Google’s 4-year-old base model Chromecast gets a major upgrade. Today, Google made that rumored Google TV pivot official, introducing the “Chromecast with Google TV (HD)”. The original $49.99 4K version of the Chromecast with Google TV was announced in 2020, and if you checkout now on the Google Store, there’s a “Screen Resolution” option for “4K” (still $49.99) or the new “HD”. ‘ version for $29.99.
So that’s a store listing with two different sizes, telling that these two devices have only minor differences. They look the same, have the same remote control and run the same software. Google TV is Google’s new version of Android TV, and it’s a major feature upgrade for Chromecast. The early versions were foolproof streaming sticks that could only receive content from a phone and had no user interface themselves. Chromecast with Google TV is a full TV operating system with a home screen, access to the Play Store, user accounts, and scrolling lists of apps, games, and content. If you’re not interested in that, Google TV still behaves the same as Chromecast when you press a Chromecast button in an app. It can still receive a media stream, turn on the TV, and start playing without having to locate the remote.
Just like the 4K version, the HD Chromecast with Google TV supports 802.11ac (aka Wi-Fi 5) and uses a USB-C connector for power delivery. Google hasn’t released a full spec sheet, but confirms that the dongle only has 1.5GB of RAM, while the 4K version has 2GB. Previous reports of this suggested that an Amlogic S805X2 SoC (12nm, four Cortex A35 cores) was used, which would give it the interesting fold of supporting Google’s new AV1 video codec, something the 4K version lacks .
It’s hard to expect this to be resolved in the cheap version, but storage space is a big issue for Chromecast with Google TV. This wants to be an Android device, but it only has 8GB of storage, which is nowhere near enough even if you don’t download apps. Updates to the bundled apps can quickly fill up the device, and users constantly struggle with full memory issues. That’s before they even touch the Play Store and allure of any third-party Android game or app. Hey Google, how about a quietly updated 4K model with more storage and AV1 support?
Google had to do this to compete with Roku, which sells a similar streaming stick, remote control, and OS setup for $30. The old Chromecast couldn’t keep up. The new HD Chromecast is now available in the Google Store.