Chromecast with Google TV - First Impressions

Discussion in 'Internet Streaming Services' started by techguy88, Oct 8, 2020.

  1. Oct 8, 2020 #1 of 12

    techguy88 Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2015
    I managed to get my hands on the new Chromecast with Google TV (Sky/Blue color) must say for a $49.99 device it is very good, fast and responsive. One of the best non-Shield devices I have tried. The new Google TV interface is nice and I like how it hides the "Live" tab if you don't have YouTube TV. :cool:

    The new Google TV runs on Android 10 and is a completely redesigned experience. It is very fluid and user friendly.

    1. Remote - Not too big, not too small, not too heavy - Just Right
    So I must say the new remote with Chromecast with Google TV is my second favorite remote that comes with a streaming device. (TiVo Stream 4K's remote is my top pick as I love their peanut shaped remotes.)

    If you like the length of the Apple TV Siri Remote but hate the trackpad then you would love this remote. Very nice to hold, volume rocker on the side and a dedicated mute button. The Google Assistant button looks nice but holding it in your hand it is very easy to feel which button is for Google Assistant.

    2. Google Assistant
    So just like any Android TV device that has a customized interface (like TiVo Stream 4K and AT&T TV device) the Google Assistant is tailored to the device. It can search from the most popular free, subscription and some vMVPD apps.

    A big change here is Google Assistant will take you to the show or movie page where you can see what service the program is available from. This is different from TiVo Stream 4K which will boot you into the TiVo Stream app and even how stock Android TV & the AT&T TV device works.

    3. Tabs
    So the main interface is split between "For You", "Movies", "Shows", "Live", "Apps" and "Library". For You is the default where it will show you recommendations based on what you have watched and your Continue Watching list.

    Then there are some categories below that like "Trending" and other things that will change from time to time. This is more Apple TV-esque as some will be generic and some will be personalized to you. It even has a row for YouTube based on what YouTube videos you watched and what YT channels you are subscribed to.

    The Live tab I couldn't test out as I don't have a subscription to YTTV but from videos I've seen it integrates YTTV into that tab for easy access without having to load up the app. Google has said they will expand that tab out to other services in the future.

    The Movies and Shows tabs are giving me Apple TV vibes in that content from your subscriptions plus content to rent/buy are mixed in. Again most rows will be generic from Google (similar to Apple TV app) but some are customized to you.

    4. Performance
    So the performance here is standout for its price category. Very fast and responsive. I must say it does edge out the TiVo Stream 4K here. With the TiVo Stream 4K I did experience some small pauses but with Chromecast with Google TV I didn't have any kind of pauses very fluid. My apps also loaded quicker than on TiVo Stream 4K.

    Spec wise the new Chromecast with Google TV has a slightly upgraded SoC compared to the AirTV Mini and TiVo Stream 4K.

    On paper the new Chromecast is more powerful than Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K. Roku users wanting Dolby Vision have to upgrade to the new Roku Ultra. Even those with previous versions of Roku Ultra will need to upgrade to the newer model.

    5. Apps
    The Chromecast with Google TV supports the same streaming apps that are on Android TV so you have all the major players (Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video) along with the newcomers (Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock.) The only one missing is Apple TV+.

    6. Personalization / Curation
    So you can't customize the Google TV interface like you can stock Android TV GUI. The content curation from apps (the big focus here) is similar to TiVo Stream 4K's Stream app.

    So here the Google TV interface can search and curate content from Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, CBS All Access, Disney+, HBO Max, Viki, Starz, Showtime, Epix Now, Sling TV (on demand only), Crackle and Tubi TV. It also supports rentals & purchases from Google TV (formally known as Google Play Movies & TV.)

