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Chromecast with Google TV review: full smart TV upgrade with voice remote

Guardian Technology 29 Jan 2021 07:00
Google’s new good-value Android TV streaming stick has new slick-looking Google TV interface alongside the usual Chromecast features. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Google’s latest Chromecast streaming media dongle is a bit different. Instead of just streaming or “casting” content from your mobile or computer like its predecessors, the new device acts more like a modern smart TV.

With a full interface and a remote, the new Chromecast with Google TV costs £59.99 and sits above the basic £30 Chromecast. You can still Google Cast to the new device, but the new flat plastic dongle is more than just a simple receiver, running the full Android TV software similar to the Nvidia Shield or smart TVs from Sony and others.

Specifications

  • Processor: quad-core ARM

  • RAM: 2GB

  • Storage: 4GB

  • Connectivity: wifi ac, Bluetooth, HDMI 2.0b (HDCP2.2)

  • Software: Android TV (Android 10)

  • Format support: up to 4K @ 60Hz, Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+; Dolby Atmos, Digital and Digital Plus

  • Dimensions: 162 x 61 x 12.5mm

Once plugged in, the new Chromecast is set up using the Google Home app on an Android, iPhone or iPad in about five minutes. Scan the QR code on your TV, log in with the required Google account, and choose some apps to install. You can also add additional Google accounts for limited multi-user support such as the ability to access more than one account in apps such as YouTube.

There’s also a search tab, but the interface is entirely geared up for using voice to search with the remote. Press and hold the Google Assistant button while speaking and it will either find what you want or perform the desired action.

The Chromecast with Google TV generally performs well when actively streaming content. Apps launch fairly quickly, movies start streaming in high quality immediately on start and the dongle supports all the latest video and audio formats, including 4K UHD, HDR10 and HDR10+, Dolby Vision and the various Dolby surround sound technologies including the latest Atmos.

The Chromecast with Google TV is made with 46% post-consumer recycled plastic in its mechanical parts. The remote takes standard AAA batteries, of which two non-rechargeable types are included.

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