Chromecast with Google TV vs. Apple TV 4K: Which should you buy?
Chromecast with Google TV
Chromecast with Google TV undercuts most "deluxe" streaming dongles by offering the same 4K, HDR, and Dolby capabilities but at a much lower price. With Google TV, you can access most (non-Apple) content, and Google fights that "nothing to watch" energy by placing show recommendations from all of your downloaded apps front and center.
Chromecast with Google TV
Premium specs, budget cost
Apple TV 4K
In exchange for a higher price, Apple TV 4K gives you faster menus, more local storage space for frequently watched content, a dedicated Gigabit Ethernet port, and easy access to Apple devices and services like HomeKit cams, iOS apps and more.
Apple TV 4K
For Apple lovers and live TV
Comparing the latest Chromecast vs. Apple TV dongles, you really must consider which of the tech giants you rely on most frequently. Both devices mirror one another in supported audio and video formats, offer most of the major streaming platforms, and bundle with remotes with built-in voice commands. They differ in compatibility with each other's tech, smart homes, and gaming platforms — all based on differences between Google vs. Apple. We'll break down how those differences affect which streaming dongle you should purchase.
Chromecast vs. Apple TV: Specs breakdown
Chromecast with Google TV is priced as a bargain streaming device with high-class specs; Apple prices its Apple TV 4K as a premium device. Despite this, they closely match each other in several categories, although Apple does justify the higher price somewhat with improved processing power, storage, and connectivity.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Chromecast with Google TV||Apple TV 4K|
|Processor||Quad Core A53 1.8 GHz||A10X Fusion chip (2.38 GHz, 6-core)|
|Resolution||4K HDR||4K HDR|
|Video formats||Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+||Dolby Vision, HDR10|
|Audio formats||Dolby Atmos, DTS, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+||Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+|
|Ports||HDMI (connect to TV), USB-C (power)||HDMI (connect to TV), Ethernet port, power slot|
|Wireless||802.11ac (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz)||802.11ac (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz) with MIMO|
|Ethernet||$20 for 10/100 Mbps Ethernet accessory||1 Gbps ethernet port|
|Bluetooth||Only for enabling remote control||Yes, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Storage||8GB||32GB or 64GB|
|Smart home compatibility||Built-in Google Assistant||AirPlay, HomeKit|
|Gaming||Android TV apps, Stadia compatibility in 2021||Apple Arcade, iOS games|
|Size||6.4" x 2.4" x 0.5", 1.9 oz (55 g)||3.9" x 3.9" x 1.4", 15oz (425g)|
|Colors||Snow, Sunrise, Sky||Black|
Apple uses the same chip for its 2017 iPad Pros as Apple TV 4K, which gives it solid speeds when loading or navigating through content. Google's ARM Cortex-A53 has been used for a variety of devices, from the Fire HD 10 to the Nintendo Switch. Both will serve your purposes, but the extra cores and GHz give Apple the edge.
Both devices have the wireless chops to stream high-end content, but if you need a more consistent connection, Apple TV 4K has an ethernet port with up to 1Gbps connectivity. Chromecast with Google TV, with its more compact design, only has an HDMI output and USB-C power input. Still, you can buy a $20 Ethernet Adapter that both powers your Chromecast with Google TV and supports up to 100 Mbps speeds — enough to handle 4K in most cases. Apple TV 4K buyers will need to buy their own ethernet adapter, and more frustratingly, their own HDMI cord to connect to the TV.
Chromecast with Google TV has 8GB of internal storage, while you can purchase Apple TV with either 32GB or 64GB. Apple stores recently used content, recently snapped photos from iCloud and the like on your device then removes it automatically as new content comes in or space runs low. Where Chromecast with Google TV can beat Apple TV is in expandable storage, as you can attach a USB-C hub to it that lets you charge it while simultaneously adding a USB-C thumb drive or external storage. Using a hub undermines the new Chromecast's sleek, minimalist design, but gives you more versatility for what you can do with it.
