Chromecast Is Dead, Long Live Chromecast with Google TV
This is the old Chromecast. It retailed at about $30, but in reality, it’s now worthless. And you can forget about the Chromecast Ultra. That was the 4k version of the old Chromecast, it went for $70. Both are now officially bricks, because we have the new Chromecast, technically called Chromecast with Google TV. And frankly, I’m in love. Mostly. Let’s dive in.
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A better competitor to Amazon Fire & Roku
So let’s talk about this new Chromecast. The device retails at $50, right in between where the two old Chromecast devices were, and it’s in line with Roku and Amazon’s streaming sticks.
So where the old Chromecast was in a category all its own, clearly this new one is meant to compete more directly with those Roku and Firesticks, and it does as far as I’m concerned, especially thanks to this thing. Oh, but we’re going to come back to this remote in just a moment.
For now, let’s talk about the interface for Chromecast with Google TV a little bit, and the experience that we have had.
So yes, Chromecast with Google TV runs Android TV, but it’s a customized version. It won’t look like other Android TV menus that you might be used to on something like the NVIDIA SHIELD TV or the TiVo stream 4k. It feels somewhere in between. It’s like if an Amazon Fire menu had a baby with a Netflix menu, something like that.
All right. So the default menu on the Chromecast with Google TV is called “For You”. The “For You” menu does a great job of incorporating content from all of your sources, and some you aren’t necessarily subscribed to, or even have downloaded.
For instance, I haven’t downloaded Sony Crackle onto this device and they provide free commercial supported content, but I’ll still get recommendations from Crackle every once in a while. Frankly, I don’t mind that, especially if they’re pushing free to watch content most of the time, but they do also push a lot of stuff from HBO Max. And if you don’t have that, that can get a little bit annoying for them to keep pushing you to spend that $15.
Better personal recommendations
But for the most part, what I really like about the new Chromecast with Google TV is that it makes very good personal recommendations. The content on this screen that is not available for you to watch for free, it’s going to give you a little lock button or a lock icon that says that this is locked, you’re going to have to purchase something to get it. And it is going to point you toward Google in order to make your rentals or purchases.
It does that, but it doesn’t feel quite as intrusive as it does on the Fire TV. It’s one of the things I’ve always disliked about the Fire TV. It really pushes you to spend more money on Amazon. Google does that, but it doesn’t feel quite as intrusive, like I said.
So like I said, a big part of this is the personalized recommendations and Google does this really well. Frankly, Google knows a lot more about you than you think, right? If you’ve ever used Chrome or any of their other devices, they know a lot about you. Now that can get a little creepy. I understand, but it does make for some great personalized recommendations on this “For You” screen and on the other screens as well.
You can personalize this even further. If you come to an item on the screen, you can long-hold on that item and select to like or dislike it. This further personalizes the recommendations that you’re going to get from Chromecast with Google TV.
Chromecast with Google TV menus
Moving on to Chromecast with Google TV menus, the next ones are movies and shows. It’s exactly what you would think. It’s basically the same thing, it’s just divided up.
Are you more in the mood for a movie or a show? It’s basically organized a bit like Netflix. They organize it into categories so you can get your dramas and your comedies and so on and so forth. But it’s pulling in recommendations from all over your app library.
Chromecast with Google TV apps tab. This organizes a few featured apps by category, but they’re not going to put every app available here on this screen. So if you want to find something obscure, or something really off the beaten path, then you’re probably going to have to know what you’re looking for so you can search for it. Probably not going to find it on this screen.
As far as what is here on the Chromecast with Google TV apps tab, there always seems to be some app or another missing, right? Roku doesn’t have HBO Max, Amazon FireTV doesn’t have HBO Max or Peacock.
In this case, there’s no Apple TV+, which is not available on any of the Google platforms. I was disappointed by that. I would love to get that on this device, but, from what I understand from the comments, most of you, aren’t going to care too much about that.
Lastly, there is the library tab next to that. It holds a lot of promise, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a little disappointing at the moment.
So here’s how it works. On the Google TV menus, whether it’s the”For You” menu, the movies or shows, whatever, you can save something to your watch list, if you long-hold on it and save it. So you’re not going into the individual apps, you’re doing this from the Google TV menu.
If you save that to your watch list, it will show up in the library tab. Same thing if you purchase or rent something through Google’s Movies Anywhere service, it’s all going to show up right in the Chromecast with Google TV Library Tab. So far, since you can gather everything in one place, I like this.
