chromecast with Google TV has HDMI-CEC (HDMI Consumer Electronic Control), a protocol that allows HDMI devices to talk to each other so that multiple devices could be controlled by a single remote. HDMI-CEC allows the Chromecast remote to turn off the TV the Chromecast plugged into, as well as adjust the TV's volume and even switch between inputs.

The Chromecast remote also has IR (infrared) in order to interact with your TV, but HDMI-CEC and the Bluetooth connection between the Chromecast with Google TV and its remote should be more than sufficient.

Control playback on your Chromecast with Google TV through Google Assistant

You may have noticed that among the buttons on the remote, there's no dedicated play/pause, fast forward or rewind buttons. In most apps, simply using the forward and backward buttons will let you skip through your video as desired, but some apps like Disney+ have unique playback interfaces that need extra button presses to fast-forward or rewind.

Thankfully, Google Assistant isn't just integrated into finding content in the Google TV home screen, you can use Google Assistant in most apps to control playback, pausing, playing, and seeking within a video. Some apps don't work with these commands — in our testing so far, Peacock is the only major streaming service that isn't compatible — but most will and without dedicated fast forward/rewind and pause/play controls, these Assistant commands will likely be the easiest way to do a quick rewind or scene skip.

Just repeat after me, folks! "OK Google, fast forward three minutes." "OK Google, rewind 30 seconds."

Which streaming services work with Google TV?

The more services that work with Google TV, the less you should need to go digging through individual apps for your next movie night. Most of the major services are compatible with Google TV right now, but Peacock is not. Given how new Peacock is, that's not terribly surprising, and it will hopefully be supported soon since it was mentioned by name in the announcement blog post for the Chromecast with Google TV.

  • ABC
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • AMC
  • A&E
  • CBS All Access
  • Crackle
  • Comedy Central
  • DC Universe
  • Disney NOW
  • Disney+
  • Epix Now
  • Fox Now
  • Hulu
  • HBO Go
  • HBO Max
  • History
  • Lifetime
  • MTV
  • NBC
  • Netflix
  • Pluto TV
  • Showtime
  • Showtime Anytime
  • Sling TV
  • Starz
  • TBS
  • The CW
  • TNT
  • Tubi TV
  • VH1

Which Live TV services work with Google TV?

Google TV doesn't just help you find on-demand content to watch, it can also integrate with streaming TV services. Or at least, in the future it'll integrate with streaming TV services. Right now, the only Live TV service that will manifest a Live tab in Google TV is YouTube TV.

If you've been meaning to try out YouTube TV, Google will give you a Chromecast with Google TV after your first billing cycle. A month of YouTube TV is more than the cost of a Chromecast with Google TV, but if you're seriously considering subscribing, it'll save you on the new device.

We'll do it live!

YouTube TV

Watch on the big screen and beyond.

YouTube TV now has over 85 channels on its service, plus over a dozen more channels through add-ons. Your family can watch up to three channels at the same time.

$65/month at YouTube

What is apps only mode on Google TV?

If you're not a fan of this new radically different interface for Android TV, you can swap back to a stripped-down interface called "apps only mode". You can turn this on through the Settings app, and it will transform the interface into a couple rotating recommendations and then a single row of apps.

Apps only mode could be tempting for some who don't want to deal with the multi-page layout that's algorithm-based, but there are some drawbacks. While in apps-only mode, the only app you can't use is Google Play Movies & TV — because the Google TV app replacing it is now the basis of the whole interface, not just a standalone app. So if you want to watch your purchased content in apps only mode, you'll have to go watch it in the YouTube app instead through the Purchases section.

If you want something a little less convoluted than Google TV, it's certainly an option, especially if you're trying to keep "trending" videos and shows off your TV.

What is the Google TV Watchlist and what services does it work with?

Google's Watchlist sounds like a new feature just for Google TV, but it's actually been around for years. This list originated as the Wishlist in Google Play, and you can add shows and movies to your wishlist from Google Play, Google TV, or from Google Search on your phone or laptop.

If you search for a show or film on Google, you can click Watchlist from the Knowledge Graph in the right panel of the search page to add it to the lit. Once you open the Watchlist on your Chromecast with Google TV, you'll be able to go through the list and then choose which service you watch the title from — from a subscription service if you're logged into it, or purchased directly through Google TV.

Can you play games on a Chromecast with Google TV?

Yes, you can download games through the Apps tab of Google TV and play them on your Chromecast. Given the limited storage space on the Chromecast, you won't be able to install that many games at one time, but you could still get a few party games going. Things are a little less clear once we switch from on-device gaming to game streaming, though.

Officially, Stadia won't be supported on Chromecast with Google TV until the first half of 2021, but some users have sideloaded the Stadia app and starting playing games in their library with no issue. We also have no word on when or if Xbox Game Pass or NVIDIA GeForce Now might come to Chromecast with Google TV.

Can you listen to Chromecast with Google TV with headphones?

Yes, you can pair Bluetooth headphones with the Chromecast with Google TV through the Settings menu, the same way you can pair a secondary Bluetooth remote or a game controller. You cannot plug wired headphones into the Chromecast remote, the way you might on a Roku or NVIDIA Shield TV, but Bluetooth support means that it's still easy to get your headphones connected. It also means that if you tend to watch with headphones while you're doing chores and walking between rooms — which I do far too often — you won't have to worry about walking out of range so long as your Chromecast is in a central room of your home.

Living room champ

Chromecast with Google TV

Google is taking the lead in the living room.

The fourth generation of the Google Chromecast is a huge upgrade over its predecessors, thanks to the new Google TV interface, 4K support, and a well-designed remote for an impressively low price.

$50 at Best Buy $50 at Walmart $50 at B&H

Source: androidcentral

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