Google Launches Chromecast HD, With Bad News For UK Buyers


Two years after the launch of Google’s 4K Chromecast With Google TV, a new lower-cost version of Google’s streaming device has been released, which ditches 4K video quality for Full HD (1080p).

The new Chromecast With Google TV HD, that comes with a bundled remote (unlike the older generation of HD Chromcasts) costs considerably less than the 4K version – but UK buyers are losing out again when compared to the device’s price in the US.

In the UK, the new Chromecast HD costs £34.99, while the older, 4K version costs £59. 

In the US, however, the new Chromecast HD is priced at $29.99 – which is around £27 (at today’s extreme conversion rates – and even less than that, up until a few days ago).

The same thing happened when the 4K Chromecast with Google TV launched back in 2020 – in the US, its price is $49.99, while in the UK it’s £59.

Chromecast With Google TV HD living room

Chromecast with Google TV HD – The Software

Pricing differences aside, the new Chromecast HD is very similar, in many ways, to its older 4K brother – but cheaper, thanks to the lower video quality.

The early generations of Google’s Chromecast streaming devices (see our review here), were useful in that you could stream almost anything to them from your mobile phone or laptop – and then to your TV. 

But without a remote control or any visual interface, you had to rely on your mobile phone and the apps installed on it.

The Chromecast with Google TV (both the 4K and new HD version), however, comes with a fully visual operating system called “Google TV”.

It’s similar to Android TV, which still comes on a number of 3rd-party devices, but is more advanced – especially in the area of content recommendations and voice control.

Google TV supports most of the leading UK streaming apps and services – but some (like Sky’s NOW) are still missing from it.

Chromecast With Google TV HD apps

In addition to letting you choose which apps to use, Google TV focuses on personalisation. It will recommend shows and films it believes you might like, based on your previous selections – and put them front and centre.

Furthermore, these recommendations, along with Google TV’s global watchlist – let you see and add programmes from a large variety of 3rd party streaming services, like Amazon’s Prime Video and Netflix – similar to what Sky’s streaming TV, Glass, does with its global watchlist.

New chromecast google tv picks for you
Google TV’s interface

Chromecast with Google TV – The Specs

The new HD version of the Chromecast looks almost identical to the 4K version (they’re even the same weight and size) – it’s still a small disc with a short HDMI cable at the end, and the remote is almost identical.

The remote includes a dedicated voice button that lets you use Google’s Assistant for searching and for voice commands, it has two shortcut buttons (for Netflix and Youtube), as well as TV control buttons – on/off and volume control.

Chromecast With Google TV HD

The main differences between the 4K Chromecast and the new HD Chromecast (other than the price) are of course on the inside.

The 4K version supports Ultra HD video quality along with HDR, while the HD version only supports videos up to 1080p – and HDR.

Speaking of HDR, the 4K version supports HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vision – and the HD version supports the first three – but there’s no Dolby Vision HDR support.

As for sound, both versions support Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos via HDMI passthrough.

Chromecast With Google TV HD behind TV

The quad-core CPU is reportedly different this time around – while the 4K version has an Amlogic S905X3 CPU, the new HD version has an Amlogic S805X2 CPU – it remains to be seen whether that will have an effect on the performance and speed of the device.

RAM has also been downgraded, from 2GB on the 4K version, to 1.5GB on the HD version.

On the plus side, the new HD Chromecast supports the newer AV1 video decoding format (which is used on YouTube, for example) – while the 4K version doesn’t. 

Chromecast with Google TV HD VS Firestick And Roku

At £59, Google’s 4K Chromecast is still more expensive than both Amazon and Roku’s top streaming sticks. 

Fire TV 4K Max VS Roku Stick 4K VS Chromecast with Google TV portrait
Fire TV 4K Max VS Roku Stick 4K VS Chromecast with Google TV

Amazon’s 4K Max Fire TV stick costs £54.99 (and often less, when it’s on sale), and the 4K (non-Max) Fire TV normally costs £49.99. 

Roku’s Streaming Stick 4K costs £49.99 – and again, it’s often less than that when it’s on sale. Roku also has an even cheaper 4K device – the Roku Express 4K, which normally costs £39.99.

But how are things in the HD-only arena of streaming sticks, where the new Chromecast now competes?

The cheapest Fire TV Stick – the Fire TV Lite, normally costs £29.99, and the Roku Express (HD) is also, usually, £29.99 (and is now just £19.99, because Roku is running a special sale).

Therefore, at £35, the Chromecast with Google TV HD is also more expensive than all of its direct competitors.

As I’ve said before about the 4K version – there isn’t much reason for this price difference, and the same holds true for the new HD Chromecast. 

If you’re a fan of Google TV and its operating system, then £5 (when not on sale) won’t be much of a difference – but you’re getting very similar hardware, a similar experience – and you’re paying more.