Chromecast vs. Apple TV: Google TV versus Apple TV
Google TV is a new interface built on Android TV, as this guide explains. You get access to thousands of free Android apps, but also an improved search and recommendation system that helps you find content without having to search each app one by one. Google TV studies your viewing history via machine learning and presents a range of recommendations designed to appeal to your interests, or lets you search for content and indicates where you can watch something for free, rent it or buy it.
Apple TV operates off of the same infrastructure you'll find on any Apple TV app, with a more app-focused interface. Recently Apple released tvOS 14, which added new useful features like Picture-in-Picture, HomeKit integration, and, ironically, 4K YouTube. Just as Google TV prioritizes Google TV purchases, Apple prioritizes purchases from its services, as well as Apple+ TV shows.
Both devices support most major channels, but Apple TV 4K supports YouTube TV and the YouTube app, while the one major app Google TV doesn't support is Apple TV. HOWEVER, Apple TV 4K stands apart from Chromecast with Google TV by essentially acting as a cable box. Whether you get Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, AT&T TV, Sling TV, or Charter Spectrum, all of these services work on Apple TV 4K. Chromecast with Google TV supports some of these, but its Live TV tab only shows YouTube TV content.
Chromecast vs. Apple TV: Features and remotes
We're here to compare Chromecast vs. Apple TV, not judge whether Google's OS or Apple's OS is better than the other. So we'll simply point out how these devices are well-integrated into their tech ecosystems.
Along with Apple TV exclusives and purchases, you can also access Apple Arcade games, use Apple TV-compatible iOS games, play Apple Music, or see personal iCloud content on your device. If you own HomeKit-compatible security cameras from companies like Arlo and Eufy, you can pull up the feeds in Apple TV. With AirPods, you can listen to content on Apple TV while keeping your actual TV muted.
Similarly, Chromecast with Google TV lets you watch purchased Google TV content, view Nest Cam security camera footage, see your Google Photos as screensavers and easily navigate through content with Google Assistant, which is built into the remote and can be accessed with the touch of a button. And, of course, you can always cast content to your Chromecast at any time, to go with all of the streamable content.
Apple TV 4K lets you navigate using a built-in Siri button on the remote, or mirror app content on the TV via AirPlay 2. You cannot cast iOS apps, only from web browsers on iOS devices, so Apple users will find Apple TV 4K more convenient. At the same time, owners of the best Android phones can't use AirPlay at all.
Chromecast vs. Apple TV: Which should you buy?
Apple TV 4K is one of the best Chromecast alternatives you can find, particularly for Apple fans that frequently buy their pricey products, users of live TV apps, or Apple Arcade, and people who need a fast ethernet connection.
Chromecast with Google TV sells at a price most people can easily afford, uses advanced metrics to prioritize the shows you want across thousands of free Android TV apps, and will (eventually) work with AAA Stadia games and most Bluetooth controllers. In contrast, Apple Arcade and iOS apps will always have a more mobile-focused design.
Unless you want to stick with Apple products, we feel that Chromecast with Google TV remains the better option, though the decision is tighter than most of our device battles. Google has proven that you don't need to pay top dollar for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos content, and you should take advantage of the discounted rate. Plus, we'll always rate Google Assistant as a better voice control option than Siri.
Premium specs, budget cost
Simple built-in voice navigation
Chromecast offers 4K video, access to Google Assistant, and casting at a low price point. Google TV is a great addition that bundles streaming and casting into one device, so you no longer need to take up multiple HDMI slots on your TV just to do both.
For Apple lovers and live TV
For your iEverything devices
Apple TV 4K will cost you more, but owners of other Apple devices won't find a better option for mirroring them on your TV screen short of buying an Apple TV. The streaming platform offers high-end specs, and even access to Google apps like YouTube TV if you don't want to miss out on either.
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Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.