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Summary

Google finally did the right thing by transforming Chromecast from a “Google Cast receiver” into a full-fledged media player on Android TV, sorry, Google TV. The player has a fast and user-friendly interface, support for all significant licensed streaming services, adequate performance, Google Assistant voice search – the list of advantages goes on. At the same time, it costs less than Chromecast Ultra once cost.

The previous 4K media player from Google was released four years ago – it might seem that the company even decided to abandon this type of device. This year, it finally released the successor to the Chromecast Ultra, the name of which will “spoiler” the most significant difference of the new device. Now Chromecast has become a completely standalone player that does not require a smartphone to control.

Equipment

The Chromecast with Google TV comes in a small box containing a remote control, two AAA batteries, a USB cable, a power adapter, and a quick start guide. 

Designed by Chromecast with Google TV

Chromecast with Google TV is very similar to the previous model, Chromecast (3rd Gen). It is only made not around, but in an oval case with smooth edges, which involuntarily begs to be compared with a “remnant.” The case is a practical matte plastic, which does not leave fingerprints. Not that it was essential, of course – after connecting, the user will no longer need to touch it. Moreover, it will be behind the TV or receiver. Wherein there will be no way to see him in a normal situation. The player is available in three colors – white (Snow), blue (Sky), and pink (Sunrise). The first version was in our editorial office.

The new model has become a little larger, but it is still a very compact player (71x61x12.5 mm, excluding the cable), which will easily fit into any, even the most confined space. The HDMI cable is not removable, a little over 5 cm long (without a connector). On the opposite side is a USB Type-C power connector. On the backside (if you consider the front one where the company logo is located), you can see an activity indicator and a reset button to factory settings.

Unlike Chromecast Ultra, which had an Ethernet port in the power supply, Chromecast with Google TV comes with a regular power supply unit without this connector. The new player can only connect to a local network via Wi-Fi; however, a power supply with a network connector is available as an additional $ 20 accessory (in this case, the total cost of the player is $ 70, i.e., the same as the Chromecast Ultra once cost).

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Remote control

The remote is small and fits perfectly in hand. At the top, there is a 4-position “pad” in the form of a ring with a confirmation button inside, below – the “back” and “home” buttons, calling Google Assistant, Mute, launching YouTube and Netflix clients, turning on player and a button for switching to another video input of the TV. It will be useful if you also have another device connected to your TV, for example, a game console, and you regularly switch between it and the media player.

The volume control is on the side edge to the right, just above the Google Assistant call; this is not the best solution for ergonomics. It is equally inconvenient to use it regardless of which hand you are used to holding the remote control. You can choose what volume the remote control will adjust in the system settings – the “Chromecast” itself, TV speakers, or an AV receiver.

One more note about the overall ergonomics – the case is almost perfectly symmetrical. It is straightforward to take it upside down in the dark, mostly since the groove between the two lower buttons is easily confused by touch with the edge of the upper disc.

Hardware platform

Unlike the Chromecast Ultra, about the specifications of which Google at one time was silent, quite a lot is known about the “stuffing” of Chromecast with Google TV. The new media player is based on the Amlogic S905D3G chipset. It is a reasonably powerful chip with much in common with the S905X3 (contains 4 ARM Cortex-A55 cores operating at frequencies up to 1.9 GHz, and an ARM Mali-G31 MP2 video core at 850 MHz). 2 GB of RAM is installed. The amount of internal storage is 8 GB, of which about 4 GB is available to the user.

Of the network protocols, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz) are supported. When connected to a 5 GHz Gigabit LAN through an internal wall (at a distance of a couple of meters from the router), the throughput was about 300 Mbps in both directions.

Software

As stated at the beginning of this article, this is the first Chromecast capable of operating as a standalone device – in fact, the first genuinely full-fledged media player from Google. Recall that all the previous “chrome casts” did not have their shell and were, in fact, a kind of “receiver” for a smartphone, from which it was necessary to send content to the TV screen.

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For such an occasion, Google even renamed its shell – the interface of the new Chromecast is called Google TV. However, this is the same Android TV that we see in other media players or TVs that use this OS as a “smart shell” (only the latest at the moment, the tenth version). Outwardly, however, it differs from the usual Android TV – Google has introduced a new launcher, which, with a general similarity to the old one, has several somewhat tangible differences.

