The new Chromecast with Google TV HD is one of the best streaming devices out there that delivers a speedy upgrade to your old 1080p TV.
The difference between the Chromecast HD and its predecessor from 2020 boils down to price and picture resolution. I had previously picked the Chromecast with Google TV that supports Ultra High Definition or UHD as the best media streaming device for the money.
After testing out the Chromecast HD, I am just as enthusiastic with Google’s follow-up streaming device as I am about its slightly older 4K sibling.
The Chromecast HD tops out at 1080p picture resolution, but also supports High Dynamic Range formats. It is priced at $29.99 not only to compete with entry-level streamers from Roku and Amazon. It arrived as inflation has hit home entertainment budgets.
The secondary TV in the family room that was about to be replaced suddenly isn’t looking so bad. Chances are, the older, outdated Smart TV platform is what got you thinking of shopping around.
Table of Contents
- How I tested Chromecast with Google TV HD
- Design of Chromecast HD
- Chromecast with Google TV specs
- Chromecast with Google TV interface and menus
- Google Chromecast Remote
- How to Connect Google Chromecast HD to an HDTV
- Speed test results: How fast is Chromecast HD?
- Where to buy a Chromecast HD: Price and availability
- Chromecast with Google TV HD FAQ
How I tested Chromecast with Google TV HD
With that in mind, I tested the Chromecast with Google TV HD on a 15 year old Samsung TV in my garage that has 1080p picture resolution.
The Chromecast connected to my home network over Wi-Fi. There are no inputs for Ethernet on the Chromecast. I then measured how quickly five popular apps launched from the Chromecast’s main menu. I compared those results with the similarly priced Roku Express 4K+, an Amazon Fire TV Streaming Stick 4K and Walmart Onn 4K streaming device. (See a breakdown of the results below under the “Speed test” section.)
Streaming sticks, in general, are marketed for non-Smart TVs with an HDMI port, and to update older Smart TVs in need of refreshed software. So I did the same speed test on a 2017 TCL Roku TV (model: 55S405) to compare the speed of Chromecast HD to an older Smart TV.
The Chromecast is running on Android TV OS 12. I did three rounds of launching apps for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Sling TV and Disney+.
The same 2007 Samsung non-Smart TV was used for testing the speed on all the streaming devices. Using a stopwatch on my smartphone, I timed how many seconds it took for each streaming device to launch an app. I stopped the watch once the homepage or profile page to the streaming app was fully loaded.
The takeaway is that the Google Chromecast HD is, without question, going to deliver faster performance for older Smart TVs and non-Smart TVs, and give you updated universal remote.
The Chromecast remote easily paired with my 2007 Samsung TV and controlled the TV power, volume control and mute function.
Google TV debuted as a TV platform in 2020 on the Google Chromecast with Google TV (4K model). Since then, Google TV has been the Smart TV platform of choice for Sony Bravia Smart TVs along with Smart TVs from Hisense, Phillips and TCL.
Design of Chromecast HD
The design of the Chromecast HD is identical to the Chromecast 4K. It’s a dongle-style device that plugs into the HDMI port on the back of a TV.
The entire length of the device is 6.4 inches long, but streamer itself is like an oblong coin that’s three inches long and about two and a half inches wide. If you were to put the Chromecast HD next to the Chromecast 4K, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. The same goes for the remote controls.
The Chromecast is powered by a USB-C cable and a power adapter. The HDMI plug on the end of the Chromecast can be added to any HDMI port on a TV.
Chromecast with Google TV specs
The aim of the Chromecast HD is to refresh the software your old TV runs on.
The term HD, short for High Definition picture resolution, doesn’t tell the whole story with the Chromecast HD’s specs. Sure, the Chromecast supports up to 1080p at 60 frames per second (fps).
The Chromecast HD supports video formats of HDR, HDR10, and HLG2. So if you subscribe to streaming services that include HDR formats, you will notice greater color depth. Your TV will need to support those formats as well.
There has already been plenty written about how HDR is more important than 4K. The human eye can notice contrast and color much easier than resolution.
The Chromecast HD doesn’t have 4K resolution or Dolby Vision. But if you have a TV that supports those formats, you could buy the Chromecast 4K model for $49.99.
For audio formats, the Chromecast HD supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Atmos via HDMI passthrough. Just like with the original Chromecast, you can cast from scores of compatible iOS and Android apps from a smartphone or tablet to your TV. You can cast from a laptop or PC.
Being able to cast from your phone to a TV can be pretty handy when you want to share some videos or photos with family or a large group of friends.
