Chromecast with Google TV HD review: Just a great little streaming dongle

Google’s newest streaming dongle is so just like the that once I first opened it up, I skilled a bit of deja vu. The brand new Chromecast with Google TV nonetheless has a puckish oval design, it comes packaged with an similar distant and even the OS powering all the pieces is (largely) unchanged. The one main distinction (a minimum of on the surface) is up to date packaging that incorporates a label that claims “HD.” So as a substitute of supporting 4K shows, this new extra inexpensive Chromecast is aimed squarely at individuals seeking to stream reveals and films on 1080p screens. And from the place I am sitting, that is simply positive, as a result of whereas it is restricted to HD content material, this factor delivers basically the identical nice watching expertise that we cherished on the unique.

The fundamentals

I am not going to bore you with the standard design part, as a result of the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) is extremely simple and virtually a carbon copy of its predecessor. There’s the Chromecast itself which plugs straight into your TV by way of HDMI, a separate distant with a built-in mic and Google Assistant button for voice controls and an influence adapter with a USB cable that you need to use in case your TV cannot provide sufficient juice utilizing solely HDMI.

The Chromecast with Google TV's UI is almost entirely unchanged as well featuring a straightforward layout with a number of important tabs for various content across the top.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Setup is extremely simple too. Because of an replace in Android 12 for TV (which comes pre-installed), there is a new sign-on course of that works by utilizing your telephone to scan a QR code within the Google Residence app. This cuts out the tedium of getting to enter your credentials, hook up with WiFi and so forth. Although, if you would like to do issues manually, that is nonetheless an choice too.

As soon as the Chromecast is up and working, you possibly can log into your favourite streaming apps as regular after which dive into a few of the extra superior settings like HDMI CEC (Client Electronics Management) which permits the Chromecast to do stuff like routinely activate while you hearth up your TV. You may as well use Google’s controller pairing setting to program the Chromecast’s distant to reflect vital capabilities like adjusting the amount or switching inputs. Which means in the event you’re like me and you’ve got a comparatively easy setup, you would possibly even be capable to stash your TV’s distant in a drawer and rely fully on the Chromecast, which is a good way to chop down on muddle.

The streaming expertise

The Chromecast with Google TV's remote is very compact and features a side-mounted volume rocker similar to a smartphone.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

In the case of discovering one thing to observe, issues could not be less complicated. There is a devoted row throughout that prime that makes it straightforward to seek out reveals, films, apps and bought content material, together with a Dwell tab that works with a handful of streaming TV providers (YouTube TV, Pluto TV, Sling TV, Philo), so you possibly can leap into presently airing program straight from the principle dwelling display.

Naturally, as this mannequin is concentrated on 1080p content material, you will not get assist for 4K movies. However even with the HD mannequin’s comparatively light-weight specs (simply 1.5GB of RAM with an Amlogic S805X2 chip), efficiency felt similar to what you get on the unique Chromecast with Google TV. Upon startup, there’s typically a little bit of lag because the dongle masses the OS and pulls down artwork for content material suggestions. And in the event you listen, you may also discover some small hitches while you change between apps or settings actually rapidly. However usually, issues are clean, particularly throughout playback, which is when it actually issues.

Gallery: Chromecast with Google TV HD pictures | 7 Images

The opposite notable characteristic you will not get on this new cheaper Chromecast is assist for Dolby Imaginative and prescient. That stated, this omission would not really feel like an enormous deal as loads of 1080p TVs (notably older ones) cannot deal with that anyway. A minimum of there’s nonetheless assist for HDR10.

Different new additions in Android 12 for TV

As the primary system to characteristic Android 12 for TV pre-installed, the brand new Chromecast contains various useful quality-of-life enhancements that can finally make their strategy to different Google TV gadgets. These embrace the power to regulate the textual content scaling (from 85 % as much as 130 %), choices for matching your content material’s framerate (which is ready to auto by default) and a few further encompass sound controls. And identical to Android 12 on telephones, you will additionally get a bit of pop-up when the Chromecast prompts its mic, so there is not any confusion about when it is listening to you.


The Chromecast with Google TV HD comes with an included remote, the dongle itself and a USB cable and adapter for power.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

With the Chromecast with Google TV (HD), it is clear the corporate did not attempt to do an excessive amount of. And that is completely OK, as a result of the unique blueprint works positive. It’s simply tailor-made for 1080p screens right here. You get the identical nice UI, a nifty compact distant that covers all of the fundamentals, and greater than adequate efficiency — all for simply $30. So in the event you’ve acquired an getting old set or secondary show that might profit from a contemporary streaming TV OS (and have not already invested in one other streaming platforms), the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) is the watch buddy you want.

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