As expected from numerous leaks, Google has released a non-4K version of its Chromecast streaming device. The Chromecast with Google TV HD, as it is officially called, provides what you’d expect from a budget streaming device with few surprises. At $29.99, the cheaper Chromecast competes directly with the Fire TV Stick Lite and Roku Express which cost the same. However, the Chromecast HD comes with the same remote as the 2020 Chromecast 4K, so you get TV power and volume controls on the remote, which the Fire TV and Roku do not offer at this price point.
The new Chromecast HD looks exactly like the 4K version, but, unlike the 4K model which comes in 3 colors, the HD version only comes in white. It’s capable of streaming 1080p video at 60fps and supports HDR10, HDR10+, HLG. A lack of Dolby Vision support isn’t surprising at this price point, but the new Chromecast does support AV1 video decoding, which is being heavily pushed by Google over H.265 video thanks to its lack of licensing fees for video providers and device manufacturers. As for audio support, the Chromecast HD supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Atmos via HDMI passthrough, but it’s unclear if it’s capable of decoding any of those formats locally on the device.
Under the hood of the Chromecast HD is an Amlogic S805X2 CPU with four Cortex-A35 cores of unknown clock speed and a
Mali-G31 MP2 GPU. That’s less powerful than the Amlogic S905X3 CPU in the 4K Chromecast, which is concerning because the 4K model is already starting to struggle a bit with Google TV’s interface. The HD model has 1.5 GB of RAM, compared to 2 GB in the 4K version, and the same paltry 8 GB of internal storage that has been the source of the most complaints for Google’s streaming device. Connectivity includes 802.11ac WiFi 5, so there are no WiFi 6 capabilities, and Bluetooth 5.2. The device is running Android 12 out of the gate, which Google says will be coming to the 4K Chromecast as well, but has not provided a date for the update.
While I’m not too fond of the shape and size of Google’s Chromecast remote, it’s impressive that Google is including it with the Chromecast HD at this price point, considering both Amazon and Roku bundle a cheaper remote that does not have TV controls with their $29.99 devices. (Note that, like the Roku remote, the Chromecast remote has volume buttons along the right side of the remote.) That said, the regular Fire TV Stick that includes Amazon’s best remote was available for $16.99 during Prime Day this year, so, even though Google is technically providing more bang for your buck at the list price of $29.99, Amazon may still have the advantage when sale prices are considered. The Chromecast HD is already available to order from Google’s store and Best Buy. Google will ship it in about a week while Best Buy has it immediately.