Retro computing with a touch of modern and the home for all things, retroCombs (aka Steven Combs).

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11 October 2020

OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE: Chromecast with Google TV (and the Google TV Android app)

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.

During Google’s 2020 “Launch Night In” event, the Chromecast with Google TV was announced. Not a surprise, not much is anymore; however, even when the whispers of this device echoed in the halls of the Internet, I was intrigued. Prior to this purchase of this device, I owned the two following Android TV devices:

  1. nVidia Sheld TV (#ad)
  2. mi Box S (#ad)

I enjoy both Android TV devices and use them along with two Roku devices and an Apple TV. I’ve always considered Android TV to be just a step below both Apple TV and Roku for several combined reasons including:

  1. User interface complexity
  2. Content discoverability
  3. Channel/App selection
  4. Cost

Would the new Chromecast with Google TV change my mind? Let’s find out after we watch my lunchtime OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE video posted to my YouTube Channel the evening after the device’s arrival.

YouTube Video: OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE: Chromecast with Google TV (and the Google TV Android app

Watch the video below and then read on for my additional thoughts on this device. In the video, you will see me open the box, connect, fire up, and use the device for the first time. I also take a look at the new Google TV app that works along side the Chromecast with Google TV.

Final Thoughts

I’ve used this device for two days. As with most of my reviews, here’s the list of things that strikes me:

  1. User Interface: I love the new interface. I’m hopeful this new interface will come to my mi Box and nVidia Shield; however, I tend to think that Google is going to keep this user interface to themselves to sell more hardware. Time will tell.
  2. Performance: The Chromecast with Google TV is fast and responsive. It is amazing how much tech we can cram it to small form factors these days.
  3. Remote: As I state in the video, I really like the remote and much more than the remotes provided with either the mi Box or the nVidia Shield. It sits in the hand nicely, doesn’t feel cheap and looks great. It’s a bit slippery, so be careful. I wish you could modify the Netflix button to another application but in all actuality, not sure I ever would. We use this service too much. HINT: A search online will reveal a hack that allows a Netflix button reconfiguration. That was fast!
  4. Content Discovery: One word, amazing! So much better than any other device I own. This is the power of Google built-in with the Assistant.
  5. Live guide: Needs work. While I appreciate it includes YouTube TV, it should also include Xumo and Pluto TV with the ability to modify the lineup to get rid of those pesky channels I have not interest in watching.
  6. Chromecast Design: I’m still torn on the puck design. It’s okay. But then again, who cares? You don’t see it when it’s hanging off an HDMI port on the back of the television.
  7. Updates: I’m anxious to see how frequently Google TV receives updates. Android TV and Roku seem to get two or three updates a year. If Google follows their Chrome OS and Android pattern, we could see monthly updates pushed to add features, correct bugs, and ensure security.
  8. Groups: I like that I can add to my Chromecast to a music group in the home. Currently, it works when you stream to it; however, I can’t get the content from the Chromecast to stream to other devices. I’ve also had the Chromecast get out of sync with other audio in the home. I’m sure that’s just a glitch that will get worked out in future updates.
  9. Multi-tasking: Unlike Android TV, multi-tasking is non-existent in Google TV. That’s a shame, because it is not possible to jump back to a previous app easily.
  10. Google TV Application (Android): The new application is a step up from Google Play Movies and TV which always had an awkward name and user interface. This new app more closely mimics and syncs with the Google TV. I like when on the go I can search for content, add it to my watch list, and then find it waiting when I arrive home. Perfect for those times when someone makes a recommendation and you don’t want to forget it.

Have Questions?

Drop your questions about the Chromecast below or in the comments section at YouTube. Happy to provide answers and read your thoughts.

Pixel Power Podcast

If you like this video and describe yourself as a Google Fanboy (person/girl/etc.), be sure to check out my podcast, the Pixel Power Podcast. Monthly (sometimes more often), I focus on a topic that allows you to get the most out of your Pixel and Google powered devices such as Android, Chrome OS, Google Assistant, and Google Workspace (formerly G-Suite) with an emphasis on Pixel devices such as the Pixel phone, Pixelbook, Pixel Slate, Pixel Buds, and other Google Assistant powered devices like this new Chromecast with Google TV. Check out the podcast and be sure to follow the podcast on Twitter.