The new HD Chromecast with Google TV costs only $30 (and will likely be discounted during the holidays), meaning it’s less expensive than the original Chromecast dongle, which sold for $35 in 2013. As its name implies, the new device does not support 4K resolution, instead maxing out at 1080p (60 fps). Surprisingly, it does support the HDR10 and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats, bringing improved shadow detail to lower-resolution high-definition images. (Sorry, no Dolby Vision). On the audio side, the HD Chromecast supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Atmos.
Apart from resolution, another key difference between the HD and 4K streamers is the processor used. The 4K Chromecast, which sells for $50, uses the Amlogic s905 CPU, which is faster and more advanced than the Amlogic S805X2 processor used in the HD model. On the other hand, the HD Chromecast model provides 4.7GB of onboard storage compared with 4.4GB for the 4K, which means you’ll be able to install three or four more apps than with the 4K model.
The Google TV operating system is considered by many to have the best menu system and home screen of any streaming player. It populates the home screen with agnostic recommendations from most services and lets you identify which titles you like and dislike to further refine the recommendations and make it easier to find something you want to watch.
The HD Chromecast includes Android 12 update out of the box, which lets you match content frame rates during playback. The 4K Chromecast will be receiving this update too.
The remote control included with the HD model is the same as the handset Google provides with the 4K Chromecast, so it accepts voice commands for controlling the player and acts as a Google Assistant for home control. If you’re attached to the idea of a blue or pink model, though, you’re out of luck, as the HD Chromecast only comes in white (for now). Despite its lower resolution, you still can’t plug into the TV for power. Like the 4K model you get a USB power cable and wall power accessory.
The HD Chromecast player is certainly adequate for use in bedrooms and other secondary spaces or for those with older HDTVs or small screens. While it’s true it can’t play 4K content in full resolution, it’s also true that not all content is streamed in 4K. For example, most Hulu streams are in HD. And while original new programs are usually in 4K, much of the other available licensed content streams in HD. The affordable price makes it a good travel streamer to take with you.
The HD Chromecast with Google TV may not be for everyone, but it has its place in the Chromecast lineup. Plus, for a limited time, you’ll get six months of Peacock Premium for free, and that’s worth the $30 price tag right there.