When it comes to branding, Google is not the best at removing confusion. The lines between the company̵
The Google Home and Nest mess is just one example of the Google branding confusion, but the streaming media products could be worse. There’s Google TV versus Android TV, Android TV versus Chromecast, and now Chromecast versus Google TV. Ouch!
What is Chromecast?
Chromecast is Google’s name for its line of streaming media dongles. Typically these devices do not contain physical remote controls. You simply plug it into a TV’s HDMI port to receive content from a mobile device.
This turns a Chromecast into a Chromecast: your phone, tablet, or computer is essentially the “remote control”. There is no interface on the TV for you to navigate. It’s just a blank canvas waiting to receive content from another device.
To do this, tap or click the Cast icon in a mobile app or Chrome browser, as shown below. This will bring up a list of devices you can cast to, including your Chromecast.
You can transfer videos, slideshows, music, or even screen mirrors. This is made possible by a protocol called “Google Cast”. Not only can Google Cast send streaming video to a Chromecast dongle attached to a TV, it can also send music to Google Nest smart speakers.
The term “Google Cast” only refers to the log, not consumer products. Devices with Google Cast technology are marketed with an integrated Chromecast.
This brings us to the confusingly named Chromecast with Google TV. It’s not actually a Chromecast in the way described above. Rather, it contains a physical remote control and an actual interface on the television. However, it can still receive content that you’ve transferred from another device.
What is Google TV?
In short, Google TV is Android TV for televisions. Android TV devices, set-top boxes and televisions run Android 9 or higher, while Google TV is based on Android 10+.
In contrast to the Chromecast without Google TV devices that we covered above, Google TV has a more traditional Smart TV interface. Apps, games, TV shows, and movies are displayed on a home screen that you can navigate using the supplied remote control (or a remote app).
CONNECTED: Here’s how to control the Chromecast with Google TV using 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.
CONNECTED: How to install apps and games on Google TV
That’s the main difference between Chromecast and Google TV: Chromecast doesn’t have apps (it only receives content). Google TV is a complete operating system that can run apps and games.
You can also find the aforementioned built-in Chromecast on Google TV devices. The remote control and home screen are intended to be the primary method of navigation. However, you can also transfer content from your phone, tablet or computer.
Chromecast with Google TV sounds confusing, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Google TV devices are Chromecasts, in essence, as 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 one is best for you?
Whether you should get a Chromecast or Google TV depends on what you’re doing on your TV. However, the lines between the two will become more blurred.
A Chromecast is an easy and inexpensive way to turn any TV with an HDMI port into a Smart TV. It’s also great for casual viewing. Lots of 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 onto your TV. Many apps also include a queuing feature that allows users to add videos to a list and then watch them in turn.
Google TV is better if you prefer a “lean-back” experience because you can browse your services with a remote control. The home screen is also full of recommendations that can be used to quickly start movies or TV shows.
These devices tend to be more powerful than Chromecast dongles. For example, you can run side loader apps, change the screen saver, watch TV wirelessly, and plug in gaming controllers. In general, they can do a lot more.
The last thing to consider is the price. Fortunately, the two got closer here. Chromecasts have traditionally been much cheaper, in the $ 30 range, while Android TVs were $ 100 or more.
As of this writing, however, the Chromecast with Google TV costs $ 50, which significantly reduces that price gap.
So if your main goal is to cast movies and TV shows, a Chromecast is all you need. If you want casting skills and In an on-screen menu that you can navigate, you want Google TV.