There are WAY too many options when it comes to streaming video devices for your TV. It’s easy to suffer decision paralysis when trying to decide between Chromecast, AppleTV, Roku, WebOS and others. Google now adding a new option to that mix that may end up being the best option of them all. I took the new Chromecast with Google TV for a test.
The hardware is simple. Super simple. The “dongle” is small enough and light enough that it’ll just hang from your HDMI port on the back of your TV. Unfortunately in my testing none of my TV’s usb ports had enough power for the Google TV. I had to use the included AC adapter to get enough juice for the Google TV to boot up properly. Once you get it running, setup is as easy as it gets. Use your phone to connect the device to your network and setup your Google login.
The remote is a cute little guy. It’s pretty small, very rounded and fits into the palm of your hand. Don’t let this simplicity fool you, it feels like a well thought out remote control. The buttons are big enough and the volume rocker on the side (like a smartphone) make perfect sense.
It controls the Google TV box and can also control your TV. What you won’t find on this little remote is dedicated fast forward or rewind buttons. You can use the directional pad for that or even use Google assistant voice control – more on that in a bit. The voice button is actually raised compared to the other buttons which makes finding it easy in the dark. Hold it down, and speak your commands.
Google’s puts the Google touch on your TV
While the box and the remote are important, the on-screen interface is the secret sauce here. Google has created remote controlled streaming boxes in the past but this is the first time it has added a remote to a “Chromecast” device. They needed to get this right… and they did. The on-screen interface looks good, is simple to navigate and helps you get to your shows and movies fast. It integrates live streaming services into the menus as well. The goal is for the Google TV devices to take all of your content services and connect them together into one conhesive interface. It does that pretty well with a few spots for improvement. Overall, I really like the interface. In Google fashion you can download and add many apps but it’s also easy enough for anyone to use. Complex if you want it to be, simple if you prefer. Not an easy balance but I feel like Google did it well.
Use your voice!
One of the most powerful features of the Google TV is the voice assistant button on the remote. Hold it down and speak your command. When I said “Christmas movies on Disney Plus” it revealed a list of holiday movies I could stream on Disney plus. The menus also provide various ways for you to stream, rent and buy shows and movies. Google TV obviously offers Google’s store options but integrates your streaming services as well.
I did notice that when I searched for “Christmas movies on Netflix” instead of providing a list of movies in Google’s interface it actually took me into the Netflix app and then automatically did a search for Christmas movies. This worked… sure… but it wasn’t as clean and integrated as a search with Disney+ and other services. Hopefully this changes. I prefer the faster, cleaner results within the Google interface before I decide to click on something.
Should I get it?
Chromecast with Google TV is nearly perfect at it’s price. For $50, you won’t find a better TV streaming device. Sure, the Nvidia Shield is more powerful and a better power user box and the AppleTV offers a better experience for people who are all-in on Apple devices but for everyone else, Google TV is the best option. From the well designed remote to the simple yet powerful interface and integration with your streaming services, you simply can’t go wrong. Chromecast with Google TV is my favorite streaming device under $100.