    Just like with the TiVo Stream app, Google TV does not support TV Everywhere apps including Showtime Anytime and Epix. So if you pay for Showtime or Epix through a pay-TV provider or a channels service you can't take advantage of the integrated search & curation. :(

    HBO Max and Starz subscribers can take advantage of the integrated search & curation features. This is due to TV Everywhere & standalone subscribers using the same app. :)

    This is where the Apple TV app on Apple hardware comes out on top with its massive list of supported apps. Apple is only missing Netflix (because Netflix opts out) but every other streaming service & TV Everywhere app supports the curation features of Apple TV. Funimation just updated their app recently to support the Apple TV app.

    So this is some examples of how Google TV compares to Apple TV:

    Example #1 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood:
    • Apple TV shows HBO Max, Hulu, Crunchyroll and Funimation. (It incorrectly shows Prime Video because it recently left Prime Video and is not available for purchase.)
    • Google TV shows Netflix, Hulu & HBO Max.
    Example #2 Yellowstone:
    • Apple TV will show you listings from Peacock, Paramount Network, AT&T TV (on demand) and the option to buy the show from iTunes.
    • Google TV only show you Sling TV (on demand) and option to buy the show from Google TV.
    The reason for this is Google needs to extend the search & curation feature to the Peacock app. On Apple TV, Peacock doesn't have to wait on Apple. Peacock enables this feature on their end.

    On Android TV and Chromecast with Google if you want an all encompassing streaming hub where you can combine all your favorite shows & movies into one easy place then you will want to download the Reelgood app as that provides a more accurate & better experience.

    I can see casual consumers going for this device. I don't think Apple TV users will get it lol. I don't expect Fire TV users deep into Amazon's eco-system (i.e. Recast) getting this. Roku users wanting Dolby Vision without having to get the 2020 Roku Ultra at $100 I could see them getting this. Casual Fire TV users would also gravitate to this as well.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020
    harsh, B. Shoe and grover517 like this.
  2. Oct 8, 2020 #2 of 12

    grover517 AllStar

    Sep 29, 2007
    Great review in my opinion but I can add a few things to it from a regular user of FireTV and as a YTTV subscriber for over a year now.

    First and foremost, the Live "integration" functions of both FireTV and GoogleTV are more alike than they are different. If anyone was expecting something more because YTTV and GoogleTV are both Google entities, they may find themselves a bit disappointed. Here are a couple of things that I have found so far that do differ between the integration of YTTV with FireTV and GoogleTV.

    In FireTV, the FireTV Live guide goes out 2 weeks regardless of what their application guides contain. Whether it's YTTV, who's guide only goes out 6 hours, Philo, who's app guide goes out a week, etc., the GoogleTV live guide with YTTV is still limited to 6 hours just like the YTTV app guide is. If this is the standard for GoogleTV going forward with other providers that choose to "integrate" with GoogleTV, it could be an issue for some that either don't want to change from what they are used to or that they don't understand that Google's claim to fame is "searching" instead of "surfing". Google Assistant is a great addition for both when using YTTV within GoogleTV, but for some, it's a hard adjustment to get used to. I will be interested to see what happens when other providers opt into the GoogleTV Live integration and how GoogleTV then handles their guide info.

    Second, I think they did a pretty good job with the presentation of the GoogleTV Live guide in terms of readability as well as the amount of episode data presented, functionally, there is no difference from FireTV's Live Guide that I can see. Choosing content from the Live guide in GoogleTV still calls the YTTV app to open just like it does in FireTV and that's it. Using a back button on the remote in either, one press takes you back into the YTTV app guide, a second takes you back to the GoogleTV Live guide. From every "visual" clue, it's clearly apparent that any true "integration" between the two products simply is not the case. If their goal is to truly integrate as much as possible, something like adding the ability for one to add content to their YTTV library directly from the Live Guide akin to how one can setup recordings in the Recast DVR thru the FireTV Live Guide, would further that "visual" notion that they are indeed more tightly integrated. But right now, you still have to use the YTTV app to add/remove content from your YTTV library.

