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Google Chromecast Review 2020

Google Chromecast is a no-frills device, but it’s hard to argue with its easy setup and low price.

Chromecast avg. rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5)

(Weighted score of hundreds of users and tech editors)


PriceKey feature #1Key feature #2
$35.00Cast favorite apps to your preferred screenGoogle Home integrationVIEW ON AMAZON

First take: Is Google Chromecast the best streaming device?

Google Chromecast is an excellent choice for streaming on a budget—so many options, so little dimes. Setup is a snap, and there are tons of compatible apps, so you should be covered no matter your tastes.

Unlike other devices, the Google chromecast is based around casting instead of streaming. The differences are simple but important: other devices let you pick an app or channel stored on the device and enjoy whatever is on. Casting essentially lets you take media being played on a phone, tablet, or PC and transport it (the technical term being “cast”) to another screen.

So it’s more of an almost-streaming device than a full-fledged set-top box. But the Chromecast is a customizable alternative to more expensive options like Apple TV and Roku. It’s especially useful for Google and Android fans who already have a second device to cast media from.

Google Chromecast vs. the competition

Chromecast offers a lot of bang for your buck, but you can’t have it all.

ProductPriceFeature 1Feature 2Feature 3
Google Chromecast (3rd Gen)$35.00Stream from your devices to your TVTons of compatible apps, display mirroring for the restVoice control and Google Home integrationView on Amazon
Google Chromecast Ultra$69.00Stream from your devices to your TV4K Ultra HD video, HDR support and Ethernet portVoice control and Google Home integrationView on Amazon
Fire TV Stick$39.00Plenty of apps and games with expandable storageBluetooth audio compatibilityRemote control with Alexa voiceView on Amazon
Roku Streaming Stick$49.00The Roku Channel and lots of other appsControl through Roku mobile app for private listeningRoku remote with Alexa and Google Assistant compatibilityView on Amazon
Apple TV$179.00Heaps of apps and content through the Apple App StoreSeamless iTunes integrationSiri remote with voice searchView on Amazon

Data effective as of 11/07/2019

Check out our guide to the best streaming devices to see how Chromecast measures up to its set-top box rivals.

If you’re a hardcore cinephile, a 4K video addict, or condemned to slow Wi-Fi hell, you’ll probably want to skip the basic Chromecast and head for Chromecast Ultra, Apple TV, or one of the ritzier Roku models. The same goes for people just dying for a device with its own remote.

But Chromecast is a great option if you simply want to add flexibility to how and where you do your binge-watching.

Compared with Apple TV or Roku, Chromecast’s lack of user interface might make new cord-cutters feel unwelcome. But for those of us who have been expanding our personal media libraries for years and just want a simpler way to connect, Chromecast’s minimalism is just enough to feel comfy.

Google Chromecast deals and promotions

Wait, you want Chromecast to be even cheaper? We haven’t found any promos yet, but check back here and we’ll let you know if we run into any sick deals.

What is Google Chromecast?

Unlike other devices, Chromecast isn’t a one-stop shop. It has no preloaded apps or games, and no dedicated remote control. Instead, it piggybacks on the rest of your devices to let you put your favorite content on your preferred screen.

Chromecast is more of an extension to your media life than a brand new device. If you already have a preferred suite of streaming apps, Chromecast is your ticket to using them in a new way. I effortlessly had Comedy Central, Crunchyroll, Netflix, Prime Video, and Podcast Addict all up and running within the first ten minutes of use.

It minimizes the transition time from one device to another, so you can shift from doing the dishes to relaxing with minimal interruption to your favorite podcast, album, show, or movie. If your favorite app isn’t working, you can always link up with your PC through the display mirroring feature.

Look-wise, the Chromecast dongle has a smaller diameter than a can of soda. Its sleek profile means you won’t even notice it unless your TV is set up in the middle of the room (and that’s horrible feng shui). The attached HDMI cable is only a little over four inches long, so the dongle won’t tangle when you let it dangle.

It also comes in black and white, so you can fully embrace the aesthetic of your preferred side of the force.

Google Chromecast specs

  • Price: $35.
  • Size: 2.04 in. length x 2.04. in height
  • Video: Up to 1080pAudio: 2.0 stereo; compatible with Google Nest and Home smart speakers
  • Storage: N/A
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
  • Compatible Operating Systems: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac

You’ll find 4K video and HDR are reserved for the pricier Chromecast Ultra, as is compatibility with Google’s Stadia gaming service. But the Ultra also costs $69 instead of the basic model’s $35. You’ll have to decide if the extra resolution is worth it to you. Also keep in mind that the Chromecast is all about working with what you got on other devices, so don’t expect onboard storage when you dangle this dongle.

Google Chromecast setup

Chromecast’s initial setup is a breeze:

  1. Crack open the box, power it up using the included micro USB cable and adaptor, and connect Chromecast to your TV’s HDMI port.
  2. Download the Google Home app to your phone, find your Chromecast using the Devices button, and wait for the device to connect.
  3. Confirm your internet connection and load up your favorite streaming app. After about five minutes, you’ll be ready to dive headfirst into streaming bliss.

But what if your cat has stolen your phone (again)? Don’t panic, just grab your tablet or any computer with a Chrome browser and start casting from there.

You can also give your Chromecast a custom label, making it easy for you to move between different rooms and devices, especially if you have multiple Chromecast units (at only $35 a pop, you can set your whole house up on the cheap).

Included equipment:

  • Google Chromecast (3rd Gen) dongle
  • Micro USB cable
  • AC power adaptor

You can have Chromecast up and running in a matter of minutes.

Chromecast doesn’t have a Micro-SD slot for expandable memory, but you won’t miss it since all of your content will be casting from other devices. The basic model is also missing an Ethernet port and a USB output option.

Here’s another important note: to get Bluetooth audio from your Chromecast, you’ll need either one of Google’s smart speakers or a (relatively inexpensive) Bluetooth stereo adaptor.

Or you can just pay the price for waking up your family with your late night streaming adventures. It’s your decision.

Equipment you’ll need:

  • TV with an HDMI port
  • Phone or computer
  • Wi-Fi network
  • HDMI to USB converter (optional)
  • Bluetooth stereo transmitter (optional)

Google Chromecast apps

Chromecast features a huge number of compatible apps and services, especially for Android users. It also has display mirroring for any apps with glitchy connectivity.

Chromecast streams only what you cast to it, so you’ll have to search for new apps on another device. But this can be done pretty seamlessly by casting a Chrome window to your TV and finishing the search from there. Once you find something that you like, optimal viewing is a piece of cake.

Live TV streaming channels and services

With the 2019 update to Chromecast, we finally get our hands on the one service that used to be glaringly absent: Amazon Prime Video. This means Chromecast is now compatible with the complete roster of live offerings. Sorry Philo users, you’re pretty much the only ones that didn’t make the cut.

The one downside to livestreaming on Chromecast is the potential for a spotty connection, which could have been fixed by including an Ethernet port. Without it, you’ll just have to keep your friends close and your Wi-Fi closer.

Here’s a partial list of the livestreaming services available for Chromecast.

  • Netflix
  • Hulu + Live TV
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Sling TV
  • fubo TV
  • YouTube TV
  • CBS All Access
  • Pluto TV

See the full list of services.

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Not sure which service you want to watch on Chromecast? Our guide to the best live TV streaming services can help you sort through the torrent of options.

On-demand streaming apps

Want to watch TV on your own schedule? Chromecast has compatibility with a host of different on-demand channels to quench your thirst.

Whether you want to soak in the horrors of The Handmaid’s Tale or drop an elbow from the top rope with the ladies of GLOW, there really is something here for everyone.
Here’s a short list of your options:

  • Netflix
  • YouTube
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu
  • SHOWTIME Anytime
  • Google Play Movies
  • Vudu
  • Crunchyroll
  • Crackle
  • Pluto TV

See the full roster of Chromecast-compatible on-demand services.

Game and music apps

Google Chromecast has all of the music apps you could want. Compatibility with iTunes is still a little sketchy though, so you might need to use a work-around with the dongle’s display-mirroring feature.

Tired of playing games on your phone? Cast that mobile game to your TV, or grab a new one from the Google Play Store. The downside: you’ll need to upgrade to Chromecast Ultra if you want to play any of the awesome titles for the new Google Stadia.

Music apps:

  • Pandora
  • Spotify
  • SoundCloud
  • Podcast Addict
  • iHeartRadio
  • Slacker Radio
  • YouTube Music
  • Tidal
  • Google Play Music
  • NPR One
  • Amazon Prime Music

Games and gaming services:

  • Twitch
  • Risk
  • Scrabble Blitz
  • Deer Hunter 2018
  • Tricky Titans
  • Angry Birds Go!
  • Just Dance Now
  • Cast Games
  • Cast NES
  • LEGO Speed Champions

See the full list of games.

App and channel guide user experience

Chromecast’s use of casting means that you are the channel guide.
Since there’s no channel guide built in to the device, you’ll have to rely on the recommendations built in to your preferred app. Personally, I love the intuitive feel of Chromecast. It never interrupts the flow between podcasts, music, shows, and movies, and that’s just the way I like it.

You are the channel guide.

Google Chromecast remote

There is no dedicated remote for Chromecast, so the real question is how much you like your phone.

You can use a PC or tablet, too, but Chromecast’s integration really shines with a smartphone, especially Android models.

Remote control user experience

Chromecast lets you use your phone as a remote without giving up its other functions.

Do you want to watch Netflix and still check the scores from the big game? No problem—just start casting, and once the show begins, you can continue using your phone as usual. Nothing will stop you from tweeting your way through your favorite show or posting new Food Network recipes on Instagram.

If you like your phone, you’ll love it as a remote.

Google Chromecast models

There are two different Chromecast models for you to choose from—the basic Chromecast 3rd Gen or Chromecast Ultra for double the price.

The Ultra has some features the basic model doesn’t, including 4K Ultra HD and HDR compatibility, as well as an Ethernet port that guarantees a solid streaming connection. Plus, only the Ultra model works with Stadia, Google’s new streaming gaming service.

If you want the most high-quality video, are an avid gamer, or simply suffer from weak Wi-Fi, the Ultra is definitely your best bet. Outside of those conditions, you’ll probably be happy with the basic model for half the price.

ProductPriceSpec 1Spec 2Spec 3
Google Chromecast (3rd Gen)$35.00Stream from your devices to your TVTons of compatible apps, display mirroring for the restVoice control and Google Home integrationView on Amazon
Google Chromecast Ultra$69.00Stream from your devices to your TV4K Ultra HD video, HDR support and Ethernet portVoice control and Google Home integrationView on Amazon

Aside from the differences above, the basic Chromecast has most of the features of Chromecast Ultra. Both allow you to cast with ease, have loads of compatible apps, and give you voice control and the ability to connect with Google Home and Google Assistant.

Compatible devices with Google Chromecast

Chromecast has full integration with Google Home, so you can easily control it with voice commands through Google Assistant. It also pairs with smart speakers like Google Nest, making it the perfect addition to your smart home.

Final take

Chromecast is like getting a smartphone: you may not see the point before you have it, but after you get it, it’s hard to imagine living without it.

In short, we love Chromecast because it’s different from other devices. You may be disappointed if you want a single device to handle everything or if you can’t live without 4K video. But if you just want to harmonize and simplify your digital world, Chromecast hits all the right notes.

Google Chromecast FAQ

Is there a monthly fee for using Google Chromecast?

Chromecast has no subscription fee. Fees for the apps that you use, like Netflix or Hulu, still apply but are paid directly to those services.

Is it worth getting Chromecast Ultra?

Chromecast Ultra is worth the extra cash if you want 4K video and HDR. It’s also the best option if you have a weak Wi-Fi connection or if you want to use Google’s new streaming gaming service, Google Stadia.

Do you need Wi-Fi for Chromecast?

Yes, Wi-Fi is required for Chromecast.

Does Chromecast work with any TV?

Chromecast will work with any TV that has an HDMI port. You can also grab a relatively inexpensive HDMI-to-USB converter if you don’t have an HDMI port.

How do I connect to Chromecast without internet?

You cannot connect to Chromecast without a Wi-Fi connection.

Can you use Google Chromecast with mobile data?

Chromecast requires a local Wi-Fi connection.

Do I need Chromecast if I have a Smart TV?

Even if you have a Smart TV, Chromecast adds a ton of functionality by allowing you to cast from other devices. So this mainly depends on preference.

Can we screen mirror using Chromecast?

Yes, Google Chromecast has a very intuitive display-mirroring feature.

Can I use my phone while using Chromecast?

Once you start streaming your media, you can immediately resume normal usage of your phone. You’ll need to switch back to your viewing app only to rewind, pause, etc.

How do I use Chromecast on my TV?

Just connect Chromecast to your TV, configure it for your network, and you’re all set to start casting.

Can Chromecast work without a phone?

Yes, you can also use a PC or tablet to control media playback on the Chromecast.

Does Chromecast have Bluetooth?

Yes, Chromecast has Bluetooth, but unless you get a Bluetooth stereo adaptor, you can use its audio only with Google’s smart speakers.

Can you get local channels on Google Chromecast?

Yes, Chromecast is compatible with a number of apps that offer local channels and livestreaming.

How do I watch TV using Chromecast?

Load up your preferred streaming app, cast it to your TV using Chromecast, and enjoy your favorite shows.

Can I turn off my TV with Chromecast?

It depends on your TV. Check out the full list of compatible TVs.

Can I play music through Chromecast?

Chromecast offers compatibility with a ton of music streaming apps. You can also use Chromecast to cast music files from your own devices.

Can Google Chromecast work with iPhone?

Yes, Chromecast works with iOS, but it’s tailored for Android users.

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