Even before the pandemic, I spent an unhealthy amount of time with my TV. Between using it for music streaming while I cook, bingeing the latest anime after work, and just re-watching old favorites as I mull over which accessories to add to a collection, my TV is on the majority of the day, and it serves up all my content via Chromecast with Google TV.
There's plenty of competition in the best streaming devices space these days: even before Google made its splash with the Chromecast with Google TV back in October, Amazon's Fire TV sticks and Roku had been fiercely battling to be the TV platform of choice in households around the country (and around the world). In contrast, the last new Apple TV before today was released all the way back in 2017 with the first Apple TV 4K, and the Apple TV HD is from 2015.
Chromecast with Google TV isn't a perfect device — I've written about its bugs and the Google Hardware curse in recent months — but there are three reasons that it's going to win over multitudes more users than the new Apple TV 4K. The first and foremost reason is the most obvious: Apple is asking you to seriously overpay for your streaming experience.
In 2017, it wasn't unheard of to pay $200 for a streaming device that supported 4K, HDR, and the various specs surrounding it. We were still in the infancy of 4K streaming, and getting the hardware to support these new specs took time, effort, and money. Just like the 2017 NVIDIA Shield TV, the first Apple TV 4K cost charged $200, but in the years since, manufacturers have figured out how to minimize both the size and the cost of 4K-capable streaming devices.
Apple's pricing strategy is trapped in 2016.
In 2018, the Roku Premiere offered up 4K streaming for only $40, and the same year Amazon debuted its first Fire TV 4K Stick at $50. So even before Google came along with the Chromecast with Google TV, finding a quality streaming stick for under $100 hasn't been difficult, but Apple's gonna Apple.
In fact, Apple intends to keep selling the 2015 Apple TV with its fancy new remote for $150, three times more than both Amazon and Google's 4K sticks. That alone would be openly scorned if it came from anyone other than Cupertino's favorite son, but even $179-$199 for the new 2021 Apple TV 4K is too high to really compete in the space, regardless of the fancy new jogging gesture or holding your iPhone up to the screen to calibrate it.
Apple TV doesn't have a monopoly on Apple content anymore.
A year ago, these absurd prices might've flown when Apple TV+ was brand new and only available on the Apple TV, but Apple TV+ is everywhere now, and Apple TV 4K simply won't compete in this space if it's not willing to meet buyers at the price point that they and the market expect. Even NVIDIA accepted that it needed to bring down prices with the 2019 NVIDIA Shield TV.
Another important distinction is that Apple isn't the only streaming stick that will aggregate your services and content on the home screen anymore. Google TV does the exact same thing — albeit with fewer services so far — and Google actually goes a step further by better offering up trending content and better-curating collections of suggested content based on what you've watched and what you've rated in Google TV's matrix.
Yes, there are up to five shows shown at the very top of Google TV that are ads, but once you click down to your apps and content, they go away quickly enough.
And, of course, there's the practicality of buying a Chromecast over an Apple TV with AirPlay. Now, don't get me wrong, AirPlay is fine if you live in a house that is 110% Apple with all iPhones and all Mac computers, but if you live in anything less, you're better off with a Chromecast than an Apple TV because Chromecast is more cross-platform compatible than AirPlay. There's also the still unbeaten truth that Google Assistant is more accurate and consistent than Siri, which is important when we're putting voice search and voice commands front and center with each remote.
The practicality also comes back to the prices again: I can buy a Chromecast with Google TV for every TV in my parents' house — plus a spare remote in that uber-pretty blue — and still have money left over movie rentals and popcorn.
The most reasonable part of Apple's Apple TV announcements today was that they're going to sell that swanky new remote separately for current Apple TV owners. Even then, you're paying $60 for the new Siri remote, which is more than the $20 Google TV remote and $30 Fire TV remote combined.
So Apple can keep that stupid sexy new jogging gesture for fast-forwarding through bad subplots and the automatic calibration that probably won't work well on most TVs. When they're ready to really make a play for the living room, the $50-$100 space will eagerly await more reasonable offerings while we watch Ted Lasso on our Google TV again.
Winning the living room
Chromecast with Google TV
With the overhauled Google TV interface, all of the app support we've come to know and love from Android TV, and the cutest little remote this side of the couch, the Chromecast with Google TV is not only the best Chromecast you can buy today, but it's also the best one Google's ever made.
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