The rumors are true: Google launched a new, more affordable version of its Chromecast devices, but it comes at the cost of a few features found in older models.
Dubbed the Chromecast with Google TV (HD), suspicions of this new device have surfaced recently with some reports speculating that the company is extending hardware support to non-4K TVs. And sure enough, that’s what happens. This new HD Chromecast (opens in new tab) is essentially a toned down version of the 2020 model that supports 4K HDR streaming and various Dolby video formats.
At first glance, the new device looks identical to the older model, as all changes are internal.
For $29.99, the HD Chromecast lets you stream content in 1080p (1920×1080 pixels) resolution at 60FPS. Support for 4K resolution is gone and so is Dolby Vision, an HDR (High Dynamic Range) format that enables brighter colors and deeper blacks. The new device supports HDR10 and HDR10+ which are not as robust as Dolby Vision, but still improve visual fidelity. The memory also saw a downgrade as the HD Chromecast has 1.5 GB of RAM compared to the 2 GB of RAM found on the 4K version.
What’s not gone are the Dolby audio features (opens in new tab). Dolby Digital, Digital Plus and the Ambiance (opens in new tab) audio format are still present in the HD Chromecast. Dolby Digital and Digital Plus, for those who don’t know, are compression technologies that help the device produce high-quality audio without losing fidelity. Dolby Atmos, on the other hand, is a format that replicates spatial sound for a more immersive experience. Atmos is present via HDMI pass-through, so you need the right equipment, such as a soundbar that supports the format.
The HD Chromecast package is split into the dongle itself, which you can connect directly to a TV via the HDMI cable and a remote.
On that remote you’ll find the same navigation circle present on the 4K model, as well as a few dedicated buttons for opening YouTube, Netflix and accessing Google Assistant. The remote also comes with voice commands to give the Assistant a command. You can even watch the video feed from a Nest Doorbell device via the HD Chromecast, according to Google.
The Chromecast with Google TV (HD) (opens in new tab) is now for sale in the company store, but only in Snow White. Australians, however, will have to pay a little more. In Australia, the device costs $59 AUD, which is about $40 USD.
Renovate Google TV
The HD Chromecast launch comes at an interesting time as Google updates its Google TV service.
Back in August 22, the company admitted that its service wasn’t delivering the best possible performance and has been trying to fix that ever since. A recent update provided improved storage management and a performance boost. The company states that Google TV contains more than 10,000 apps.
There are also Rumors are circulating that Google TV will get 50 extra channels of live TV with the need for an additional subscription. Given how the HD Chromecast started as a rumor and the renewed interest, the 50 channels could become a reality.
How well an HD-only Chromecast does in a market where 4K TVs are quickly becoming the standard remains to be seen. For those looking for a streaming bargain, this might just be the ticket.
Be sure to check out TechRadar’s review of the HD Chromecast’s older brother, the 4K HDR model from 2020 (We liked it a lot).