Despite a few missing pieces, Google's upgraded Chromecast streaming device is an excellent way to boost your streaming experience, with recommendations and information based on the search engine's vast collection of data and many interesting ways to customize your experience.
Clean, easy-to-use user interface
Full integration with Nest smart home devices
Lovely color variations
Some streaming apps are missing (in some territories)
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Back in the days before the majority of TVs had not just streaming services but now smart assistants built right in, Google was ahead of the game with one of the first ways to stream content from the internet to your living room TV. Chromecast was simple but pretty revolutionary when it came to 'casting' content from our phones and other devices. However, it has been slightly overshadowed by the bevy of smart TV platforms that have emerged since.
Chromecast with Google TV has bridged the gap, offering both in one small device and allowing you to choose how you want to consume content. You can still open apps on your phone and cast, or you can use the Google TV interface for voice search, recommendations, and more.
We had the chance to test out the Chromecast with Google TV for ourselves, judging it on ease of use, compatibility with other Nest smart home products, and how it changed the way we browse and watch TV and movies. Read on to see what we thought, or head over to our in-depth Chromecast explainer.
Chromecast with Google TV: key info
- Resolution support: 4K or HD
- Surround sound support: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos
- Voice assistant: Google Assistant built-in
- Colors (sky & sunrise only available for 4K model): Sky (blue/green), sunrise (pink/coral), snow (white/black)
Chromecast with Google TV: set up
Google has made things as simple as possible regarding set-up, and you just need to plug in the dongle using the USB cable provided, plug the HDMI into your TV, and turn everything on. You will be greeted with a set-up page, and things are easiest if you already have a Google account (which would come with a Gmail account or even a YouTube membership).
From there, you can start adding the individual streaming services you want access to, from Google's own YouTube to third-party apps like Amazon's Prime Video and Freevee, Netflix, Disney+, AppleTV+, and a whole load more.
Chromecast with Google TV: design
Google has redesigned its streaming device many times over the years, starting off with a clunky dongle and now having had the ultimate glow-up for the latest generation. The Chromecast with Google TV 4K comes in three color variations - Sky, Sunrise, and Snow.
Each features one hue for the main body of the remote and another complementary one for the Google Assistant button and Chromecast dongle. It's an effective combination and is a far cry from the plain black of the original models. It also matches well with other Nest products, like its smart speakers and even the Nest Video Doorbell.
The buttons are also clearly labeled, so you won't be left guessing. The wheel at the top of the remote contains your 'enter' and directional buttons, followed by 'back,' 'Google Assistant,' 'home,' 'mute,' 'YouTube,' and 'Netflix.' Then down the bottom, you will find controls for power and input.
You can choose images from your Google Photos to display on the Chromecast screensaver and customize when this appears. We used this as a way to display seasonal photos and artwork through the months, transforming our TV into something more decorative when we weren't actively viewing something.
Chromecast with Google TV: performance
The Google TV interface is excellent, with enough content to scratch that scrolling itch but not enough to overwhelm you. The top line after logging in is recommendations which, based on what it served to us after a few weeks, are fairly accurate to our real tastes.
We also really like having new videos and recommendations from our YouTube account bundled with everything else, bringing those cooking videos, music, and movie trailers into the mix when choosing something to watch.
There are separate tabs for TV, movies, apps, and your library, which brings up shows and movies that you've added to your watchlist as well as those you've purchased through YouTube or Google TV. Like many other smart TV platforms, your watchlist can contain anything from the streaming services supported.
Press and hold on any show or movie, and options will appear. You can add something to your watchlist, mark it as 'seen,' 'liked,' or 'disliked,' and view more details. The details page has impressive detail and navigation features, which might be our favorite aspect of the platform.
For example, if we navigate to The Handmaid's Tale, it will bring up all of the places it is available to view, the cast and crew, and related YouTube content. If we then select Alexis Bledel from the cast list, we are served other content that the actress is featured in, from Gilmore Girls on Netflix to The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants on Prime.
It's so detailed that you could get lost just navigating similar series and shows, adding old favorites to your watchlist, and discovering new gems.
One big service missing in the UK is NOW TV, an alternative to Sky that many have come to rely on. You can still cast from the NOW TV app on mobile, but it's an extra step that feels laborious when everything else has been brought together so well. This is more of a problem with the release of Sky Stream. All4 is also conspicuously absent from Google TV.
Everything else you'd expect to see is here, from Netflix and Prime Video to Disney+ and a whole load of kids' apps, lifestyle apps, and more besides. There are also music apps like Spotify, Amazon Music, and Tidal. It's a deep library that we would recommend exploring.
Chromecast with Google TV: our verdict
We loved the Chromecast with Google TV, which adds to the already-fantastic service of Chromecast by itself. The user interface is one of the best we've tested, with all of the information and data that Google has on us finally being used for something useful. It's far more intuitive than some rival platforms, and the fact that you can just use it like any other Chromecast, streaming from your phone or laptop, makes it a truly multi-purpose tool for your entertainment.
About this review
Reviews on Livingetc are based on extended hands-on experience with the products we write about to ensure our recommendations are as trustworthy as possible. The Chromecast with Google TV was purchased several months ago by the writer, and she has been using it at home in the time since.
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Caroline is the smart home ecommerce editor for Livingetc, covering everything tech for the home, from smart speakers to air purifiers and everything in between. She is passionate about the role that technology and smart devices can play in daily life, enhancing the home without sacrificing personal style and carefully chosen interiors. In her spare time, she can be found tinkering with bulbs, soundbars, and video doorbells in an effort to automate every part of her small home. Previously, she lent her expertise to the likes of Expert Reviews, IT Pro, Coach, The Week, and more.
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