I now think a good affordable flat screen TV with no smart features might be a good business proposition. This is because there are so many plug-and-play smart streaming devices out there that make smartness in the TV itself a bit pointless.
From Amazon Fire Sticks to Apple TV, the options are many and the experience is very good. Now, Google is bringing in its latest Chromecast device with 4K streaming into India. Here is what I thought of the Chromecast with Google TV device.
Chromecast with Google TV
The Chromecast device I got for review was a compact all-white disk that connects to the TV or projector with an HDMI cable. It also has a USB-C power point that needs to be connected to a power source. No, it does not work if you are powering it from a USB port on the TV like with the Fire Stick.
The set-up is really easy, as with most Google devices these days. I used my iPhone to find the device via the Google Home app. A few minutes later, it was up and running. And it helped that apps that were logged in on the phone did not need an additional sign-up process to start working on the Chromecast.
The remote is small and very handy. It comes with a control ring that helps you navigate and select. There are dedicated buttons for back, Google Assistant, home, mute YouTube and Netflix. The volume buttons are on the side and that took some getting used to. But using the remote is easy and intuitive and with the OnePlus TV, the HDMI connection ensured that I needed just one remote for the telly as well as the Chromecast.
Once the device powers on, you will realise that picture quality is very different from what is native to your television, at least mine. That is because the 4K HDR comes with a different contrast ratio and runs smoothly at 60 fps. I loved the colour configuration here which was softer than what I am used to, but much more soothing on the eyes.
The interface is very easy to use with no learning involved at all. It is good to see search gets so much prominence here, underlining that you really don’t need to navigate the apps all the time and simple voice commands will get to you Netflix or the latest Malayalam comedy clips. Trust Google to do this, though.
One tab filters content based on what Google knows about your watching behaviour, and we all know Google knows too much about that. Plus, you have separate tabs for Films and TV shows, another just for apps and a library for content you have purchased like movies.
The account button offers a bit of smartphone like settings that lets you see notifications, change Wi-Fi and add accessories or just switch wallpapers.
One thing that stood out for me in the Google TV experience is that the interface is so soothing on the eyes.
The advantage of Google TV is how you have access to literally any app on the Play Store and its contents. And once these are installed, be it a Disney+ or a Sun Next, you can just use voice search to pull up a movie or specific genre of movies. You can easily run gaming apps too, though you might need a gamepad to play most of these as the Google remote is not exactly gaming material. This is actually the only drawback of the device.
A lot of older TVs, even though capable of downloading apps, often crash when you run many of them, like a Puffin Browser for instance. There are no such processing issues with the Chromecast and this will be a major reason for me to maybe use it on one of the many HDMI ports on my TV.
Chromecast with Google TV: Should you buy it?
At Rs 6,399, the Chromecast with Google TV is a good addition to the living room, especially if your TV is a bit old or not that smart, or strong, enough to let you download and run any app you want. This has one of the best TV interfaces around and that could also be a reason for picking up this new accessory.
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