Chromecast with Google TV (HD) review: The new king of streaming devices

Easily the best for most people.

Chromecast with Google TV HD review hero 21x9
(Image: © Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

The Chromecast with Google TV (HD) might leave you scratching your head a bit if you try to figure out why it took Google so long to release a non-4K version of its streaming dongle. But now that it's here, you would be hard-pressed to find a better solution, even if you have to deal with the lack of onboard storage.

Pros

  • +

    Uses the same remote as the 4K iteration

  • +

    Fantastic for almost any scenario

  • +

    Runs Android 12 out of the box

  • +

    Includes HDR support

Cons

  • -

    Limited storage space

  • -

    1080p-only might be frustrating for some

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You'll have to forgive us for being a bit surprised at Google's decision to release the Chromecast with Google TV (HD). It's been over two years since the original Chromecast with Google TV was released, which replaced the aging Chromecast Ultra for your 4K streaming needs.

More than two years later, Google TV has slowly made its way into the best 4K TVs, giving you access to all of your favorite streaming services, and cloud gaming services (RIP Stadia). And considering that the original iteration is our pick for the best Android TV box, this begs the question, where does the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) fit?

Chromecast with Google TV (HD): Price and availability

Everything that comes in the box with the Chromecast with Google TV HD

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

The Chromecast with Google TV (HD) was introduced in September 2022, two years following the launch of the 4K version. Unlike its counterpart, the HD version is only available in one color (Snow) and retails for about $30. 

With that, you'll get the Chromecast dongle itself, a USB-C to USB-A cable, an accompanying charging brick, and Google's excellent remote. If you're interested in picking one of these up for yourself, it's now available at pretty much every online retailer and brick-and-mortar store you could imagine.

Chromecast with Google TV (HD): What you'll like

Chromecast with Google TV HD with Android figures on table

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Out of the box, the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) already has a leg up on the one that came before it. Instead of shipping a new device with an outdated operating system, this new Chromecast comes with Android 12 onboard. In mid-October, Google leveled the playing field a bit by finally bringing the latest update to the 4K iteration, but it was still a bit odd to have the new software available on the new entry-level model first.

If you've used any of the best Android TVs released in the past year or two, then you'll find yourself right at home. The Chromecast with Google TV (HD) brings the same great experience, and you can get started simply by plugging it into an open HDMI port on your TV. Of course, you'll also need to either use the included power adapter or plug the USB-C to USB-A cable into a USB port on your TV. Just make sure it can deliver enough power, or you might experience a few hiccups.

Going through the initial setup process has been made a little easier thanks to the new "Quick connect" option. Instead of manually entering your Wi-Fi network's long and complicated password (at least it should be), you can just point a phone connected to the same network at a QR code that appears on the screen. From there, it'll just be a few moments before you can finish setting everything up for the first time.

Chromecast with Google TV HD screensaver

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Perhaps the most exciting thing about this new streaming device is that Google includes the same great remote that was first introduced with the Chromecast with Google TV (4K). This includes having quick access buttons for YouTube and Netflix, along with a dedicated Google Assistant button and even volume controls on the side.

There's really not too much to point out about the interface that you already haven't seen yourself. It's the same great Google TV that we've come to know and love over the past few years, complete with multiple profiles, and still being able to cast from your phone to whatever TV you're using.

Chromecast with Google TV (HD): What you won't

TikTok pre-installed on Chromecast with Google TV HD

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

The most obvious omission when looking at the entire Chromecast with Google TV (HD) package is the lack of 4K support. Obviously, if you're considering this or one of the best streaming devices, you'll know whether you want (or need) a dongle capable of 4K streaming.

And while it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, Google also decided to cut any Dolby Vision support from its latest Chromecast. On the bright side, you will find HDR10, HDR 10+, and even Dolby Atmos support (via HDMI passthrough). However, make sure you know which Chromecast with Google TV you're actually picking up, otherwise, you might be disappointed when you get home and get things plugged in.

Chromecast with Google TV HD resolution settings

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

While I absolutely adore the included remote, which will also likely work seamlessly to control your TV, I do wish Google would make a slight tweak. With the plethora of streaming services out there, I would have liked to see the Netflix shortcut button replaced with a customizable one. I'm sure there are workarounds to this, but I would much prefer Google to let us do it from the built-in Settings app instead.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I was pretty shocked to see TikTok pre-installed on the Chromecast with Google TV (HD). Maybe there's some undocumented partnership between Google and TikTok. But when you have a streaming device that's already hurting when it comes to storage, pre-installing apps doesn't make much sense. Yes, you can uninstall the app manually, but at the very least, a screen during the setup process asking whether we wanted to have it installed or not would have been enough.

Chromecast with Google TV (HD): The competition

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max with Alexa Voice Remote leaning on desk

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

The Chromecast with Google TV (HD) is facing some pretty stiff competition, even when compared to other Android TV and Google TV devices. Google's most obvious competitor here is the Fire TV Stick, which is $10 more expensive and is also "limited" to HD content. But I would argue that despite the various ads that Amazon constantly throws in your face, the Fire TV still feels like a more mature platform in some regards.

From there, if you look within the realm of Android TV devices, you can't ignore the .onn Android TV 4K Streaming Device. The name is somehow even more awkward than Google's latest Chromecast, but for just $20, you're also able to stream all the 4K content you want. The remote is arguably a bit better too, as there are a total of four shortcut buttons in addition to all of the TV controls you'll need and a dedicated Google Assistant button.

We would also be remiss if we didn't point out the Roku Express, which was updated earlier this year. While it doesn't hang off the back of your TV's HDMI port, there's an HDMI cable included in the box. Plus, it provides the same Roku experience that you would find on the company's more expensive streaming solutions.

Chromecast with Google TV (HD): Should you buy it?

Chromecast with Google TV HD angled view leaning on Stadia controller

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

You should buy this if:

  • You want Google TV on the cheap.
  • You want to add smarts to a non-smart TV.
  • You want a streaming dongle for traveling.
  • You don't care about 4K streaming.

You shouldn't buy this if:

  • You want to host content directly on the Chromecast.
  • You are worried about storage constraints.
  • You want to be able to stream in 4K.

Although I feel as though Google could have, and probably should have, released the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) at least a year ago, it's nice to see another option hit the market. So what if it doesn't have 4K, chances are you might not even notice the difference, especially if you're just watching some sports or perusing YouTube. Plus, it still does everything else that the 4K version can do, right down to including the same remote and the same amount of storage.

Speaking of which, if you really want to "beef up" your streaming dongle, you can grab a USB-C hub (with power delivery), plug in external storage, and access it all from the Chromecast. But I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that Google's next streaming device is something more akin to the Fire TV Cube or NVIDIA Shield TV.

Nevertheless, if you want a cheap way to enjoy Google TV and don't care about whether you have 4K playback, the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) would be our first suggestion. And with the 2022 holiday season upon us, you'll likely be able to find it on sale, making it even more appealing.