Want to do more with your TV? Well, the newest kid on the block, Google’s Chromecast (now with Google TV) is available in India for Rs. 6399. Google TV is a user interface that runs on top of Android TV (Android TV is a smart TV operating system based on Android OS), with a different look and feel. It comes preinstalled with the latest Chromecast, which makes dumb TVs smart and can become the home for all your streaming apps and more.
This is not the first time that Google has launched a Chromecast in India but it is the first model to come with Google TV. Chromecast now offers a customized TV user interface right on your big screen. Chromecast with Google TV is a standalone device with a Bluetooth-enabled remote control and powered by Google Assistant.
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The Chromecast has a very good remote, can stream 4K content (at 60Hz frame rate) and supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound. The best part about Chromecast is the unified home page, now known as Google TV. One can search and watch across different apps with relative ease. Google Assistant integration has definitely improved over its predecessors.
The Chromecast competes directly with Amazon’s Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max. The big advantage of Chromecast over Fire TV Stick is that the interface is more intuitive, contains no ads and offers much better search results. If you are deep into the YouTube ecosystem, Chromecast will be perfect for you and your TV.
Let’s set it up
Setting up Chromecast with Google TV is very easy. Simply plug the stick into the HDMI port of your TV/Monitor/Projector, and turn it on using the adapter and cable provided in the box. Then, one just has to follow some easy steps on the TV, connect to your preferred wireless network, enter your Google account details and voila. This is it. If you don’t have an Android smartphone, don’t worry because the remote is here to take over.
One of the best remote controls in the business
Let me tell you one thing. The remote that comes with the Chromecast is the best in its class. It is neither very long nor huge. It has a very comfortable feel in the hand. The icing on the cake is a tap feature with a four-way directional plate placed in a circle. In the middle of the circuit there is a selector switch. Then there are two rows of buttons at the bottom – Back, Google Assistant, Home, Mute, YouTube and Netflix. There are also power and input buttons (to switch to and from Chromecast).
Easy-to-access volume buttons are located on the right side of the device. It’s a compact, curved remote control that does the job at hand.
With Google TV integration, one won’t have to rely on a phone, tablet or computer anymore in order to access all the apps, stream content, talk to Google Assistant and more. You can search and control the interface with the all-new remote control.
Google TV has over 6,500 apps that include all your favorite streaming apps – YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Disney + Hotstar, SonyLIV, Voot and more – music apps like Spotify, Gaana and TuneIn, lifestyle apps like Loup, and health and fitness apps like Workout in Home, Cult.fit, Gimondo, Business applications like AnyDesk (for remote desktop), FX File Explorer, and many more.
The Google TV interface also features a content-centric homepage (instead of the Apple TV app-centric homepage) that displays rows of movies and TV shows. The ribbon at the top features a search feature, a For You section, and tabs for movies, TV shows, and apps.
The built-in Google Assistant also does the job without any hiccups. The feature, which can be accessed via a black button on the remote control, is almost impeccable.
The For You section contains suggestions for movies and TV shows (based on my preferences). In the For You section I can see what’s new from the most used streaming apps, resume shows, and view content that might interest me.
Sometimes the interface lags, especially when switching between apps. That wasn’t enough to deter my great experience with the new Chromecast. It might not be as fast 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, which can be accessed via a black button on the remote control, is almost impeccable. I asked Google Assistant several questions. From “Play NDTV on YouTube” to “What’s the weather like?” And from “Unlock SonyLIV” to “No time to die”. The results were exactly what I asked for.
“No Time to Die” featured a page where I could watch the latest James Bond movie (it automatically tells me where to watch it, this time on Amazon Prime Video) and its trailer, reading descriptions and details of the cast and crew. He also released similar action films. I also asked about the latest Indo-West Indies T20I, which delivered results without a hitch.
Basically, everything you can do with the Google Assistant on your Android smartphone, you can now do on your TV via Chromecast.
Last but not least, there is also the Ambient Mode. With this mode, you can enjoy a slideshow of photos (that you selected) from your Google Photos library when your Chromecast is not in use.
Verdict: Is this the streaming device to buy?
Previously, 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 the Google TV a bit on the expensive side. in R6399, it is much more expensive than the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (MRP of R5,999, but usually at a discount at a price R4,499) and on par with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, at a price R6499. There is also competition from Xiaomi and realme that come at a lower price but omit a lot of features. Xiaomi Mi Box 4K comes in R3,699, while the realme 4k Smart Google TV Stick is retailing R3,999.
The interface of Google TV is cleaner than the rest, the remote control is great, and the performance is very good. There’s also ease of use that comes with Chromecast with Google TV. One of the big advantages of Google Chromecast is that you can cast apps from your smartphone. You can also mirror the Google Chrome browser tab on the TV.
One wishes Google had more competitive pricing for Chromecast with Google TV. Regardless of the prices, the new Chromecast is a great contender in today’s industry. For a 4K streaming device, Google Chromecast should be at the top of your list.
In the end, it may come down to which ecosystem you are more part of and which one you prefer the most. If your home is filled with Alexa products, you might prefer the Fire TV Stick. If you’re a big fan of the Google Assistant, Chromecast with Google TV is the way to go.
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