    In the Library tab, the GoogleTV UI shows you a half dozen or so tiles showing what appears to me to be the most recently added content to the YTTV library. To see your entire YTTV library content, you have to click on the tile at the end of the row that again, opens the YTTV app instead of populating the GoogleTV UI Library screen with all the YTTV library content you may have. Again, basically the same type of functions FireTV uses to see all your apps, to open the Guide, etc. Although a marginally useful option, it's more about being a shortcut to the YTTV app library section than anything else. I will be curious that if and when other providers opt into the GoogleTV Live integration features, if their Libraries/DVR's content will be treated that way as well or if this Library tab is reserved to YTTV only. If the former, it's a marginal "one up" on the FireTV Live integration method in my view since FireTV is more focused on their Recast DVR as the sole "recorded content" source instead of linking to every providers DVR's/libraries for playback.

    Two side notes: First, right now there is no way to easily "switch" YTTV profiles from the UI itself like you can in the YTTV app. I understand the YTTV/GoogleTV engineers are aware and are working to see if there is a way to bring this capability forward. So for those that have multiple family profiles, it's an issue right now.

    Second, when comparing this iteration of Chromecast to one I already had, there was a vastly different experience. I used both the YT and YTTV apps on my Galaxy Note 10 + to try and make sure I was as "compatible" as possible. With this new iteration, sometimes I get audio only, other times, nothing even though my router shows data flowing to the Chromecast as if a stream was occurring and other times, it would work as expected. At first, I thought it may be due to some carriage restrictions but further testing revealed that was not the case. Trying to cast the same channel over and over on the new Chromecast produced the same varying results across a dozen or so YTTV channels I tried. I saw none of these issues using my older Chromecast device on the same TV, same HDMI port and same network connection. YMMV.
    B. Shoe likes this.
  3. techguy88

    techguy88 Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2015
    @grover517 I did not know that about the Library tab. For me where I don't have YTTV I just see "New to your Library", "Watchlist" and "Movies". Right now New to your Library and Movies is just my Movies Anywhere redeemed titles & purchases. When playing a purchase it is very smooth like the movie is playing from the UI. I also noticed the profile issue on Chromecast with Google TV as well. I hope they do fix it.

    I tried casting the AT&T TV app and Prime Video app to the new Chromecast with Google TV. The standalone Chromecast (3rd Gen) I have handled casting AT&T TV from my iPad Pro the best. The Nvidia Shield Pro was very close to the standalone Chromecast. Chromecast with Google TV had occasional stutters in the video. I then used Prime Video and had similar results as above. I also cast the Prime Video app to the AT&T TV device/Osprey and this is the one area Opsrey seemed to have a slight edge because the movie was able to play without stuttering.

