I’ve been using the Chromecast with Google TV and I’m going to take you through my experience with it what I like about it the top features and I’ll also take you through some of the issues and downsides I’ve had with the Chromecast.
Features of Chromecast with Google TV
let’s talk about features first up Google TV which is the UI that you see on the Chromecast and it’s one of the best parts of using this device over the long term because of one thing recommendations google tv does content recommendations extremely well.
I think google tv has come the closest to getting to that desired state of being able to just use one UI to find and discover tv shows and movies to watch versus the way a lot of us do it today which is clicking through each app individually to find content.
Google tv’s recommendations for me have been spot on over the past six months now part of this is due to the universal rating system, where you can rate shows and movies you like with a thumbs up or down as well as mark shows and movies as watched.
The more you do this the better recommendations you get.
Universal Watch List
Another part of the software I’ve absolutely loved using over the past six months is being able to add a show to the universal watch list gone are the days of having individual watch lists within each app with the Chromecast with google tv you can just have one watch list and add shows to it from a variety of apps and services.
User Interface Layout
The layout of google tv’s UI also just makes a lot of sense you have a top menu that consists of a search for your movies tv shows apps library and then your google profile icon at the top right which is consistent with other Google apps and where you’ll find the settings for the device each section is pretty self-explanatory and it’s easy to navigate around with a new Chromecast remote which I have a lot of feelings about.
the previous Chromecast was great at casting from your phone to the tv but it was never something I’d actually used to watch tv shows or movies because it didn’t have a remote and I always had to have my phone with me anytime I wanted to watch something with this new version of the Chromecast googled solved that issue and produced a really nice remote the buttons have a nice feel to them it’s easy to use reliable and I haven’t had any problems with it in the six months I’ve been using it the main thing you’ll use the remote for is to navigate the UI and you do this by using the top and bottom and left-right buttons along the top of the remote and when you want to click something you can click the center button inside of what looks like a little wheel.
Control other Devices with Remote
If you have a newer tv or other devices like a receiver or soundbar in your setup you can teach the Chromecast with google tv to turn on and off your devices and control their volume using either HDMI cec or with an IR blaster on the remote and in my experience it has worked well the only downside to using an IR blaster which is what I do because HDMI cec doesn’t completely work with my setup for some reason is that their blaster won’t always kick my receiver over to the correct HDMI input.
There is a dedicated dark button on the remote what does that do it controls the google assistant to use it just hold that button down and ask google for something you can ask for different types of tv shows or ask it to show a particular genre of content and you can, of course, use it for more regular assistant things like asking about the weather.
Available Streaming Services
Unlike some other streaming devices out there currently aren’t any disputes between google and other content companies over their apps on this device it comes with all of the main streaming services you’d expect like NetFlix Disney plus HBO max Hulu in amazon prime paramount plus etc and in the six months, I’ve been using the device apple tv plus has been added as well.
Another standout feature for this Chromecast like the ones before it is casting as I mentioned earlier you can easily cast media from a device like your android or ios phone tablet or a computer when you see the cast button available to your tv this is one of the greatest strengths with the Chromecast when you compare to other streaming devices out there because cast support is found in so many different types of apps like Spotify NetFlix google photos etc and if you have an android phone you can just cast whatever’s on your screen to the tv with a tap of a button.
The Chromecast with google tv does have support for wireless Bluetooth devices like wireless headphones. you can pair your wireless headphones to the device in settings and in my experience with this feature actually, it’s been alright but not great. I found that there’s too much interference in the Bluetooth signal for it to be usable in my experience and some of that may just be due to my Chromecast sitting behind a large receiver. so your experience may differ here based on the setup of your tv and sound system. so that’s one thing that hasn’t worked very well for me on the Chromecast with google tv.
Lack of universal playback controls
Now let’s dive into a couple of other downsides I’ve found while using the device. first is the lack of universal playback controls the skip forward and skip backward features do not work the same across all applications in some apps like apple tv plus you can just use the left and right buttons to skip ahead and skip back but in other apps like Disney plus when you hit the left and right buttons it’ll bring up a pop-up menu and then you’ll need to move the selector over to the rewind or fast forward icon and then hit the center button in order to fast forward or rewind which is just clunky, I wish google had done something here to enforce a consistent experience across all of its apps like Apple does with the apple tv.
No Recommendations from Netflix Originals
If you’re a Netflix fan unfortunately over the past six months Netflix originals will no longer show up as recommendations in the google tv UI now some NetFlix content will appear in the recommendation UI but it only seems to be the stuff NetFlix is currently licensing not its own shows and movies this is further backed up by when you use the google assistant to show you a NetFlix show like the queen’s gambit, for example, it’ll give you the watch page for the show but you’re unable to rate the show or tell google you’ve watched it which is kind of a bummer.
Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos & 4k support
Now the last big downside involves 4k Dolby vision and Dolby atmos. for those unfamiliar with atmos and vision. Dolby Vision is Dolby’s hdr technology that gives the picture on your tv a boost it makes bright objects in the images you see really pop.
Dolby Atmos is Dolby’s latest surround sound technology, where instead of having channels like the right speaker left speaker etc.
Atmos allows sound engineers and mixers to place sounds as three-dimensional objects around your environment using these speakers. so basically things sound better and more dynamic.
So what exactly does this have to do with a Chromecast? well for whatever reason certain apps on the Chromecast don’t have content available in Dolby vision Dolby atmos or even 4k sometimes when they do on other devices like the apple tv 4k.
No Disney+ 4K support
Disney plus just flat out doesn’t support 4k in general, for content like hamilton the Mandalorian wand division pretty much everything on the Disney plus app on the Chromecast is in HD. where this isn’t the case on other devices like my apple tv 4k.
Hulu & Amazon Prime 4K support
Also, atmos and vision support are inconsistent on the Hulu and amazon prime video apps. I noticed this with Hulu’s new WeWork documentary for example and amazon prime’s the sound of metal, which both did not show up in 4k on the Chromecast, where they did on the apple tv.
Conclusion / Recommendation
Alright so given the downsides and issues I’ve run into while using the Chromecast with google tv over the past few months, do I ultimately recommend getting one? well, in general, yes
The google tv UI is one of the best I’ve seen on any streaming device, and at 50 $ it’s hard to beat. even with all of the downsides I’ve encountered with this device for fifty dollars that price more than makes up for them when you compare it to other streaming devices like the apple tv 4k which goes for 179 $.
Now is the Chromecast the mainstreaming box I use now that it comes with a remote actually no and it’s because of that 4k Dolby vision and atmos content issue in certain apps?
This is the only use case where I don’t recommend getting the Chromecast with google tv right now and would instead point you elsewhere.
All right well, I hope you found this review helpful and informative.