The Chromecast with Google TV HD is running on Android 12, which is the latest version of software. My Chromecast 4K that I bought in 2020 is currently running Android 10 with a security patch added from May 1, 2022.
The Chromecast HD can connect to both bands of a dual Wi-Fi network. That means you can have it connect to the 5GHz or 2.4 GHz, depending on the distance from your router or mesh network. The Chromecast has 8GB of storage, but only 4.4GB is available for adding apps. And there is no option for adding storage, so choose your streaming apps wisely.
Chromecast with Google TV interface and menus
Google TV draws apps from the Google Play Store, so all your major streaming services including Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV Plus, Amazon Prime Video and ESPN Plus are available with thousands of others.
On the top of the main menu, there are tabs for Search, For You, Live, Movies, Shows, Apps and Library. Subscribers to YouTube TV, Sling TV or Philo will be able to see their channel lineup under the Live tab.
To start getting the most out of recommendations, you need to scroll down to the bottom of the home screen and click on the “Manage services” tab to add streaming services to your recommendations.
Google TV is aiming to give individual recommendations for everyone in a household. Each person can have their own user profiles by adding their Google account to the Chromecast. The upshot? You can have your own watchlist of movies, TV shows and get customized recommendations that are in large part based on your streaming subscriptions.
Parents can create kids profiles, which let you choose which apps children can use, screen time limits and bedtime reminders.
The more you use Chromecast, the more its recommendation engine will figure out whether you are a fan of a specific genre or actor.
The “Top Picks for You” queue is the first section you will see under the home screen. My current picks on Chromecast include a few recommendations coming from Sling TV followed by mysteries and thrillers from Hulu, Prime Video and Tubi TV.
Below those recommendations are a lineup of streaming apps such as Netflix and HBO Max that you can put in any order you like. There is a Continue Watching tab so you can easily jump back into a TV show or movie that you stopped before it ended.
Google TV’s approach to streaming is completely opposite to a Roku menu, which is known for its grid of apps. Amazon Fire TV has updated its menus within the last year, which shows more recommendations from a number of apps. But movies and shows from Prime Video and its other service Freevee are still at the forefront of Fire TV’s recommendations.
Google Chromecast Remote
The remote control included with the Chromecast functions as a universal remote that controls your TV power and volume.
Two AAA batteries included in the box is a small touch that really makes the overall value proposition of this Google device stand out.
The remote adds premium features to your old TV such as voice commands with Google Assistant, and universal search of movies and TV shows from all your streaming subscriptions.
The remote is palm-sized, and has the typical navigation wheel at the top to help you traverse menus of streaming apps and movie thumbnails. The volume rocker is on the upper right side of the remote. It is located where your thumb would naturally rest if you held the remote in your fingers or palm.
There is a mute button, and dedicated launch buttons for Netflix and YouTube.
Google Assistant allows you to do more than just find something to watch. You can control playback of videos, get local weather reports and sports scores.
You can use Google Assistant to get an idea when live sports such as MLB or NBA games will be on TV. By pressing the Assistant button and asking, “When is the next baseball game?”, I got a screen outlining all games happening in the next 24 or so hours. My only gripe is that there was no information about what TV channel these games were on.
Chromecast with Google TV Search and Voice commands
The power of Google search within the Chromecast is pretty evident once you start hunting for specific genres, directors or actors.
The Google Assistant button adds voice commands. So you can easily see what movies starring Brad Pitt are available on your streaming subscriptions and whether his latest movie, “Bullet Train” is available to rent. (It is.)
Among all the streaming hardware that I currently own, I have been using Google TV the most since purchasing a Sony Bravia OLED TV last year.
Roku may win the day with its easy-to-understand grid of apps. But I think Google TV is closer to what most consumers new to the streaming world actually want. A homepage that pulls together recommendations from multiple services onto one screen is the future of streaming.
But Google TV wisely reserves the option to peruse a queue of streaming apps on the homepage. And the live TV tab lets you see what is available to watch on YouTube TV or Sling TV without having to launch their respective apps.
How to Connect Google Chromecast HD to an HDTV
During the setup process for Chromecast, I chose to use the Google Home app on my smartphone because it’s a faster setup process with fewer steps. (You don’t need to enter any passwords using your remote control.)
The Google Home app nimbly paired the remote control to my old TV without having to go through a battery of audio and visual tests.
If you don’t have, or want to use the Google Home app, you have the option of just using the remote control. You will be required to undergo some extra steps, but I found it to be pretty straightforward.
