A few weeks ago I was like, “Hey, I should see what Chromecast is with Google TV.” So I pulled one out of our test cabinets, installed it on my TV, downloaded all my favorite apps, and waited for the magic to happen. Unfortunately, nothing was really too magical.
Maybe I’m too much of a seasoned streaming editor, but I quickly realized (within weeks) that I wasn’t going to keep the nice streaming dongle in one of my TV’s precious HDMI ports. Yes, the Chromecast with Google TV is definitely one of the best streaming devices out there, but it won’t be mine.
Why did I switch to Chromecast with Google TV? I’ve heard a lot of people rave about it, and I’m also a bit curious. I’ve used it for research and comparisons, but it’s a device I haven’t spent much time with (my colleague Mike Prospero wrote our Chromecast with Google TV review).
The Chromecast with the Google TV home screen is not for me
A home screen matters a lot. You do not believe me? Just look at how your phone’s home screen is laid out. You hide the things you don’t want, right? Well, the Chromecast with the Google TV home screen (titled “For You”) became too much for me, with a bunch of stuff get in the way. Nothing is more annoying than ads for movies I frankly don’t care about (sorry Katherine Heigl, no offense to your movie One for the Money, but I’ll double click to leave).
Personally, I just want quick access to specific apps. And since the Chromecast with Google TV Remote only has pre-programmed Netflix and YouTube buttons, the ads and “Top picks for you” rows seem like fodder I don’t need. Especially when he suggests I watch SportsCenter (via YouTube TV).
I love that the live TV service integration started with YouTube TV and Sling TV, but this recommendation is groundless: I’ve never really watched SportsCenter on YouTube TV, and I don’t plan on doing so now. . Wasn’t the future of the cord cutter supposed to be about ditching the things we don’t use? Why do we always feel like we’re on a slow march towards a cable-like situation, under a different name?
Why Do Home Screen Stuff I Don’t Like Annoy Me So Much? Well, on Tuesday night, when I was jumping between Sling TV and YouTube TV, testing for an upcoming article, I found that menu excess and a case of butter-finger syndrome led to more errors.
I was accidentally clicking on the row of tabs at the very top of the screen because there are so many clicks you have to make to get to the right apps.
And while I expect to hang out with the Fire TV (which has a similar interface) next, that style just doesn’t fit the way I want to stream.
Keep watching and live TV should be better
I wanted to test the Chromecast with Google TV, partly because it does things differently, trying to make things appear smarter so you spend less time watching and more time watching. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a great experience.
As I explained before, the Chromecast with Google TV’s Continue Watching line doesn’t really work that well. Some days you can’t delete items you don’t want to watch, other times the wrong episode or season number appears.
Then there’s the other feature that got me excited. The “Live” section. Except that, once again, the reality did not meet my hopes.
First, I used the Live section with Sling TV, which didn’t really work well because the order of the channels didn’t match my custom build, which put my finger clicker through the ringtone.
But even when I used it with YouTube TV – which has my favorites at the top of the grid – it still had the big boxes that you can see, for the channels I don’t watch. Sure, I could click on a few rows, but if it can tell which channels I watch the most, why not put them in those boxes? It does not mean anything.
Yes, you can select and favorite a channel, but who wants to go through that job? Things like this should be more automatic.
The Chromecast’s remote buttons leave me wanting more
Maybe I’m the problem here. But the top six buttons on the Chromecast’s first remote become awfully confusing if you don’t want to stare at your device.
Look at most other remotes, and you’ll see that everyone has realized that people like physically dissimilar buttons. This is because it is easier to “feel” which button is which. Even Apple’s remote has a concave “back” button.
Also, I would like to have a dedicated play/pause button, and not just use the “center” button in the middle of the navigation buttons.
Apple Music on Chromecast is flawed at best
I guess this one is on me. “Who would get a Chromecast if they were already using Apple Music? I don’t hear anyone in particular asking. Surely you would think that us Apple Music users would prefer the Apple TV, right? Well, what about those who don’t want to spend $179 on the Apple TV 4K when the $49 Chromecast with Google TV (which pretty much looks like an Apple device, hardware-wise) is just right the?
Well, as I learned when I tried to cast Apple Music to the Chromecast, there is no Apple Music app for the device. Sure, there’s an Android Apple Music app (which can stream to the Chromecast), but there’s no dedicated app.
So instead, you set up Apple Music with Google Home to hear Apple Music on Chromecast with Google TV.
So that means you’re limited to voice commands, which is kind of silly. And you use some kind of home screen widget to get back to your reading screen. I don’t blame Google for this – Apple shares the blame – but both sides should come to an agreement. Especially now that Apple Music is finally on Roku.
The straw that broke the camel’s back
Randomly on Sunday night, while watching a WWE live event, I kept getting the “Device pairing request” below because my Google Home app (which I use as a software remote) kept crashing. disconnect from Chromecast with Google TV.
And that’s the kind of thing that just doesn’t work. It didn’t show up after Sunday (I used the Chromecast until Wednesday), but it was the kind of annoying nuisance I didn’t even want to risk repeating.
Bottom line: The choice is good, but it’s not my choice
So the Chromecast with Google TV is not for me. And it’s very okay. Right now, all of the top streaming services are on most of the top streaming devices. So you can just jump between sticks and dongles and streaming boxes to find the right fit for you.
I started using different streaming devices for my personal streaming when a Netflix audio issue on my Apple TV 4K popped up during Formula 1: Drive to Survive binges. This bug can be fixed (I’m not sure), but I’ll still spend some time on other devices anyway. Roku’s hardware is still great, but I’d prefer Apple TV if all things were equal.
The next step? I’ll be streaming on the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max, the first Fire Stick we put on our list of best streaming devices. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Do you like reality TV? Get ready for the Bling Empire Season 2 Release Date — as drama and fashion return.