So I recently bought a Chromecast with Google TV to see what all the fuss was about. I noticed there are a lot of things most Chromecast with Google TV reviews don’t mention.
If you’re thinking about buying one, and you’re looking for some hands-on information, continue reading this post.
Is Chromecast with Google TV Worth It?
Chromecast with Google TV is worth it because it can run Netflix and Live-TV apps, it offers 4K support, you can play games with it, install Android apps, and it has a USB-C port with room for expansion. It also comes with a remote.
What is Chromecast with Google TV?
Chromecast with Google TV is a regular disc-shaped Chromecast that runs a new UI for Android TV with a few extra features. You can think of Chromecast with Google TV as a Google-brand Android box. The new Chromecast not only supports casting but it’s also a dedicated Android machine.
- Quad-Core ARM A55 1.9GHZ Processor
- 2 GB RAM
- 8 GB Storage
- WIFI, Bluetooth
- USB-C Power
I know, you might be thinking if the new Chromecast runs Android, why not buy a dedicated Android box instead? And that is a valid option. In fact, most Android TV boxes have more internal storage than Chromecast, as well as other features.
But Chromecast has some cool features too!
The downside to Android TV boxes is most don’t have a very intuitive UI (like Google TV) and they’re a lot bigger, requiring dedicated space on your TV stand. The new Chromecast is basically a tiny disc that can hang out of an HDMI port on your TV.
It’s been a few days since I set up the new Chromecast. I spent quite a lot of time browsing the app store and testing out different apps and features. There are also some pretty obvious downsides which I’ll get into later on.
Where to Buy?
P.S. This would go great with a 4K OLED TV.
What’s In the Box:
The Chromecast with Google TV’s box includes the Chromecast, a remote, a USB-C power cable, a USB-power outlet, and two AAA batteries for the remote. You also get the usual product manual and other information.
Setting up Chromecast with Google TV:
Once powered on, the Chromecast will walk you through the steps. To set up the new Chromecast all you have to do is plug it into a free HDMI port on your TV, insert the power cable into the USB-C port, and plug the cable into a USB power adapter.
Chromecast with Google TV cannot be powered from your TV’s USB ports like the earlier models. It needs to be connected to a power outlet via the USB-C cable. I tried using a free USB port on the TV and the Chromecast showed an error saying it needs more power.
Google Home is the app you need to complete the initial setup. You do need to sign in to a Google Account. You can also skip the Google Home setup and do it directly from the Chromecast using the remote
It took me about 10 minutes to complete the setup process and then the Chromecast had to download new firmware. Everything is very straightforward.
- Uses Bluetooth
- Compatible with IR
- Needs 2 AAA Batteries
- Can Control TV via HDMI CEC
The remote is a great new addition because it makes it easy to navigate the menus. It also has a dedicated button for Netflix and YouTube as well as a voice assistant. But it has some issues.
Chromecast with Google TV will walk you through the remote button pairing sequence. You do need to select your TV manufacturer from the list and test the buttons. If everything works correctly, the remote should be able to control the volume on your TV and even switch sources. It can connect via IR or Bluetooth.
Remote’s Best Features:
What’s cool about the remote is it can pair with your TV, so you don’t need to keep switching between remotes to turn on the TV, adjust volume, or change HDMI input sources. The remote does this via HDMI CEC which is automatically enabled if supported by your TV.
Speaking of CEC, when you press a button on the remote, the TV will automatically turn on. So you don’t even have to press the power button to turn on the TV. If you press the Netflix button, for example, the TV will power on and open Netflix. Really cool. Whenever Chromecasts detect a command, it will turn on the TV and display the media.
Naturally, you can always disable the CEC function so you don’t accidentally turn on your TV from another room, blaring sound in the middle of the night.
The Remote’s Issues:
Unfortunately, as is my luck with electronics, even after selecting my TV manufacturer and testing the buttons, the input (change source) button won’t work. It opens the source-select screen but it won’t detect the navigation, I can’t select any other source, and have to switch to my other remote to select a source.
The experience will depend on your TV. I connected it to my parent’s Sony TV and the Chromecast remote was able to control all the TV’s functions with no problems (volume, power, change sources, etc.).
What’s interesting is your TV’s remote can be used to navigate Google TV too. Of course, not all the buttons work, and there are no dedicated buttons for apps.
And even another alternative is you can download an app on your phone to use your phone as a remote for the Chromecast. I actually prefer this method because typing is much easier on the phone than with the remote.
Now let’s move on to the actual Chromecast. Once you power on the Chromecast, pair the remote, and install the latest firmware, and it’s time to see what this device can do.
Chromecast with Google TV’s Best Features:
There are so many features to talk about, so I’ll start with the new major upgrades. Most Chromecasts would only let you cast media, they wouldn’t install apps because they didn’t have an operating system or storage space.
1 – Casting Services
Yep, all the casting features that you would expect from a Chromecast still work on this version. The most popular apps for casting would be Netflix and YouTube but you can also cast other apps and media. If you see a little casting icon on an app, the Chromecast should support it.
For example, you can cast Google Photos to the Chromecast, screen-mirror a phone, and even share your computer’s screen via Google Chrome. Very cool. You can also cast from Apple products too, but you can’t screen-mirror iPhone screens, at least not as easily as with Android phones.
