TV streaming dongles and boxes used to simply be a way for older, dumber TVs to gain access to streaming channels. But with almost every TV on the market today being a smart TV, what’s the allure of a dongle, like the brand new Google Chromecast with Google TV?
Google Chromecast with Google TV review
For a lot of people, choosing an external streamer means they get a familiar operating system they know and love. For others it’s about being able to connect your TV and smartphone, tablet, or laptop, since some TV’s operating systems don’t work seamlessly with all smartphones. In this review of Google’s new Chromecast with Google TV I’ll take a look at what this streaming device can do, and whether I think it’s a good buy.
New more natural design
The all new Chromecast with Google TV has been redesigned; it’s now got a softer, more pebbly rounded shape kind of like the new Nest Audio speakers did. It retains the same puck-and-HDMI cable configuration that makes it super easy to hide behind your TV.
New Remote on Chromecast with Google TV
The big new addition to this device is the addition of a remote control—now with voice control. With its previous generations of Chromecast, Google seemed to pooh-pooh physical remotes in favour of using only your smartphone.
I think the addition of a remote is great because it’s often easier to grab a remote and hit one or two buttons, instead of finding my phone, navigating to the right app, and then trying to control the TV.
The new voice remote can also be used to control your TV or sound bar, change the volume, switch inputs, and more.
4K ready with Dolby
The Chromecast with Google TV is 4K ready, has Dolby Vision (it also supports HDMI pass-through of Dolby audio content) and HDR and can stream 60 fps.
What can Google TV interface do?
Now, let’s get to know the Google TV user interface. One of Google’s big features on this device is that Google TV organizes movies and TV shows from your streaming services in one place.
Chromecast with Google TV will make recommendations based on what you’ve watched and what interests you from across your subscriptions and content available to you.
Google TV’s Watchlist lets you bookmark movies and shows you want to save for later. You can add to your Watchlist right from a Google search on your phone or laptop, and it will be waiting on your TV when you get home. (You do have to be signed into your google account). Since the Watchlist feature is available via Google Search, you can use it on an iPhone, iPad, Android device, or any web browser. To get started, simply search Google for a movie or TV show.
While adding something to your Watchlist is easy, finding it to browse is not… It’s not in your main tabs, and you can try asking Google for it but it kept calling up a TV show called Watchlist. In the end I found it… buried in a tab called Library. Looks like this needs a bit of work or some re-naming.
Control smart home devices with Google Assistant on your TV
You can talk to your Google Assistant about more than just what’s on TV. Ask Google to control smart home gadgets, dim the lights, show you your Nest home security cameras or to adjust the setting on your Nest Thermostat.
Can you use Chromecast/Google Assistant when the TV is off?
I couldn’t find a specific answer to this. But when I tried talking to Google with just my voice, and NOT using the Google Assistant button on the remote there was no reply. My experience with this seems to be the Google Assistant does not act on its own as a voice-activated alone digital assistant.
Cast from devices
One of the big reasons folks add a streaming device like Chromecast is to be able to share content from their phones. With Chromecast with Google TV you can cast from more than a thousand compatible Android and iOS apps directly from your phone, laptop or tablet plus mirror your Chrome web browser tab to your TV. To do it, look for the Cast icon (a rectangle with Wi-Fi bars in the corner) in compatible apps.
If I have a smart TV, do I still need Chromecast?
One of the biggest reasons you might consider adding a Chromecast to an already smart TV is for the search feature. With Chromecast with Google TV, you can search across all channels instead of having to go in and out of each channel or streaming app. Also, for Android users, you might find it’s a more seamless sharing experience.
Overall review of Google Chromecast with Google TV
Overall. this is a cool 4K streaming device. I love the compact size and new pebble shape. I also like the Chromecast TV interface; it’s easy to understand and navigate. I think this is a great purchase if you’re looking for an android-friendly streaming device.
The all new Chromecast with Google TV is available at Best Buy.