Up until now,streaming device has been nothing more than a device that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV, and controlled using various streaming apps on your phone, tablet, or computer.
Google on Wednesday announced the Chromecast with Google TV, the latest addition to the Chromecast lineup. Although, the new version doesn't use the same approach as previous releases.
For starters, the new Chromecast comes with a remote that you, or anyone else in your household, can use to control the device. Gone are the days of starting a stream for a family member.
The remote includes a dedicated Google Assistant button, along with the standard buttons you'd expect, and shortcuts to launch Netflix or YouTube.
And, of course, now that there's a remote and you no longer rely on the apps on your phone to control what you're watching, the Chromecast needs a new interface. Enter: Google TV.
You can order the new Chromecast now directly from Google for $50. It comes in three colors, but does that really matter since it goes behind your TV never to be seen again?
The new interface allows you to install apps directly on the Chromecast, browse suggestions, and if you subscribe to YouTube TV, view a live TV feed of everything currently playing, and what's playing next. Google is working on adding more partners to the live TV section of Google TV. But, for now, you'll have to subscribe to YouTube TV in order to use it. In fact, the Live tab doesn't even show up unless you have an active subscription.
Google is currently evaluating which Android TV devices will receive an update to include Google TV over the next year, and you can expect all new devices starting in 2022 will use Google TV. It's a slow rollout, but we'll also begin to see more new devices with the new look starting next year.
The Chromecast with Google TV streams in 4K HDR, with support for Dolby Vision. It still plugs into an open HDMI port on your TV and comes with a power adapter
I've been testing the new Chromecast for a couple of days now, and it's exactly what I've always wished for the Chromecast. As a family of five, the idea of having a dedicated phone or tablet, or constantly fielding requests from family members to put a different show on the TV, wasn't something I wanted to do. Amazon's Fire TV, Roku streaming boxes, and Apple TV are designed for multiple users, whereas Chromecast always felt as if it was meant for a single person.
Google TV looks and feels a lot like Amazon's Fire TV layout, only slightly better designed and more appealing. Getting around it is simple and straightforward, and I'm yet to notice any lag or performance issues when navigating or starting a stream.
I'll need some more time to test Chromecast with Google TV before passing a final verdict, but so far, I'm impressed.