Google Chromecast Device Review

ProsCons
  • Easy-to-use device
  • Only two models
  • Takes up minimal space
  • Can only stream via a laptop or smartphone
  • Chromecast Ultra is compatible with Stadia
  • No remote

Google Chromecast is a casting tool used to send media like apps and videos from your devices to your TV. It works by inserting Chromecast into the HDMI port of your TV, which lets you stream videos directly from your phone or laptop. But how does Google Chromecast actually work? Similar to devices with popular interfaces like Amazon Fire TV and Roku, Google Chromecast allows you to stream apps from your favorite streaming services, including Netflix and Disney+. This is particularly useful if you don’t have a smart TV.

To stream any of your apps from your mobile device to your TV, you’ll first need to make sure you’ve downloaded the right app. If you haven’t done so yet, you can find the apps you’re looking for in your device’s app store. Everything from STARZ to fuboTV must be downloaded first before you begin. This differs from Fire TV and Roku, which both come with their own interface design to house your apps. Instead, with Chromecast, you are 100% reliant on another device to stream apps from your phone to your TV. So when it comes down to it, Google Chromecast serves exclusively as a “casting” device — not to be confused with the functionality touted by the aforementioned Amazon Fire TV and Roku. If you’re someone who’s accustomed to commanding everything from your phone, tablet or laptop, you’ll feel right at home with Google Chromecast.

Now, is Google Chromecast the ultimate tool for cutting the cable TV cord? Not exactly, since it’s really just a mechanism that takes apps on your phone and casts the content you receive through that service to your TV. It gives you a simple way to enjoy music and programming from multiple streaming services through your TV.

Apps And Content On Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast works with a wide range of apps as long as they enable casting. These apps include all the major video-on-demand (VOD) services like Amazon Prime TV, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix and YouTube TV. But you’ll also be able to stream other services like CBS All Access, Crunchyroll, FilmStruck, FOX NOW, HBO NOW and Pluto TV.

There’s also a wide range of music streaming apps like Deezer, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud and YouTube Music. And if you’re into sports, Chromecast has you covered with apps from beIN Sports, CBS Sports, FOX Sports GO, Hudl, MBL.TV Premium, MLS Live, NFL Sunday Ticket and UFC.TV.

Chromecast also works with other apps — like games and social platforms. When it comes to gaming apps, you’ll find plenty of the same options you would on your computer, laptop and mobile devices. These include CastNES, GamingCast, Stadia and Twitch, along with plenty of individual game apps like Alien Invaders, Angry Birds Go!, Bomberman for Chromecast, Monopoly Here & Now and tons more. You’ll also be able to connect with your social media accounts, along with photo and video hubs. Chromecast is compatible with CloudPhoto Viewer, Facebook, PhotoCast for Chromecast, Reddit, Vimeo and YouTube. Google Chromecast works with just about any app you can download to your mobile device. So as long as the app you’re using has a casting icon next to the video, you’ll be able to stream to your TV.

Google Chromecast Costs And Plans

There are 2 Google Chromecast devices that you can choose from — the general Chromecast model that costs $35 and the premium Chromecast Ultra option priced at $69. By comparison, Roku offers 7 unique devices, including Roku Express ($29.99), Roku Express+ ($39.99), Roku Premiere ($39.99), Roku Streaming Stick+ ($49.99), Roku Streaming Stick+ HE ($59.99), Roku Ultra LT ($79.99) and Roku Ultra ($99.99).

Roku is one of the most popular operating systems on the market. It’s used by many smart TVs like Hisense, JVC, Philips, RCA, Sanyo, Sharp and TCL. The entry-level Google Chromecast is slightly less expensive than Roku Express+ and Roku Premiere. However, an extra few dollars for Roku Premiere will give you 4K and HDR capabilities.

So when it comes to Chromecast vs. Chromecast Ultra, what’s the difference? The entry-level model only delivers 1080p resolution, whereas Chromecast Ultra supports 4K and HDR color quality. Another distinction between the two models is the Ethernet port. The option available on the Chromecast Ultra provides a stronger connection to Wi-Fi.

If you like Chromecast, there are plenty of other Google products that will elevate your Google and Android experience. The Nest Mini ($49) will upgrade your sound when listening to music around the house. Or you can opt for a virtual assistant with Google Home ($99) or Google Home Max ($299), along with various indoor and outdoor Nest Cam security cameras. You can also improve your Chromecast experience with the Google Assistant app that’s free to download. In conjunction with smart speakers, like Google Home, you’ll have the capability to give voice commands. And your Google Assistant will also help you out with things other than changing channels. For instance, you can ask Google Assistant to search for and find information about everything from stock prices to the weather.

Cast Content With Your Phone

Since your smartphone is a huge part of the Google Chromecast experience, it’s good to know you’ll have the ability to stream using both Android and iOS mobile devices. If you’re someone who’s constantly on your laptop and want to cast to your TV, you can use the device to mirror your screen. You’ll be able to use your laptop as you otherwise would. Chromecast essentially lets you use your TV as a monitor. The same goes for your tablets. If you want to switch to your TV’s larger screen, it’s just a matter of selecting the casting icon next to the video you want to watch. So, for example, when you pull up the YouTube app on your phone, there’s a list of icons that populate with the playback features. Along the top is a box with a Wi-Fi impression on the lower left-hand side. That’s your casting icon. When you click on it, you’ll be prompted to select where you want to cast the video. Just select Google Chromecast to stream to your TV.

Enjoy Voice Controls With Google Assistant

Streamline your searches by uttering a few words to your Google Chromecast. As long as your Chromecast and mobile device are connected to the same network, you’ll be able to bark voice commands to your Google Assistant to find the picture, song or video you’re searching for. Fortunately, you won’t necessarily need a pricey Google Home to operate Google Assistant. Even with Apple products, as long as you have iOS 10 or higher, you’ll be able to download Google Assistant and use voice commands. And since Google Chromecast supports Apple products, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an app that doesn’t work with the device.

Use Your Phone As a Remote Control

Google Chromecast doesn’t come with a remote control like, say, Amazon Fire TV Stick, but you can use your phone directly as a remote instead. In some ways, this is useful because most people are tethered to their phone. However, to not even have the option to choose between a phone and remote control may not appeal to those who wish for a more traditional TV experience. Roku, on the other hand, gives you the option, providing both a remote app and a physical remote as well.

Can I Cut the Cable TV Cord With Google Chromecast?

With Google Chromecast, you can cast all your favorite apps directly from your phone to your TV. Even though Google Chromecast isn’t necessarily the answer if you’re searching for a complete cable TV alternative, it’s an excellent tool that can help you expand your selection of apps, videos and premium subscriptions. Think of Google Chromecast as a way to improve your TV experience. It’s a great way to enjoy content on a large screen. And on top of that, you’ll also be able to stream many other streaming apps and subscriptions while having full control with your devices.

Now, if you’re interested in Google Chromecast but don’t have any VOD subscriptions, you’re in luck. Many streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, give you 30 days to try out things out, absolutely free. And most TV alternatives like Philo and fuboTV, offer new subscribers a free seven-day trial. There are also free services, such as Pluto TV and YouTube, that work with the device. Pluto TV offers an authentic TV experience with curated channels from Viacom networks as well as CBS news and some sports.

If local news and sports are important to you, you might consider investing in one of the many HD antennas out there. With the right device, you’ll have access to regional affiliates of ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. Antenna Web is a great resource for determining what over-the-air channels (OTA) you have access to in your area.

Current as of June 2020*

Malin Curry

Article Author

Disclaimer: This article may have had additional images, links or data that was added by this site's editor.

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