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Chromecast with Google TV: My Review 0 Recommended Answers 20 Replies 146 Upvotes
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I've expressed many of these thoughts in separate threads and I've combined these thoughts and others into one review :) 

I feel like the Chromecast with Google TV has potential! The hardware is great for the price. The OS looks great. The vision however, falls short at this time. 


Browse content across your apps? Well, not many of them...

Chromecast with Google TV claims:

  • "Browse content from across your apps, intelligently organized just for you." 
  • "TV personalized for you. Movies and shows are grouped in ways that reflect your interests."
  • "Find whatever you’re looking for. Ask Google to quickly search for content across apps and services."

For me, this was the biggest selling point of Google TV. I have used apps like Just Watch and Reelgood which browse and search across other services and apps. I was under the impression that Google TV would do it better. However that is not the case. 

Many apps are not fully supported and integrated into the browsing system. Titles hosted by these services/apps won’t display in the “For you” section, they won’t appear in searches, and they can’t be added to your Google TV watchlist. 

Some of the popular apps not integrated in the browsing include:

  • Peacock
  • Philo
  • PLEX
  • Pluto TV
  • VUDU
  • XUMO

Those apps I mentioned before, such as Reelgood and Just Watch support more services for browsing than Google TV. 


Search is not personalized

Aside from not seeing the apps I use when performing searches, I also get results for everything I don’t use. There is currently no way to narrow a search to just my apps/services. An option to confine the search to apps installed would be very helpful. 

And even if I search “sci fi movies” and then click the “free” filter, I will still get results for Hulu and other apps I don’t use, because those titles are technically free…if you’re subscribed (and I am not).

But again, it doesn’t search across all of my apps as it claims it does, so the results can be very misleading. When you see something that is only available to rent or buy—not so fast! Search Peacock, Pluto TV, XUMO, VUDO, etc. all separately because it might be there! 


Recommendations are broken

Choosing “Your Services” under “Get better recommendations” doesn’t work. Not only does it not list all services here, but even when I have certain services deselected, such as Sling or Viki, they still display in my recommendations. And I’m not talking about the main featured scroller, or the “Trending on Google” category, I’m talking about the categories specific to me. 

Unlike Android TV, this list is more incomplete. There are things not found here, that thankfully work when installed, such as Tubi and Crackle. On Android TV, Tubi and Crackle are in this list. Also XUMO on Android TV is in this list and XUMO displays in the browsing results on Android TV, but not on Google TV. That’s just one example. 

There should also be a way to define recommendations further. I understand Google wants to remove the startup steps of the user choosing genres, but at least give the option to adjust these later. And adding these options under “Get better recommendations” would be the perfect place. 

Having an editable list of what Google TV thinks the recommendations should be with options to “stop showing this recommendation” would be handy. The reliance on Google TV to learn and make recommendations without the ability to edit means it needs to be perfect, and it is far from it.


Can’t switch/toggle Google accounts

Google TV allows you to login several Google accounts for your household, but you can’t switch between them. So if you want to view your personal watchlist, your personal recommendations, or your personal library… you can’t just toggle the accounts. You have to remove the primary account and make that other account the primary. It is not a reasonable workaround.

Adding the ability to toggle accounts would also theoretically remove the workaround of needing to logout and login to different accounts from within YouTube and YouTube TV. You would simply just toggle the Google user account at the Google TV level.


Left sidebar is gone

Android TV has the left sidebar, which includes an ‘Apps’ button to quickly access all of your apps. On Google TV, which omits the sidebar, you need to scroll all the way to the right, to the end of the apps, to then select ