After what feels like far too many leaks, Google has finally unveiled its new smart TV dongle.
It may carry the Chromecast name, but this device is much closer to Android TV boxes like the Nvidia Shield than the original Chromecast.
The first prominent new feature is, of course, the remote, which is something that some Chromecast users have been requesting for years. The new remote can control your Chromecast TV dongle and your television set, which ideally will make it the only remote on most people’s coffee tables.
Unlike some other smart TV box remotes, the Google version has an input switcher as well, which is great for people who like to swap from watching a TV show or a movie to gaming.
✔️ Where finding what to watch is easy.
✔️ Where you only need one watchlist.
✔️ Where your voice works with the remote.
✔️ Where everything is organized for you.#LaunchNightIn https://t.co/E75uqzpThV https://t.co/R5MCm351Bu
— It's showtime (@madebygoogle) September 30, 2020
Speaking of gaming, Google has yet to add Stadia support to this new device, but it says it’s coming at some point in the first half of next year.
The streaming stick also doesn’t appear to have an ethernet port or a forward-thinking Wi-Fi 6 connection, so it doesn’t seem like Stadia support was a big part of the thought process behind this device. However, many people have been able to sideload the game-streaming platform’s app onto older Android TVs, so that will likely work here too.
That said, Chromecast TV supports high-end video streaming like Dolby Vision and HDR10+, and it can even output Dolby Atmos and Digital Plus surround, so in terms of watching content, it covers the main formats.
Google also revamped the look of Android TV with the new Chromecast and is calling it ‘Google TV,’ which has been built on Android 10, not the recently released Android 11.
The most notable change is the design seems to fall more in line with the software UX on Google’s Pixel phones and Nest products. This is a huge leap for Google, which has had a hard time unifying all of its products with the same visual language. During a pre-brief, the company described Google TV as the next version of Android TV, but not all third-party devices are going to get it.
Some Android TV devices might get an update next year to move from Android TV to Google TV while others are only going to be able to get some, but not all, of the new Google TV features and design. Google says that by 2022, there’s only going to be Google TV so hopefully, the path to move away from Android TV-branding is an easy one.
In terms of the overall interface, there’s now an entire page called ‘For You’ focused on recommended content ranging from movies and TV to YouTube videos and apps. This page is much like many other smart TV home screens, so I’ll need to spend some time with it before passing judgment on its recommendations and overall organization.
One of the cool features to make its way into Google TV is a universal watchlist. This feature lets you search for a movie on Google Search while at work and then add it to your watchlist from your web browser. Then, when you get home, it’s waiting for you to watch.
The other three screens are for ‘Movies,’ ‘TV shows’ and ‘Your library,’ which house all of your purchased movies and shows.
MobileSyrup will have a full review of the smart TV OS and dongle in the coming weeks.
Overall the new Chromecast with Google TV is a huge upgrade over the existing Chromecast models, and Google’s new TV software design is a treat. The device will cost $69 when it launches in Canada on October 15th.
Image credit: Google
Update 01/10/2020: MobileSyrup has removed a portion of the post that mentioned the device used a USB-C to USB-C power cable. That is incorrect and it actually uses a USB-C to USB-A cable like most devices so it should be able to get power from your TV if you so wish. However, Google mentions that some auto-on features might not work this way.