So, its main idea is “content first”, so that the application feed on the main screen, although it is at the top, is noticeably reduced, and the main space is allocated to the recommended content from the installed services. There is no longer a single client for the app store. Its content is moved to a separate tab of the top menu “Applications”, where there is a list of already installed programs, various categories of software in the Google Play Store, and a manual search in the store. Also, a separate tab is set aside for search, which offers the most common query options and searching for films by genre. The last section in this menu, “Library”, contains content purchased from Google Play and playlists that the user can create in streaming services, adding their favorite films and series.

Chromecast with Google TV: in progress

On the first launch, there is a quick setup option using the Google Home utility- for this, it is enough to scan the QR code on the TV screen, and then Chromecast will carry out the whole procedure with almost no user intervention. You can configure the player manually, but it turns out to be much more comfortable with the help of Home. Besides, this utility is still needed if you want to use Google Cast on this player. There is nothing new in terms of “casting”: the new “Chromecast” still supports streaming content from a smartphone from applications with its support, such as YouTube or Google Photos, and can also duplicate the smartphone screen, which allows you to display application content on a large screen. Not familiar with Google Cast – for example, the built-in photo gallery. You can also use the proprietary Android TV Remote Control utility for essential media player control., which duplicates the remote control’s vital functions, including voice control.

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Chromecast with Google TV (like Chromecast Ultra at one time) cannot be powered from the USB port in the TV (both standard, with a current of 0.5 A, and intended for connecting external hard drives, 1 A). In this case, the player turns on but only shows a splash screen explaining that it must be plugged into an outlet only.

Chromecast with Google TV supports 4K video playback up to 60fps, HDR support (Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10 +), and hardware decoding for Dolby Digital, DD +, and Dolby Atmos audio. The hardware platform’s performance is more than enough to play “heavy” video files from the local network. For this, you need to install a third-party video player from the Google Play Store, for example, VLC or the KODI media center. With streaming services, of course, there were also no problems. YouTube and Netflix played HDR video in 4K @ 60 without problems. In the second service, 5.1 audio in DD + was also played without questions. The interface works smoothly and smoothly, no jerks or jerks in the animation of scrolling through lists, no delays in reaction to pressing buttons on the remote control, launching applications like Spotify, YouTube, or Netflix takes a couple of seconds.

If desired, you can install applications on Chromecast with Google TV, bypassing the branded store, from apk files. To do this, you need to enable “developer mode” – enter the Settings – System – About menu and click on the Android TV OS Build item until it turns on. Then, install a file manager with support for cloud services, for example, X-plore File Manager, and allow him to install applications from unknown sources (Settings – Privacy – Security & Restrictions – Unknown Sources).

Conclusion: Should you buy Google Chromecast 4K with Google TV?

Google finally did the right thing by transforming Chromecast from a “Google Cast receiver” into a full-fledged media player on Android TV, sorry, Google TV. The player has a fast and user-friendly interface, support for all significant licensed streaming services, adequate performance, Google Assistant voice search – the list of advantages goes on. At the same time, it costs less than Chromecast Ultra once cost. 

Specifications of Google Chromecast 4K with Google TV

FEATURESGoogle Chromecast 4K with Google TV Snow GA01919
A typeChromecast
CPU
RAM
Storage device
Slot for HDD installation
Card reader
TV tuner
Microphone
Camera
Operating systemAndroid TV
High definition video support3840×2160 (4K)
IPTV
OTT
3D support
Built-in torrent
Support for internet servicesNetflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Google Play
Web browser
Blu-ray disc image playback
Remote control+
Smartphone control
Keyboard and mouse support
OthersGoogle Assistant
Wi-Fi802.11ac (2.4Ghz, 5 Ghz)
Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps)
Gigabit Ethernet (1 Gbps)
Miracast
WiDi
Bluetooth+
DLNA
AirPlay
USB1 x USB Type-C (Power Only)
e-SATA
HDMI+
HDMI 2.0
Composite
Component
SCART
S-Video
OthersIR port
Analog stereo
Analog multichannel
Digital optical
Digital coaxial
Headphone out
Dimensions, mm162x61x12.5
Weight, kg0.055
EquipmentMedia player, power supply, remote control, 2xAAA batteries, manual
Additionally

Google Chromecast 4K with Google TV

8.5
Design 8.3
Features 8.5
Value for Money 8.8

Pros

  • Performance
  • Convenient and responsive interface
  • Google Assistant
  • HDR 4K @ 60 support

Cons

  • Inability to connect to USB ports on the TV

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