Google has launched an entry-level streaming device. The new Chromecast with Google TV HD goes on sale Friday at all major retailers. The new device retains all of the look and functionality of Google’s original Chromecast with Google TV, but instead of offering 4K streaming, the HD model is capped at 1080p, at 60 frames per second.
At $30, it’s also the cheapest streaming device that comes with a remote capable of offering full TV controls. Roku’s new $30 Express and Amazon’s $30 Fire TV Stick Lite both lack TV volume and power buttons on their remotes.
The Chromecast with Google TV HD retains key features of its more expensive sibling, such as the baked-in access to Google Assistant via the voice remote, the ability to cast pictures and videos from Google Photos, and take Google Meet video calls from your phone to your TV. It maintains a similar remote and plug-and-play design, with Google noting the hardware is made with 49% recycled plastic.
Like the 4K version, it can stream all the apps you would expect such as Netflix, YouTube, HBO Max, Disney Plus and Prime Video as well as tap into Google’s Play Store. The HD Chromecast similarly can play “casted” videos from a phone, tablet or Chrome browser, just like the original Chromecast that Google released nearly a decade ago.
As for HDR, the new device supports HDR 10 and HDR 10 Plus. The HD Chromecast will launch with Android 12, a slight edge compared with the 4K model. Google promises to bring Android 12 to the Chromecast with Google TV 4K but has yet to reveal a timeline of when that might occur.
Beyond design and software, the Chromecast with Google TV HD also has its 4K sibling’s gaming features. It includes support for Bluetooth accessories such as controllers and can play games from Google’s Stadia platform and from apps downloaded off the Google Play Store.
Sadly, the Chromecast with Google TV HD comes in only one color: a white hue that Google dubs “snow.” Those looking for the pretty pink “sunrise” or blue “sky” colors will have to upgrade to the newly renamed $50 Chromecast with Google TV 4K. Beyond the new name, Google says it isn’t changing any of the hardware or features of that model that was released in 2020 and will remain on sale.
With the release of an HD streaming device, Google now joins rivals Roku and Amazon Fire TV in fighting for the share of the entry-level market. The Roku Express, Fire TV Stick Lite and Chromecast with Google TV HD all offer basic high-definition streaming capabilities at 1080p for the price of $30.
However, the new Chromecast with Google TV HD’s remote could help it stand out from the pack. The included clicker is identical to the one found in the Chromecast with Google TV 4K, meaning that it has a built-in microphone for controlling the Google Assistant as well as the aforementioned ability to control the power and volume of your TV. While the Fire TV Lite remote does have a mic for summoning Alexa, neither it nor the Roku Express allows you to control the TV with buttons on your streaming device’s remote.
We look forward to reviewing this device to see where it stacks against the competition.