The television I used to review the Google Chromecast HD is a 2007 Samsung capable of 1080p picture resolution. It still delivers a crisp picture, but its last software update was ages ago. The TV was designed for an era when hooking up a Blu Ray player gave you the optimal movie experience. Just about any HD-capable TV should work with Chromecast as long as you have an HDMI port on the TV and a nearby electrical outlet.
Speed test results: How fast is Chromecast HD?
It should be noted that I tested and compared the speeds of an HD streaming device (the Chromecast HD) with three 4K streaming devices, which likely have greater processing power. (The Roku Express 4K+ and Fire TV Stick 4K and onn 4K streaming box were chosen because that’s what I had around the house at the time of these tests.)
I did not perform any benchmarks against processors running these streaming devices.
Walmart’s onn streaming 4K device has some of the fastest speeds for launching these five popular apps compared to Roku Express 4K+ and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise because it operates on an Amlogic S905Y2, a very similar processor used for the Chromecast 4K.
If you were not looking at a stopwatch, it’s unlikely you would notice the difference in time. The Chromecast was 1.68 seconds faster loading Disney+ than the onn 4K streaming box. The onn 4K was 2.15 seconds faster loading HBO Max, and 4.66 seconds faster loading Prime Video. The bigger differences came with loading Netflix and Sling TV, which is reflected in the chart below.
Roku Express 4K+ won out with speed in three out of the five instances versus Chromecast HD, but not with any remarkable margin.
For example, the Express 4K+ was .64 seconds faster at launching the Prime Video app. Likewise, the Chromecast was 1.53 seconds faster with launching HBO Max, and 7.02 seconds faster at launching Disney+ than the Express 4K+.
The Express 4K+ was faster with launching Netflix by 19.18 seconds.
The Chromecast HD outperformed the Amazon Fire Stick 4K with three out of the five apps. It loaded HBO Max 12.04 seconds faster, Disney+ 3.99 seconds faster, and Sling TV 1.71 seconds faster. But again, Chromecast HD was slower to load Netflix by 14.25 seconds.
Based on my testing, Google Chromecast HD should be purchased for older Smart TVs, non-Smart TVs that support 1080p resolution, and even monitors with an HDMI port.
|Chromecast HD||Roku Express 4K+||Fire TV Stick 4K||onn 4K||TLC Roku TV|
The Google Chromecast HD is a next-gen streamer that gives a huge boost to your last-gen TV.
The remote control for the Chromecast HD paired with Google TV basically gives you one of the best experiences for streaming and live TV under one menu.
If you have an older HD television that you love, but is on the sluggish side in terms of performance, the Chromecast HD provides a significant upgrade while keeping affordability in mind.
Roku and Amazon may sell more streaming devices in the U.S. than Google’s Chromecast. But Chromecast HD is miles ahead in terms of how it presents shows, movies and live TV on its home screen.
|Upgrades old HD TVs|
|Universal remote control|
|Supports casting apps|
|HDR, HDR10 and 60fps|
|No 4K streaming|
|No Ethernet port|
|Netflix launch sluggish*|
Where to buy a Chromecast HD: Price and availability
You can buy the Google Chromecast online or at a number of retailers. Here a few online options to save you a trip to the store.
Chromecast with Google TV HD FAQ
Here are some other questions and topics customers ask when considering whether to buy a Chromecast with Google TV HD.
Will Google Chromecast work with my TV?
Any older TV or monitor, regardless of brand, with an HDMI port should work with Chromecast with Google TV HD. That includes older Smart TVs or Roku TVs. Google recommends having a reliable broadband internet connection, a Google account, and a nearby electrical outlet to power the Chromecast.
For casting and the setup process, you need a compatible mobile device, such as an Android phone or tablet with Android 8.0 or higher. The minimum OS requirements for Apple’s iPhone or iPads are iOS 14.0 or later.
Can I use the Google TV app on my smartphone with Chromecast HD?
Yes. The official Google TV app for mobile gives you a backup option for controlling Google Chromecast HD or Google Chromecast 4K. It includes a virtual keyboard, which is a better option for entering usernames and passwords for individual apps such as Netflix and Hulu.
Does Chromecast with Google TV have the Google Play Store?
Yes. Both the Chromecast with Google TV HD and the 4K Chromecast use the Google Play Store to supply apps. Google TV shows multiple options for renting or buying movies and TV shows directly from its menus.
Is Google TV free with Chromecast?
Yes. Google TV is simply the software hub that operates the Chromecast. There is no fee or subscription required to use a Chromecast with Google TV.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble