Would you like to do more with your television? Well, the newest kid on the block, Google’s Chromecast (now with Google TV) is available in India for Rs. 6,399. Google TV is a user interface running on top of Android TV (Android TV is a smart TV operating system that is based on the Android OS), with a different look and feel. It is pre-installed on the newest Chromecast, which makes dumb TVs smart and could become the home for all your streaming apps and more.
It isn’t the first time Google has launched the Chromecast in India but it’s the first model to come with the Google TV. The Chromecast now brings a dedicated TV UI straight to your big screen. The Chromecast with Google TV is a standalone device with a Bluetooth-enabled remote control and is powered by Google Assistant.
The Chromecast includes a very good remote control, can stream 4K content (60Hz frame rate) and has support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound. The best part of the Chromecast is the unified home page, now known as Google TV. One can search and watch across different apps with relative ease. The integration of Google Assistant has also vastly improved from its predecessors.
The Chromecast directly competes with Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K Max. The big advantage for the Chromecast over the Fire TV Stick is that the interface is more intuitive, comes with no ads and delivers much better search results. If you’re deep into the YouTube ecosystem, then the Chromecast would be perfect for you and your television.
Let’s set it up
Setting up the Chromecast with Google TV is extremely easy. Just plug the stick into the HDMI port of your TV/monitor/projector, and power it up using the adapter and cable provided in the box. Thereafter, one just has to follow a few easy steps on the TV, connect with your preferred wireless network, enter your Google account details and voila. That’s it. If you don’t have an Android smartphone on hand, don’t fret because the remote control is here to take over.
One of the best remote controls in the business
Let me tell you one thing. The remote control that comes with this Chromecast is best-in-class. It’s neither too tall and nor is it hefty. It has a very comfy, in-hand feel. The icing on the cake is the clicker feature with a four-way directional pad placed in a circle. The middle of the circle has a select key. Then there are two rows of buttons at the bottom - back, Google Assistant, home, mute, YouTube & Netflix. There are also power and input (to switch to and fro from Chromecast) buttons.
There are easy-to-reach volume buttons on the right side of the device. It’s a compact and curved remote control that does the job it's tasked with doing.
By incorporating Google TV, one doesn’t have to rely on their phone, tablet or computer anymore in order to access all the apps, stream content, converse with Google Assistant and more. You can search and control the interface with the brand-new remote control.
Google TV has over 6,500 apps that include all your favourite streaming apps - YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, SonyLIV, Voot and more - music apps like Spotify, Gaana and TuneIn, lifestyle apps like Loup, health & fitness apps such a Workout At Home, cult.fit, Gymondo, business apps such as AnyDesk (for remote desktop), FX File Explorer, and many more.
The Google TV interface also features a content-centric homepage (rather than Apple TV’s app-centric homepage) and shows rows of movies and TV shows. The bar at the top features search, the ‘For You’ section, and tabs for movies and TV shows and apps.
The ‘For You’ section has movie and TV show suggestions (based on my preferences). In the ‘For You’ section I can see what’s new from my frequently used streaming apps, resume shows, and display content I might be interested in.
At times, the interface did lag, especially when switching between apps. That wasn’t enough to deter my wonderful experience with the new Chromecast. It may not be as snappy as Amazon’s Fire TV Stick interface, but it does a good job on its own.
The built-in Google Assistant also does the job without any hiccups. The feature, that one can access via a black button on the remote, is near flawless. I asked the Google Assistant several questions. From “Play NDTV on YouTube” to “What’s the weather?” and from “Open SonyLIV” to simply “No Time To Die”. The results were exactly what I had asked for.
Saying “No Time To Die” brought up a page where I could watch the latest James Bond film (it automatically told me where I could watch it, this time being on Amazon Prime Video), and its trailer, and read the description and details of the cast and crew. It also threw up similar action movies. I also asked about the latest India-West Indies T20I, which threw up the scores without a hitch.
Basically, everything you can do with the Google Assistant on your Android smartphone, you can also now do on your TV via the Chromecast device.
Last, but not least, there is also an Ambient Mode. With this mode, you can enjoy a slideshow of photos (that you’ve selected) from your Google Photos library when the Chromecast is not in use.
Verdict: Is this the streaming device to buy?
Previously, the Chromecast could only be controlled through a smartphone. With the new Chromecast with Google TV, the game has changed. Google has finally caught up with the competition, with the inclusion of a very good remote control.
The problem is that Google has priced the Chromecast with Google TV a little bit on the expensive side. At ₹6,399, it is much more pricier than the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (MRP of ₹5,999, but usually on discount at ₹4,499) and on par with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, which is priced at ₹6,499. There’s also competition from Xiaomi and realme that come in at a lesser price point but omit a lot of features. Xiaomi’s Mi Box 4K comes in at ₹3,699, while the realme 4k Smart Google TV Stick is retailing for ₹3,999.
The Google TV interface is cleaner than the rest, the remote control is great, and the performance is pretty good. There’s also ease of use that comes with the Chromecast with Google TV. One big advantage with the Google Chromecast is that you can cast apps from your smartphone. You can even mirror your Google Chrome browser tab to your TV.
One wishes Google had more competitive pricing for the Chromecast with Google TV. Pricing aside, the new Chromecast is a pretty great competitor in today’s industry. For a 4K streaming device, the Google Chromecast should be at the top of your list.
In the end, it may come down to what ecosystem you are more embedded in and which one you prefer more. If your house is full of Alexa products, then you might prefer the Fire TV Stick. If you’re a huge fan of Google Assistant, then the Chromecast with Google TV is the way to go.