    Here is a more deeper comparison between Apple TV app running on Apple hardware vs the Google TV GUI on Chromecast with Google TV
    • Google TV takes longer to update from sources when new content is added. Apple TV is almost instant.
      • For example HBO Max added the first two Austin Powers movies on October 1.
        • Apple TV had those movies in its results almost instantly. Using Siri to find them or opening the Apple TV app then searching showed HBO Max as the first source.
        • Google TV wasn't showing those movies available in HBO Max instead trying to get me to use Sling TV (which I have turned off in settings) or purchase the Austin Powers movies to view them. By October 3 the Google TV GUI finally started to show HBO Max as the primary option.
    • Showtime/Showtime Anytime compatibility
      • Apple TV will show results for all Showtime content via Showtime (standalone app), Showtime Anytime, Showtime via Apple TV Channels and connected provider for on demand content (Hulu, Prime Video, AT&T TV). The results update instantly when Showtime adds new content.
      • Google TV GUI is a hit or miss situation. Searching for certain content (like Originals) will pull up Showtime (standalone) & Showtime Anytime. Searching for movies is like the lottery. Some movies will show Showtime/Showtime Anytime as options (i.e. Mean Girls) but newer additions (like Catch Me If You Can that was added this month) only show Sling TV & rental/purchase options.
    • Major apps missing from search results
      • Apple TV app is only missing Netflix.
      • Google TV GUI is still missing things like Peacock & CBS All Access from its unified search.
        • Worth noting that TiVo Stream 4K is missing Peacock from its unified search but supports CBS All Access.
        • Issue becomes very noticeable when you search for Originals only on an streaming service. Like searching for Love Life will show HBO Max as the only option. Searching for Brave New World or Console Wars will not show Peacock & CBS All Access respectively. You can only mark them as viewed.
    • Content only available on demand from a vMVPD or for purchase
      • Apple TV will show the option to purchase the TV Show/Movie from iTunes first with option to watch the program with a vMVPD provider (in this case AT&T TV) as the second option.
        • What is nice here is when I don't have AT&T TV Now active I can uninstall the AT&T TV app and disconnect it from the Apple TV app which stops AT&T TV from popping up in my search results.
      • Google TV is the opposite showing Sling TV as the primary way to watch the show/movie regardless if you subscribe to Sling TV or not. Options for renting or purchasing the show/movie right beside the Sling TV button.
        • No matter what I try I can't stop Sling from showing up even by uninstalling the app and turning the app off in the settings.
        • Now the TiVo Stream 4K will allow you turn Sling TV off in its settings and Sling TV's on demand content will not show up as a place to watch.
    Right now Google TV has a long way to becoming a seamless unified search. Apple TV is the best unified search option even though it is missing Netflix. The Apple TV app on Apple hardware "just works" across Apple TV HD & 4K, iPads, iPhones, etc. When using the Google TV app (formally Google Play TV & Movies) on an Android smartphone does not support the unified search option. As far as native apps go the TiVo Stream 4K is the best Android unified search option right now. I still recommend using the third-party Reelgood app on Android TV platforms as it will give you a similar experience to the Apple TV app.

    Performance wise the Chromecast with Google TV does blow the AT&T TV device out of the water. It is a tad bit faster than the TiVo Stream 4K. My Apple TV HD (4th Gen) and Apple TV 4K (5th Gen) are still faster than the Chromecast with Google TV despite their age.
    grover517 and NashGuy like this.
  4. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    Nashville, TN
    I really like my Apple TV 4K and the Apple TV app (even if there is a bit of room for improvement). I've been wanting Google to come out with their own Android TV device for years and have had my eye on this new Chromecast with Google TV. I have a house full of Google smart speakers and one smart screen and use an Android phone, so was hopeful that this new Chromecast might ultimately be a better option for me than Apple TV. But your review, as well as others I've read, leads me to believe that right now, it's just not.

    Google TV certainly has promise, and I think Google is moving in the right direction, but it really remains to be seen if Google has the ability to focus and execute in a way to nail down all the little details that are essential to a high-quality user experience in the way that Apple has done. If they can just get Hulu working with the Continue Watching playlist in the Google TV home screen (the way that HBO Max and Netflix already do), then I might get one of these for my parents to replace their old Roku. But it would appear that they have quite a bit more work to do beyond that to get it to a point where I'd find it preferable to my Apple TV 4K.
    grover517 and techguy88 like this.
  5. techguy88

    techguy88 Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2015
    The Continue Watching row does need some improvement. I just tried some Hulu content today and see what you mean. Another issue/glitch I discovered is when you watch a movie that was purchased (or a digital copy that was redeemed) the movies tend to get stuck in the Continue Watching row. Like I had both Batman (1989) and Batman Returns playing in the background while I was working today and the entire movie (credits and all) played. Now those films are stuck in my Continue Watching row as if I haven't watched them at all. :confused:

    Now I will say the Apple TV app on my Apple TV HD & 4K boxes have done this once in a while. However Apple lets you mark shows and movies that are in the "Up Next" row as watched or remove them entirely if they happen to get stuck. With Google TV I haven't found a way to remove them. Doing a long press on the select button on Google TV just gives me "Open" which starts the movie again. :( At least doing a long press with the Siri Remote on Apple TV app gives you more options. :)
  6. crkeehn

    crkeehn Godfather

    Apr 22, 2002
    Something to consider about the Chromecast with Google TV. It is just out for a couple of weeks at best. Already they have released a firmware upgrade for the device and a firmware upgrade for the remote. Google tends to respond fairly quickly to software issues and if they follow the trend with the new Chromecast I'm sure we can expect the operation to become much quicker and smoother.

    I have had the new Chromecast for a week and have found that I am using it more than the Roku 2 I have installed on the same TV. The Chromecast is really built for Youtube TV and if you do subscribe to Youtube TV, you will find a fairly seamless integration. It adds the "Live" tab which provides you with the Youtube TV guide and the first row on the For You tab are your recordings from Youtube TV. Already the Chromecast is beginning to make suggestions based on my viewing, it reminds me of when I had a DirecTivo. The new Chromecast fills a hole in the spectrum of streaming devices. It is priced as a budget device, competing with other budget devices and with the direct competition, it is showing itself to be a very capable competitor.
    NashGuy likes this.
  7. techguy88

    techguy88 Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2015
    @NashGuy I just realized HBO Max content is doing the same thing as Hulu content. Stuff on HBO Max I've started but not finished doesn't show up in the Continue Watching row.

    I have faith Google will fix the issues too. However when comparing the TiVo Stream 4K at launch and the Chromecast with Google TV again the TiVo Stream 4K is the better of the two right now. Chromecast with Google TV has a lot of potential and I personally enjoy using it and can't wait to see the improvements Google makes. (Although Apple TV will still be my primary streaming device.)

    Google does need to correct some problems like the Showtime/Showtime Anytime issue, fix HBO Max & Hulu so content you stopped part way though shows up in the Continue Watching like Netflix content does, allow people to manually mark programs that are stuck in the Continue Watching row as watched, etc.

    At launch the TiVo Stream 4K's major problem with its unified search function was the fact it only had partial HBO Max support which has since been corrected. I hope Google can quickly fix some key issues I mentioned above to put Chromecast with Google TV on par with TiVo Stream 4K.
  8. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    Nashville, TN
    Yeah, I have to do this with the Apple TV app fairly often. At least once a week (sometimes several times a week).

    This is odd, as I've read reports from others that Continue Watching works with HBO Max. But then I've read one or two reports of Continue Watching sometimes not working with Netflix too. It seems to be kind of buggy.

    Hmm, we'll see. Google's track record is kinda mixed. Given that they already had the basics of the Google TV system implemented in the old Google Play Movies & TV app for Android mobile, and given how delayed this new Chromecast was in coming out (originally intended for late spring, I think), you'd think Google would have had more of these bugs, omissions and inconsistencies worked out prior to launch. IDK, maybe some of this stuff is dependent on getting the app developers to cooperate and they needed to launch first to build public pressure for the apps to get on board.
    techguy88 likes this.
  9. b4pjoe

    b4pjoe New Member

    Nov 19, 2010
    Continue Watching on the ATV works on HBO Max for me. I've been watching The Big Bang Theory since HBO Max was released and haven't had any issues with it.
  10. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    Nashville, TN
    When you say "on the ATV," are you talking about on an Apple TV box? Because techguy88 and I were referring to HBO Max not working with the Continue Watching feature on the new Chromecast with Google TV.
  11. b4pjoe

    b4pjoe New Member

    Nov 19, 2010
    Yes. Sorry. I thought you talking about Continue Watching on the ATV.
  12. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    Nashville, TN
    Yeah, that feature on Apple TV is great and works with just about every app except Netflix. (Although sometimes it does fail to accurately reflect that I've completed an episode and I have to manually mark it watched.)

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