I’ve been searching for the perfect streaming device for a very long time. I tend to avoid Roku because I’m not the biggest fan of its interface, and I thumbed my nose up at Amazon’s Fire TV devices for their oversaturation of ads and lack of real support for Google services, like YouTube.
Given the last point, it’s perhaps no surprise I’ve picked up the new Chromecast with Google TV to handle streaming duties in my new apartment.
I’ve liked Chromecast in the past for its simplicity and widespread support of any app with a cast button. I watch a lot of auto racing, and the simple fact is that many of the various motorsport series’ apps are either missing from most streaming hardware — especially devices like the PS4 and Apple TV — or are terrible to use, on account of rarely being updated.
The Chromecast has always circumvented this dilemma, however, by simply allowing you to use your phone. If there’s an app for it, you’re almost certain to be able to cast it, and that makes it a snap to watch what you want, whenever you want.
The downside to the Chromecast model thus far has of course been the lack of a remote or real interface. This hasn’t bothered me for the most part, because again, it’s Chromecast’s value in tapping into existing Android and iOS apps that has endeared me to the platform, and I actually find using my phone to launch and control content to be a more streamlined user experience than picking up a remote. However, I understand that folks like their remotes, and so I’d typically hear the complaints when I’d have guests over.
Why I love the new Chromecast
You can probably see where I’m going with this. I was initially intrigued by the idea of the new Chromecast with Google TV because it really does cover all the bases. There’s casting, just like before. All the apps I already cast from work just the same way on the new devices as they ever have. But there’s also an interface — a smart-looking one, at that — and a remote to navigate it, with the Google Assistant in tow for voice commands.
Toss in 4K streaming (not terribly important to me because I still lack a 4K TV, but nonetheless valuable) and the Chromecast with Google TV seems like the perfect streaming device for my needs.
Naturally, I picked one up the day it was announced — the Sunset orangey-pink version, because I’m a sucker for Google’s bold-yet-tasteful color choices — and I’ve been using it for about a month now. Fortunately, I can say that it really has made good on my hopes and expectations. Aside from one small issue, I really do think this is the perfect streaming device for anyone who liked the Chromecasts of old, but wants something a little more refined, with a remote.
Speaking of that remote, I think it too is wonderfully designed. I love that it offers the ability to pair with your TV for basic functions like power on and off, volume and input switching. I also love that it has Netflix and YouTube buttons right there, amidst everything else. Of course, whether or not you think it’s worth it to allot prime real estate to those apps largely depends on whether you use them often; since I do use Netflix and YouTube a lot, though, the remote is geared well for me.
But what about that lone issue I have with the new Chromecast? Unfortunately, it relates to performance. Now, it’s not crippling or deal-breaking by any measure, and whatever snags the system hits when I’m navigating between menus never lasts long. But there is some lag, particularly when waking the device after it’s been dormant and trying to load the home screen, and it can be a little annoying.
In fairness, these slight lapses in responsiveness may have also been true of previous Chromecast models, but because they never had a series of menus to trudge through, you probably never would have noticed them. It’s also slightly frustrating that the new Chromecast can’t draw power from the USB port on your TV — it really needs the full-on USB-C adapter it comes with.
Overall, though, I’m extremely satisfied with my new Chromecast. For $49, this little dongle really checks every box I could reasonably ask it to, and looks good doing it, from the aesthetic of the actual hardware itself to Google TV’s interface design. If you’ve been disappointed by the various options from the likes of Amazon, Roku and even Google itself over the years, I implore you to check it out.