2 – Run & Install Apps (Internal Storage)
This is by far the best feature and one that was lacking in older generations. The new Chromecast with Google TV can run independently like a set-top box and you can install apps with no problems.
It comes with about 8 GB of storage but most of it is consumed by Android software, so there are only around 4.5 GBs available. There are ways to expand the storage, which I’ll talk about a little later on. Basically, it’s a little Android device.
You don’t have to stick to the preloaded apps. You can install other apps that are compatible with the Google Play store or even sideload apps (unofficially). The device supports media streaming apps such as Plex, Spotify, Network Sharing, and VLC.
Access Shared Folders on the Network:
You can share a folder on your computer and then watch that media on Chromecast by using one of the network-sharing apps. I found this particularly useful. If you download a lot of movies or shows, that’s a really easy way to put them on the Chromecast without having to take up the Chromecast’s storage space.
VLC has a built-in network sharing feature (but it doesn’t work great for images) and you can use other networking sharing apps too. VLC will automatically scan for local file-sharing groups on the network.
I had no problems playing media from the Chromecast over the network. Of course, the device where the folder is located needs to be on. I imagine you could also make a server for your home, but we won’t be getting into that right now.
I use VLC’s network-sharing features for movies and TV shows.
There are actually a surprising amount of games available for the Chromecast with Google TV and you can even stream games from other devices via Steam Link or a similar service (similar to game-streaming on Chromebooks).
You do need a controller through, a PS4 controller worked perfectly, and other Bluetooth controllers should work too.
Steam Link didn’t work very well for me, but that may have been due to my WIFI network being a potato. Besides Steam Link, there are some basic Android games that will run but require a controller. Emulators are available too! For a test, I played a bit of Megaman and Mario World, and everything worked great. It was like I was a kid again.
Another gaming app that I played around with is Air Console, it’s a set of free simple games you can play on the TV while using your phone as a controller. There are lots of different games available, some of which require membership, but the free ones are fun too. I played the retro pack with some friends for a bit.
Read my full guide on how to play games on Chromecast with Google TV for more tips.
It’s a lot of fun!
3 – USB-C Hub Support
The second best new feature on the latest generation of Chromecast is the USB-C port. At first, it doesn’t look like much, you probably think it’s simply used for power.
But you can actually attach USB-C hubs to this port and expand the number of ports on the Chromecast. You can use the same hubs that you would use for Samsung Dex.
Before you buy a USB-C hub, make sure it has power pass-through, because the Chromecast still needs power too. This Anker 6-in-1 USB-C Hub is a good choice, it also adds an ethernet port that will improve the internet speed on the Chromecast.
As you can imagine, with these hubs you can add a host of new features to the Chromecast. You can connect a keyboard, mouse, controller, expand the storage, connect an ethernet cable, and much more. Get creative!
1 – Not Much Internal Storage
The Chromecast advertises 8 GB of storage but it’s really only around 4.5 available and it goes down very fast. You’ll be surprised how bloated some apps can be.
2 – Hard to Type on Remote
One of the most heavily marketed features of the new Chromecast is the suggestion feature. What it does is sync your recently watched movies or TV shows, across various apps, and recommend similar ones for you to watch. I haven’t really found much use for the suggestions because I only really use Netflix and it already has a suggested feature.
That brings us to my point. Typing on the remote takes a pretty long time because you have to choose one letter at a time.
It’s a hassle if you want to search for something specific. I thought the voice assistant would use voice to text like a phone’s keyboard but that’s not the case. It usually finds completely unrelated movies or TV shows.
You can type using the Android TV remote on your phone. However, I think the best way to type on the new Chromecast is to connect a Bluetooth keyboard. Here’s a Bluetooth keyboard by Jelly Comb that supports multiple Bluetooth connections.
I bought the Chromecast mainly to turn my parent’s TV into a smart TV for them to watch Netflix but they had a hard time learning how to use the remote to type. I will be sending them a Bluetooth keyboard soon.
To summarize my Chromecast with Google TV review, it’s a really handy gadget for streaming media and even playing some retro games. I’m very happy with my purchase and I will likely be buying a second one soon.
I still haven’t learned all of its secrets yet, and I will update this article when I learn more. For example, how to sideload and install APKS. Nevertheless, I think it’s totally worth buying and perfect for cord-cutters.
What do you think? Got any questions? I would be happy to answer them for you.
How Much Storage Does Chromecast with Google TV Have?
Most Chromecasts with Google TV have about 8 GB of internal storage of which around 4 GB of which is usable for apps and files. You can uninstall pre-loaded apps to increase storage space.
Does Chromecast with Google TV Have Google Chrome?
Chromecast with Google TV does not support the Google Chrome web browser at the moment but there are some alternative browsers, such as Puffin Browser.
Can You Pair a PS4 Controller to Chromecast?
You can pair a PS4 controller to Chromecast with Google TV over Bluetooth and use the controller to navigate the user interface.
Can I Use Chromecast with Google TV in a Car?
Chromecast with Google TV comes with an AC power adapter, unlike the older versions that could be powered by any USB port.
You can use Chromecast with Google TV in a car via the cigarette lighter 18W port but you need to buy an adapter that either has USB slots or converts to AC. This car power inverter could work.
Does Chromecast with Google TV Have Bluetooth?
Yes, and you can pair multiple devices at the same time.
Does Chromecast with Google TV Support 4K?
Chromecast with Google TV supports 4K HDR and Dolby Vision.