When it comes to branding, Google is not the best at eliminating confusion. The lines between the company̵7;s streaming products became even more blurred with the introduction of Chromecast with Google TV. So, what exactly is the difference between Chromecast and Google TV? Let’s break it down!
Touch, which is Google Home and Nest, is just one example of a confusing Google brand, but its streaming media products can be even worse. There is Google TV versus Android TV, Android TV versus Chromecast, and now Chromecast versus Google TV. Yikes!
What is Chromecast?
Chromecast is Google’s name for its series of streaming media dongles. These devices usually do not include physical remote controls. Rather, just plug them into a TV’s HDMI port to receive content from a mobile device.
This is what makes a Chromecast a Chromecast: your phone, tablet or computer is essentially the “remote control”. There is no interface on the TV you can navigate; it is simply an empty canvas waiting to receive content from another device.
To do this, tap or click the Cast icon (shown in the image below) in a mobile app or Chrome browser. A list of devices that you can cast to, including your Chromecast, will then be displayed.
You can cast videos, slide shows, music or even screen mirrors. This is made possible by a protocol called “Google Cast.” Google Cast can not only send streaming video to a Chromecast dongle connected to a TV, but it also sends music to Google Nest smart speakers.
The term “Google Cast” refers only to the protocol, not consumer products. Devices that have Google Cast technology are marketed as built-in Chromecast.
This leads us to the confusingly named Chromecast with Google TV. It’s not really a Chromecast in the way we described above. Rather, it includes a physical remote control and an actual interface on the TV. However, it can still receive content that you cast from another device.
What is Google TV?
In short, Google TV is Android TV for TVs. Android TVs, digital boxes and TVs run Android 9 or later, while Google TV is built on Android 10+.
Unlike Chromecast without Google TV devices that we covered above, Google TV offers a more traditional Smart TV interface. Apps, games, TV shows, and movies appear on a home screen that you can navigate with the included remote control (or remote control).
RELATED: How to control Chromecast with Google TV with your phone
Just like on Android phones and tablets, you can access the Google Play Store on Google TV. Most of the popular streaming services are available on Google TVs, as are many games.
RELATED: How to install apps and games on Google TV
That’s the biggest difference between Chromecast and Google TV: Chromecast has no apps (it only accepts content). Google TV is a complete operating system that can run apps and games.
You’ll also find the aforementioned “Chromecast built-in” on Google TVs. The remote control and home screen are intended to be the primary navigation method. However, you can also cast content from your phone, tablet or computer.
Chromecast with Google TV sounds confusing, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Google TV Devices is essentially Chromecasts because they can receive content that you cast in exactly the same way. The only difference is that you also have the Google TV interface.
Which is best for you?
Whether you get a Chromecast or a Google TV depends on what you do on your TV. However, the lines between the two become more blurred.
A Chromecast is a simple, affordable way to convert any TV with an HDMI port to a smart TV. It is also good for casual viewing. Many people use Chromecasts in a secondary input to complement a cable box.
Chromecasts are also great for parties or groups as anyone can connect to your Wi-Fi network and cast content to your TV. Many apps also include a queue feature so people can add videos to a list and then watch them in order.
Google TV is better if you prefer a more “lean-back” experience because you can browse your services with a remote control. The home screen is also full of recommendations, making it easy to quickly start movies or TV shows.
These devices tend to be more powerful than Chromecast dongles. You can do things like sideload apps, change screensavers, watch air TV, and connect game controllers. In general, they can only do much more.
Price is the last thing you need to think about. Fortunately, this is where the two have come closer. Chromecasts were traditionally much cheaper and hovered around $ 30, while Android TVs went for $ 100 or more.
At the time of writing, however, Chromecast with Google TV is $ 50, which makes the price gap much smaller.
So if casting movies and TV shows is the most important thing you want to do, a Chromecast is all you need. If you want to cast abilities and an on-screen menu that you can navigate to, you want Google TV.