Google is not particularly known for its clear branding. This is certainly the case for Chromecast, Google Cast, and Android TV. These platforms have some overlapping functionality, but they are also quite different. Let’s take a look at each of them, so you can determine which one is right for you.
What is Chromecast?
Google’s trademark for its line of streaming media dongles is Chromecast. These devices are compact, inexpensive, and work without the use of a physical remote control. They use HDMI to connect to TVs and act as receivers for streaming video from other devices.
The latter is what truly distinguishes a Chromecast. There is no “home screen” or traditional interface when you insert a Chromecast dongle into your TV. It’s a blank canvas just ready to be filled. Your iPhone or Android device, tablet, or PC with the Chrome browser serves as a Chromecast remote. Simply tap the Chromecast icon (seen below) whenever you see it in an app or website. Your material will display when you select the device to which you want to stream it. You may watch videos, see slideshows, listen to music, and even mirror your screen.
A technology known as Google Cast enables streaming. Google Cast can not only send video to a Chromecast dongle attached to a TV, but it can also transfer music to a Google Nest speaker. This is where things get a little complicated with Google Cast.
It only refers to the protocol (devices that support Chromecast will state “Chromecast built-in”). Google Cast isn’t relevant for Chromecast devices, but it is relevant for Android TVs. The most important thing to keep in mind is that a Chromecast is merely a receiver for material from phones, tablets, and web browsers.
What about Chromecast with Google TV?
Chromecast functions in the same way as any other Android TV device with Google TV. It may appear perplexing due to the brand name “Chromecast,” but keep in mind that Android TV devices have all of the features of Chromecast devices. It’s just a Chromecast with more functions, according to Google.
What you should know is that Android TV will eventually be rebranded “Google TV.” The Chromecast with Google TV interface will progressively extend to other Android TV devices. In the future, there will be no Android TV, only Chromecast and Google TV.
What is Android TV?
Android TV is a multimedia device version of the Android operating system. It’s usually seen on set-top devices that are larger than a Chromecast, such as the Nvidia Shield. Android TV is also available in smaller Chromecast-style dongles and is incorporated into select TVs.
Android TV devices, unlike Chromecast, come with real remote controls. Android TV does, after all, include a standard home screen from which you can launch apps and games. It looks like what you’d find on a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or smart TV. Consider Android TV in the same way that you would a smartphone.
It includes an app store for downloading programs and games, a home screen for shortcuts, and a Settings menu. The Google Play Store is available on Android TVs, just like it is on Android phones and tablets. This makes it simple to install apps made specifically for Android TV set-top boxes. Premium games that can be played with a controller can also be installed. On your Android TV, you’ll notice the “Chromecast built-in” functionality we discussed previously.
While the remote and the Home screen are the major means of interaction, you can also “stream” video to an Android TV, just like you can with a Chromecast. You may use an Android TV in the same way as you would a Chromecast. You can cast anything to Android TV that you can cast to a Chromecast.
It can, however, become a little odd. When you stream a YouTube video, for example, the YouTube app will not appear, but it will work just like a Chromecast. The Android TV background (also known as a screensaver) is identical to that of a Chromecast. The key difference is that an Android TV is powered by a full-fledged operating system, making it a more powerful media device.
What is Android TV?
One thing to keep in mind is that there is a big difference between Android TV and old Android. There are inexpensive set-top boxes on the market with the same version of Android that works on phones.
This version has not been customized for a TV interface. Avoid these devices if you want a clean, hassle-free experience.
Which is the best for you?
You might be wondering which option is ideal for you now that we’ve gone over each one. It all depends on how you engage with your television, what you prefer to watch, and your budget. Chromecasts are excellent for casual entertainment such as watching YouTube videos, streaming Netflix, or viewing photo slideshows, among other things.
A Chromecast is frequently used as a secondary input on a television. If you mostly watch cable TV, a Chromecast is a cheap and simple way to add “smart” features to your setup. Group monitoring is another benefit of Chromecast. Anyone with access to the Chromecast’s Wi-Fi network will be able to stream content to it.
YouTube, for example, has a “queue” feature that allows several individuals to upload videos to a group list and watch them simultaneously. All of this applies to Android TV as well. Android TV, on the other hand, is a full-fledged operating system with its own UI, in addition to Chromecast’s built-in functions.
Android TV does not require the use of a phone or tablet. Because you can simply browse the content with the remote, Android TV is also perfect for more leisurely viewing. It also improves the streaming of TV episodes and movies on Android TV. It’s just a lot easier to use a remote control to peruse a channel guide on a TV screen.
Android TV devices are generally more powerful and feature-rich. You can use it as a game console by connecting a controller, view live air channels by connecting an antenna, load apps from the side, modify the screen saver, and more.
The final point to consider is the cost. Chromecast is a reasonably priced device. A basic model costs roughly $30, while a higher-end model with 4K capability costs around $70. The cost of an Android TV varies. There are a few possibilities for under $50, but the bulk are high-end ones that cost over $200. If you want a more complete “smart TV” experience, it’s worth it.
Chromecast, on the other hand, is ideal if you only want to use it sometimes. It all depends on your present setup and what you want to get out of your internet-connected television.