Since its introduction in 2013, Google’s Chromecast devices have been an easy way to turn your TV into a smart TV. And while the Chromecast hasn’t fundamentally changed, the change to making it a proper streaming player has changed the idea of what a Chromecast is.

Design & Hardware

The new Chromecast with Google TV’s design takes a page out of the 3rd Gen from 2018. With its rubberized finish and dongle design that plugs straight into your TV’s HDMI port.

You’ll find a Google “G” logo on the front of the device and a reset button on the back. There is a USB-C port for port but you can also connect a USB-C hub to add Ethernet to the Chromecast.

For review, Google sent the Blue colour option which features a matching remote and batteries.

The remote for the new Chromecast is very similar to the ones that the Daydream View headsets had.

Google Chromecast with Google TV next to Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

While the Daydream’s remote has more of a grippy texture, the new Chromecast’s remote is much slippery making it more likely to slide out of your hand. The remote has several buttons including Back, Home, Mute, YouTube, Netflix, volume, TV power, TV input and Google Assistant.

With the power button, you can turn on/off your connected TV and the volume buttons will control your TV’s volume as well.

If you don’t want to use the YouTube and Netflix buttons as intended, you can remap them using an app called Button Remapper. From there, you can have those buttons open other installed apps like Plex or Disney+.

There’s also an LED at the end of the remote that lights up solid when you’re talking to the Google Assistant. To speak to the Google Assistant, you’ll need to hold the Assistant button. The remote also features a circular D-pad with a select button in the middle.

It would have been great if there were proper media control buttons for play/pause and fast-forward/rewind like on the Fire TV and Roku players.

The new Chromecast can support video playback of up to 4K HDR resolution with support for Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HDR10+ content. There’s also 802.11ac Wi-Fi support and Bluetooth.

The Chromecast with Google TV is available now for $69 CAD from:

It comes in a few colours, White, Pink and Blue.

Software

To get started with the new Chromecast, you’ll need the Google Home app on Android or iOS.

During the setup process, you’ll be asked to connect your streaming services like Prime Video and Netflix. This is will make it easier when finding content via Google Assistant.

The nice part about the new Chromecast being part of the Google Home app is that you can add your device to a multi-room speaker group with your Google Assistant speakers.

As the name implies, the new Chromecast is running Google TV, which isn’t a new OS but rather a skin on top of Android TV (based on Android 10). Think of this as Google’s interpretation of what Android TV should look and feel like, similar to what they do with Android on the Pixel phones.

With Google TV, it’s much more content-focused, meaning the interface is designed in such a way where you can easily find new shows and movies to watch across various streaming services.

The Google TV interface is divided up into a few sections, Search, For You, Movies, Shows, Apps and Library. Search is where you can find new stuff to watch with the Google Assistant.

You can talk to the Google Assistant by holding down the button on the remote and start speaking. You can say things like “show me, animated movies” or “show me the latest Marvel movies” and it’ll show you where to watch this stuff. Using the Google Assistant was fairly quick but sometimes it would take a few seconds.

One issue I found was that when trying to launch apps with the Google Assistant, it wouldn’t always work. When I first set up the device, I set it to English (Canada) and I was able to launch apps like Netflix and YouTube via the Google Assistant easily but when I tried to launch Disney+ or Prime Video, it would say “Ok, opening Disney+ on New Chromecast” and then nothing happened.

It was only until after I changed the language setting to English (US) that launching apps with the Google Assistant worked easily.

Since the new Chromecast as the Google Assistant built-in, you can use the device as basically a smart display, meaning you can control your smart lights, change your smart thermostat temperature or even a few your video doorbell feed. If you ask for the weather, it’ll show you the forecast for the entire week on your screen like on a Google Nest Hub Max.

The For You page is your home screen, where you’ll see Top Picks for you to watch. Below the Top Picks is your installed apps and below that is your continue watch section from across all your streaming services linked to your account (Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ etc).

Movies and Shows sections are filled with titles that Google thinks you’ll enjoy based on what you’ve watched previously.

Apps is where you’ll be able to installed previously installed apps and download new apps from the Play Store. You’ll find many popular streaming apps like Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, Crave and more and ones like Bell Fibe TV, Sportsnet, CBC Gem etc.

Library is where you’re purchased content from Google Play like movies and shows. At the very end where your Google account profile picture is located, that’s where you can find the settings for the Chromecast.

Navigating around the interface is usually smooth and quick but sometimes can be delayed when in an app to going to the homescreen. If you prefer not to use Google TV, there is an option to use Apps-Only mode which shows your installed apps and a list of Google recommendations.

Final Thoughts

The Chromecast with Google TV is a welcome addition to the lineup that puts it up against the likes of Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

Pros

  • Streams 4K HDR content with ease including Dolby Vision
  • Cheaper than Chromecast Ultra
  • Google Assistant button on remote works well mostly
  • The Google Assistant built-in makes your TV a Smart Display
  • Dedicated remote makes it easier to control over past Chromecasts

Cons

  • No dedicated media controls on remote
  • Remote is very slippery and on the smaller side
  • Small storage (around 8GB) to install apps and games

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