This is a lot like what I love from another Android TV device, the TiVo Stream 4k. And like the TiVo, you don’t get a continue watching option on the Chromecast with Google TV, which is too bad. It just takes you to the relevant app to watch that content, which is okay I guess. I wish it were different. I wish they had a continue watching option, so you could see what episode you’re on, or how far you are in a certain episode on a certain show.
They do have a continue watching option on the “For You” screen, but as far as I can tell, it only shows up with Netflix so far. I haven’t been able to get any other app to show up there. So yeah, I wish it were there, but oh well. At least they let you aggregate all of your content into one place.
Library tab layout problem
The big problem here is the layout, which is horizontal. So if you have a big Movies Anywhere collection, or have a lot of shows saved, well, get ready for some awkward, possibly endless scrolling. I do hope this gets changed with a software update in the future. I guess we’ll see.
For the most part though, my experience in the Google TV menus was very, very positive. The little touches are nice. For instance, my music on Spotify will continue playing as I browse through Google TV. So as I leave the Spotify app, I can still listen to the music that I had going there. Or I can long hold the home button and turn on a slideshow to play while that music is going. That’s kind of neat.
Anyway, again, make sure you subscribe for the inevitable tips and tricks video that I’ll do for this device in the coming week.
Hardware, Power & Remote
Hardware, power, and remote
Okay. Let’s talk about the device itself. Let’s talk about the hardware that you get. What comes in the box?
It is a little bit bigger and a little bit thinner than what you used to get with the old Chromecast, but it is still a familiar, recognizable dongle. It comes in three colors, white, blue, and red, but honestly, that’s only going to matter when it comes to the remote, since everything else will be hidden behind your TV, right? And when it comes to those colors, for my taste, they were a little bit too pastel, so I went with the white.
Powering the Chromecast with Google TV
And the last thing to note here on this device is that it used to be with the old Chromecast that it was possible sometimes, depending on your TV, that you could plug the power cable into the USB port on your TV and get enough power from that. That is not the case with the new Chromecast. It must be plugged into the wall and they do provide a cord for that.
But again, it was maybe not quite to my taste because it was a little bit short. I keep my TV high up on the wall and that means it needs an extension cord, basically for me to plug it into the lower wall socket down below.
Google TV remote
But now let’s talk about the remote. So the remote right here, when I saw the remote online, I saw the design, I hated it. When I used the remote, when I got it in my hands, I loved it–honestly.
So the remote, again, if we’re talking about things having babies, this is like a Roku remote and an Apple TV remote had a baby in a way, it feels similar to both of those in a way. It does have volume and power buttons, and so if you set it up right, it will control the volume and power for your TV.
This little circle on the Chromecast with Google TV remote , the big circle, I guess we should call it, is a D pad, a directional pad, not a scroll wheel. So it doesn’t turn like a scroll wheel. It looks like it’s going to, but that D pad does feel great. It’s super responsive. It was easy for me to navigate the menus and even type a few things out when I needed to.
The buttons on Chromecast with Google TV remote are a good size and they’re well spaced. And so you’re not going to be doing a lot of fat fingering and pushing the wrong button accidentally. Once you get to know where the buttons are, you’ll never have to look at it again.
And there is a dedicated Netflix button and one for YouTube just next to that. You can long hold and remap that YouTube button to other YouTube apps. So you can do YouTube itself or YouTube TV, YouTube Kids, YouTube Music.
The bottom line and final verdict
All right, so what’s the verdict on this device? Like I said at the beginning, this is clearly meant to compete with Roku and Firesticks, and after a couple of days with it, my first impression is that it absolutely does.
There were definitely a few things I would smooth over, but for the most part, my experience was overwhelmingly positive. I miss the Apple TV+ app, but I also know that I’m in the minority there. So chances are good you won’t even notice it’s missing because you won’t care.
The bottom line here is that after my first impressions, I’m happy to recommend the Chromecast with Google TV. It’s a fantastic device. If you’re dissatisfied with the Roku or the Amazon Fire TV stick these days, because they don’t have HBO Max or Peacock or whatever, and you don’t want to spend almost $200 on an Apple TV or a NVIDIA SHIELD TV, then definitely take a hard look at the new Chromecast with Google TV.
So there you have it. Those are my initial thoughts on the Chromecast with Google TV.
But I want to know your thoughts as well. Whether you have tried it already or you’re thinking about it, let me know your comments and questions below and on your way down there, don’t forget to like and subscribe for content much like this one.
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