Google’s Chromecast was a bit of a game changer when it was first released in 2013. Although it lacked an interface and required a smartphone to work it was very popular due to its low cost of entry – it sold for about a third of what other TV boxes cost at the time.
Today there are many super low cost TV devices that have much greater functionality which is why it looks like Google is phasing out its single purpose Chromecast device in favor of a more robust Android based platform called Google TV. Last year they released a Google TV for 4k televisions and now they have an HD only version priced competitively versus similar offerings from Roku and Amazon.
While it retains the casting features from the original Chromecast it adds the Google TV functionality which allows for the installation of apps and games. It also works as a Google Assistant allowing for voice control of home automation devices.
Performance-wise it’s about the same as the Google TV 4k edition they released last year but costs a lot less. Google limits the video output on the HD model to 1080p only but it otherwise retains all of the features of the more expensive version including its support of Atmos surround sound.
Google TV is an enhancement of Android TV found on many smart televisions and set top boxes. Those enhancements come in the way of recommendations based on your personal preferences and a watch list feature to organize content across many different providers.
The only shortfall with its recommendation and watch list feature is that it’s not quite universal. While Netflix has a button on the remote and is pre-installed on the Chromecast when it first boots up, you can’t actually add Netflix content to the watchlist nor will it include any Netflix content in its recommendations.
But for the price it’s a solid offering especially if you’re tied into the Google Home ecosystem. Android TV’s app ecosystem is substantial and you’ll find some of the games you may own on your smartphone will also appear in your app library on the Chromecast.