Google’s newest TV companion is the Chromecast HD. Both it and the 2020 Chromecast look identical and share many of the same features, so what are the main differences? Let’s find out.
First, it’s worth noting that there are several versions of Chromecast in addition to the HD and 4K versions with Google TV. Prior to those devices, there was the Legacy Chromecast line, which didn’t use a remote. Instead, you had to cast everything you wanted to show, which could be a hassle, which is why it was never seen as a standalone device for your TV.
Cut to 2020, Google released the Chromecast with Google TV. Google TV is a version of Android TV made specifically for Chromecast and works phenomenally well. Because of the operating system it runs on, the new Chromecast is much more of a standalone device that could replace your SHIELD or even Apple TV.
What is the difference?
At first glance you are looking at two very similar devices. The housing of the Chromecast HD itself has the same minimal oval design that can be easily tucked behind a TV. Both have the same short HDMI cable that allows the Chromecast to hang from the back and a USB-C port for power. The remotes are even identical, with the same button layout and design that’s perfect to use – and lose.
HD – A step back from 4K
The real differences are in the internal structure. As the names – Chromecast HD vs 4K – imply, the Chromecast with Google TV HD supports standard HD video.
Now, in 2016, that may have been impressive, but in 2022 it means something less than flashy. The Chromecast HD only outputs 1920×1080 video, which doesn’t look all that healthy on 4K TVs. The device still handles HDR content, giving it a little extra life. Even with that, the difference in resolution is noticeable in some cases.
As for the Chromecast with Google TV (2020), that older device streams in 4K for most applications. Video streaming apps like Hulu still don’t handle in 4K, which is more of Hulu’s responsibility than the Chromecast itself.
Related: Chromecast with Google TV, almost two years later – Badly outdated hardware betrays the good operating system
Internally, you have another chip that powers the device. That chip is the Amlogic S805X2, which supports AV1 decoding – the Chromecast (2020) doesn’t support AV1 – although the hardware limits the resolution. As for storage, you’re looking at the same 8GB with a decrease to 1.5GB of RAM.
In reality, HD is totally fine for the device and in some cases is a much better option than the Chromecast with 4K. For those who have sub-4K and older TVs, the Chromecast is a fantastic option for turning it into a smart TV and equipping it with the power to stream tons of content. Buying a 4K device and equipping an HD TV with it just doesn’t make sense, especially if there’s a cost difference.
A significant price drop
The Chromecast with Google TV 4K is currently available for purchase alongside the Chromecast HD. While not expensive at first, there is quite a significant price difference between the two devices.
The older model that handles higher resolution video costs $49.99. If you’re looking for an addition to your 4K TV, $50 is nothing to scoff at. As for the Chromecast HD, the price is a little easier to swallow at $29.99. Again, this is a great mid-range price for those who just need to refurbish older TVs and don’t need to fully equip them.
Few power options and even fewer colors
A big downside of the Chromecast with Google TV in 2020 was the way of charging. Rather than being able to charge through the regular USB-A port on most modern TVs, the Chromecast needed its own brick and dedicated outlet to get enough power.
We hoped that a less demanding Chromecast could get enough juice from the USB port behind TVs, but that’s not the case. Like the 4K 2020 model, the Chromecast HD also needs its own brick and socket to stay on.
In addition, another downside is the lack of colors for the Chromecast HD. If you remember, the Chromecast with Google TV 4K has several colorways to choose from, each with a matching remote. Those colors were a beautiful light blue called “Sky” and a pastel coral called “Sunrise”. Of course there is also a white version for boring people like me. Unfortunately, that white version is the only option offered for the Chromecast HD.
Since both Chromecasts are outwardly identical, we can see new colors for the HD version along the way. But from now on we will have to make do with white.
All in all, both devices are great. The original Chromecast with Google TV 4K is a great little streamer that makes a great addition to most TVs. The Little HD Brother, on the other hand, is a great tool for TVs that don’t need 4K content, but also older devices that can’t quite handle it anyway.
Both are for specific uses, and because Google hasn’t strayed too far with the newer HD model, you’re looking at a competent option for general streaming needs.
Buy the Chromecast
Chromecast with Google TV HD
Chromecast with Google TV 4K
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