I have had a Chromecast plugged into my TV for many years. The ability to throw something to your TV from an app on your phone is an absolute godsend. This is especially useful when you are traveling and don’t want to miss watching the Warriors get thumped, as you can take your Chromecast, plug it into a TV, and boom. In seconds you can watch the Warriors dropping the ball, or scoring epic tries in a game we lose by 30 points in real time.
The bad news, it is going to be a long year for Warriors fans. The good news is the latest Chromecast lets you install apps and comes with a remote.
There is always the question of if you need something new, or need that upgrade. So in this case, why would you need this when you can install apps on your TV? The easy answer is Smart TVs go out of support all the time. My Panasonic has had a few apps already go out of support. With all the minor tweaks in OS and hardware variations, it isn’t surprising that app makers will only be able to support hardware for a limited time.
As such, the ability to use a separate bit of kit that will stay in support for longer is pretty damn appealing. Consumer NZ and Fair Go covered this a while ago, where Hayden explained this better than I can. If you don’t trust me, surely you can trust Consumer NZ and Fair Go. Heck I would trust fair Go with my child, I tried, but apparently they don’t want to babysit.
There are a few options out there like SmartVu but when it comes to a device being supported, the actual makers of Android are pretty damn enticing. Here we have it, the Google Chromecast (4th Generation) with Google TV which I will be calling the Chromecast 4 for the rest of this review.
Current Chromecast users will first notice the biggest change. There is a remote.
Previous Chromecasts were basically a unit to project what you were running from your phone. The Chromecast 4 is that streaming unit that is equipped with the remote will satisfy most of your streaming requirements.
The remote itself is a tidy little unit that feels well built. It meets all the requirements, but for those Google Assistant fans out there, it comes with a button that will make you happy. Pressing the weird bubble symbol you can ask for what you are looking for. The show, movie, series, or weather. You ask, Google Assistant can find it. I found it worked well in testing. I’m not the biggest fan of those kinds of tools, so I stopped using it immediately, but it’s there if you want it.
The only real issue is the remote apparently appeals to 12 month olds. My little dude eyed it up the moment it came out of the box, and if you leave it within reach then your show is gonna change at random times.
Setting it up
Speaking of out of the box, setting up a Chromecast is so damn silky smooth. Plug the Chromecast into an HDMI port on the TV and the power and the bad boy powers up.
Make sure the Google home app is on your phone and then you follow the simple instructions on the app and TV. This part was easy as hell, and even with all of the extra capabilities of the Chromecast 4 it threw up no challenges. One new step has you choosing the make of your TV to sync up the remote. I told the Chromecast it was a Panasonic, and it tried to sync up. The power button on the remote turned off my TV, but wouldn’t turn it back on. After choosing the option saying it didn’t work, the Chromecast tried a second time and voila, the Chromecast remote can turn on and off the TV, and volume settings.
What surprised me the most, after this, my TV remote also worked on the Chromecast. All of a sudden I have two Chromecast remotes.
What if two remotes aren’t enough
I figured that a unit made by Google surely had to have an app that would let me put passwords into apps from my phone. A quick Google search later and I discovered that in the Google Home app there is a remote function, but it wasn’t available for me. The Google troubleshooting gave a list of minimum requirements, as opposed to checking and confirming for me the issue.
I did everything from updating the software, uninstalling and reinstalling apps, everything before I almost gave up in frustration. Almost, until I found one last thing. It turns out that if you swipe down on your android phone, and expand that to see hidden icons, there is one for Remote. Enabled that and Boom, I was in action again.
Learn from me. Enable that now and never have to spend far too long being annoyed.
The UI and apps
Booting I was kind of expecting to start it up and be presented with a classic App screen. Instead the Chromecast 4 presents you with a Home which includes a bunch of recommendations from multiple streaming services.
I have a love-hate relationship here. Ideally I would personally rather be given a generic app screen on the front page but I am sometimes an old fuddy duddy. I decided to try embracing it, and I honestly found some gems being recommended, and over time it gets better. Annoyingly it would recommend stuff on services you aren’t subscribed to. I even uninstalled the Disney+ app to see if that would stop it but I still got Disney+ recommendations
Having said that, when you search for a show using the Chromecast search, it is handy showing other services so you can see where you can find the show you want. Maybe there is a streaming service you didn’t know about that has the show you need. So again, love it at times, hate it at times. In reality, pressing the right button gets you to the screen with your apps, so it isn’t a major problem. Also you can turn this off and make it show apps and a few ads in the settings if you don’t get used to it.
What I was hoping for was a Sky Go app that would mean I could take my Chromecast 4 with me and watch the Warriors lose in style. Well that or watch the Phoenix win in style, in Talay we trust. Unfortunately there isn’t a Sky Go app on there yet, so you will need to keep casting from your phone for now. Not a major, but it would be a good thing to have.
I know what you are thinking, this is for watching TV right? Well yeah, but you can also install games. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to try to play games on your remote. All the ones I saw asked for a gamepad.
But where will I find a Gamepad, you ask? Well do you have any bluetooth controllers? Like your PS4, PS5, Xbox, or a PC one? Pairing my DualSense controller to it took seconds and I was off playing a below average rally game.
There may be some value here playing the actual decent games on the Play Store. I was only playing a below average rally game because I was testing with the first free game I found. If you spend a few bucks there are amazing mobile games to be played. The real strength here will be if they get the Xbox Game Pass app on there and you can Cloud Stream to it. All of a sudden your Chromcast will become an awesome little Xbox you can take on your holiday. For now the Steam Link one there if you have a gaming PC.
Should you get one?
Absolutely. At $110 it is a pretty damn good value way to make you turn any TV into a smart TV. The small form factor means it stays hidden away behind the TV, and is super easy to transport so you can take your apps with you on holiday.
I am absolutely enjoying the hell out of using it, and it is a justifiable upgrade from an older model.