Comparing Google’s popular Chromecast versus Android TV may seem like a reasonably straightforward task. Both allow for a lot of the same functionality. At the same time, it’s far from clear-cut, namely on the basis of hardware. The Chromecast
from Google is a standalone piece of equipment. Android TV
, on the other hand, is an operating system itself reliant on different devices.
To complicate things further, both are Google products. Google acquired Android way back in 2005. While it remains distinct from the broader Google brand, more recently, there are growing ties between Android TV and the search giant’s Chromecast. So, which should you buy? To help you make that decision, here’s a closer look at the two offerings.
Google’s Chromecast is, in essence, a small dongle for streaming content on almost any TV
. Popular as a means of equipping older units with a degree of smart functionality, the Chromecast is now in its third generation. The device costs $35.
That said, a costlier addition to the range did arrive last year, equipped with a remote control, 4K support, and other benefits. Costing $49.99, it’s more on par with other, better-equipped digital media players.
Some have argued that the current entry-level Chromecast has largely failed to innovate in its latest, third-generation guise. Maybe, one could propose, that’s intentional to make the costlier $50 alternative a more attractive proposition. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of the $35 device in question.
Google Chromecast Pros
- Affordable at just $35
- Easy to use
- Huge range of apps available
- Range of connectivity options
- Multi-purpose capacity
- Two-year warranty costs less than $5
- No remote with the standard Chromecast
- 1080p support only
- Starting to feel dated
- Now in the shadow of Google’s costly alternative
As you can see, Google’s Chromecast still has plenty going for it, particularly considering its low cost. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to see why someone may look elsewhere.
Unlike the Google Chromecast, Android TV isn’t a piece of equipment. Rather, it’s an operating system. With that, and strictly in terms of hardware, looking at Android TV from this perspective must also involve looking at suitable digital media players from various other brands. Currently, manufacturers including Nvidia, Xiaomi, TiVo, and Nokia all make media players designed for Android TV.
Furthermore, Android TV is also compatible with the latest incarnation of Chromecast. Moreover, the Chromecast with Google TV, as it’s known, runs Android TV by default.
With that now established, what does the actual Android TV operating system have to offer?
Android TV Pros
- Reasonable cross-compatibility
- Not reliant on hardware from a single brand
- Works very well in the shape of Chromecast with Google TV
- Growing number of apps available
- Support for most big streaming services
Android TV Cons
- Appropriate digital media players can be costly
- Can’t access content from all providers
- Uncertainty surrounding upcoming interface changes
Purely as an operating system, Android TV has much to offer.
In this instance, it’s fairly easy to reach a conclusion as far as Android TV versus Google Chromecast. The Google Chromecast stands out in its own right as a versatile and affordable streaming media device.
Meanwhile, Android TV is a rock-solid operating system. Compatible with a plethora of digital media players, it’s also the basis for the Chromecast’s costlier but still largely affordable sibling, the Chromecast with Google TV.
Accordingly, the Chromecast with Google TV offers both simplicity and affordability. On the other hand, the Android TV grants buyers a range of benefits, all while unconstrained by hardware. For those looking to get the best of both worlds, the Chromecast with Google TV is the obvious choice over the cheaper, entry-level, third-generation Chromecast dongle.
Alternatively, anyone wishing to steer away from both Android TV and Google’s Chromecast range more generally has at least two other options to consider. Chief among these right now are Apple TV and Roku Ultra. Two favorites of CNET as far as high-end streaming devices go, for those looking for something a little more affordable, there’s also the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.