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Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD) review: Cheap, simple and brilliant

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Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD)
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Quick verdict: If you don't need 4K and have an older TV that could be smartened up, the Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD) is a great and affordable streaming dongle.


  • Google TV interface covers all major services
  • Remote control is pleasant to use
  • Integrated TV control

  • Some cheaper TVs may not be covered for integrated control
  • No 4K or Dolby Vision
  • Shorter plug could be a problem for some TVs

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Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD) review

Google's Chromecast with Google TV remains one of my favourite simple smart TV streaming devices.

It doesn't matter if your TV maker has stopped supporting your smart TV platform or if it never actually had a smart TV service in the first place. Just pop in a Chromecast with Google TV and you're good to go at up to 4K HDR for just $99.

But what if you have an even older TV that won't do 4K or you don't want to pay for 4K capable services?

That's where the new model Chromecast with Google TV HD comes into play. It's just $59 outright. And with a few concessions to the pricier model, it's a great and simple way to make any TV considerably smarter.

Design: At this price, you don't get colour choices

Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD) review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Externally, there's not a whole lot to pick between the original 4K model and this newer HD-capable variant if you're talking about the actual device.

The Chromecast with Google TV HD is a white puck-like dongle that measures 162.5x61x12.5 millimetres and weighs 55 grams, which is exactly the same as the 4K model.

One end houses an HDMI plug while the other has a USB-C socket to connect to an included power supply. Again, this is exactly the same set-up as the original 4K model.

The remote control that comes with the Chromecast with Google TV HD is a small white device, measuring 122x38x18 millimetres at 63 grams. It's the same again as the 4K variant.

I could see a scenario where if you had both for TVs in different rooms, it could get interesting telling them apart.

So how do you tell the newer, cheaper, HD-only Chromecast with Google TV HD from its predecessor? One way would be colour. The original Chromecast with Google TV 4K can be bought in "Sky" or "Sunrise" or "Snow" finishes.

If you're thinking someone at Google's colour naming department's been sniffing too much glue again, I'd agree; those are actually names for Blue, Pink or White finishes.

The Chromecast with Google TV HD only comes in the white "Snow" finish, so if your remote or Chromecast is even the slightest bit pink or blue, it's the 4K model.

Performance: Great for enhancing old TVs – or for travel

Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD) review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Set-up of the Chromecast with Google TV HD is a straightforward affair, but as I found with the original model, it can take a while as you sign into services and download their relevant apps.

The Chromecast with Google TV HD won't install every possible streaming app and you will have to go through their own verification systems as well before you're fully set up.

Back when I reviewed the original 4K-capable Chromecast with Google TV, it was missing a few key streaming services of interest to Australian viewers, most notably Foxtel and Apple TV Plus.

Both of those are now present and correct, as are apps for all the major Australian free-to-air services and a wide array of more niche viewing content platforms.

The actual user interface is, as you'd expect, identical to that of the 4K model, with a slick appearance and generally good response whether you're using the remote or the integrated Google Assistant voice controls.

Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD) review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

I don't personally love voice-controlled TV content, but it does work, with the slight catch that if you don't have a Google Assistant speaker in the same room, you've got to talk directly to the remote control. That will never not feel weird.

The Chromecast with Google TV HD is, as the name suggests, capable of only up to HD quality output, which does mean it's best paired with a TV that can only stretch that far in quality terms. I tested it in 2 locations with HD-capable TVs; a Bauhn model in my home and an essentially unknowable TV in a motel room in regional NSW.

Seriously, I've never seen a less-labelled TV in my life, with no insignia, no brand on the remote control, nothing. But I digress. The reason I was testing remotely was because of a sudden travel plan that also allowed me to test out the Chromecast with Google TV HD's chops as a travel-friendly streaming solution. The range of TV stations (and broadcast quality) in my motel was absolutely terrible, but the supplied Wi-Fi wasn't.

Here I did hit 2 small problems with the Chromecast with Google TV HD that hits particularly hard if you're travelling.

Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD) review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The cable from the Chromecast with Google TV HD to its HDMI plug is short and getting to the back of the wall-mounted TV wasn't an easy task. For a free-standing TV, this wouldn't be an issue, but if you have gone for wall-mounting, it's worth bearing in mind.

The other issue was power. Luckily for me, the TV's power was nearby with a secondary socket, so I could plug it in at the cost of a little cable clutter. If the power sockets are a long way from the TV, you will need an extension cable – which is probably something you don't travel with.

Once set up, I could quickly go from blotchy digital nonsense to my choice of Netflix, Disney Plus, Foxtel, Apple TV Plus, Stan or Amazon Prime Video content on call. One additional nice touch here is that the Chromecast with Google TV HD, like its 4K counterpart, is Bluetooth-capable for audio.

Where this helps if you're travelling into accommodation with thin walls is you can pair up a decent set of Bluetooth headphones – I used the Google Pixel Buds Pro because they were in my bag – and skip the TV audio entirely if you want to watch movies without sharing them with the world.

As a bonus, this also blocks out your neighbour's immediate nocturnal activities at the same time. Yes, I'm being coy here, which is to say that binge-watching Ted Lasso episodes did help save my sanity on a recent trip, and that's all I'll say about that.

Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD) review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The Chromecast with Google TV HD supports HDMI-CEC, which means that in theory, you can use it to control compatible TVs for audio and power purposes.

I say in theory because neither tested TV panel was on Google's list of supported brands and the set-up routine involves picking your TV brand first. Although given I could never properly identify the brand in my motel, I would never have been able to make that one work anyway.

If you do plug the Chromecast with Google TV HD into a 4K TV, you will get worse picture quality than if you use the 4K model, even allowing for upscaling. That's a very linear relationship that matches up well with your TV's capabilities.

The obvious competitor and comparison device in this space are Amazon's Fire TV stick devices, which similarly offer HD and 4K versions at the same price points.

For the intended HD audience, there's not too much in it for most major streaming platforms. I could totally see the Amazon version winning your heart if you've got other Alexa-capable devices in your home.

However, the Chromecast with Google TV HD's remote is a little less finicky to use in my estimation. Most reliable figures also suggest that there are more Google Assistant-capable smart homes in Australia than Alexa ones right now.

Should you buy the Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD)?

  • Buy it if you don't need the 4K features of the pricier model.
  • Don't buy it if you need 4K output.

The Chromecast with Google TV HD is a relatively affordable and easy-to-use streaming system ideally suited for making older 1080p-only TVs into far more capable smart platforms.

If you've got a 4K capable panel – and if you're paying the premium for 4K streaming content and a broadband plan to match – then there's not much point in opting for this model. Spend the extra $40 and you'll get a much better picture out of the Chromecast with Google TV 4K.

However, if your TV or streaming services don't stretch that far anyway, the Chromecast with Google TV HD is a great device.

Pricing and availability

The Chromecast with Google TV HD retails in Australia for $59.



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How we tested

Google Australia sent me the Chromecast with Google TV HD for review. I tested it on 2 TVs connected over Wi-Fi with a range of streaming services; a cheap and older Bauhn TV and a TV in a motel room because a streaming dongle this size just screams out to be tested while travelling. I also tested its ability to output to a 4K TV on a Sony Bravia 4K model with mixed results; there's a definite benefit to getting the 4K model if you have a 4K TV.

The reviewer has more than 2 decades of tech product reviewing under his belt and is a multi-time Australian IT Journo award winner, including awards for best reviewer and best technical journalist.

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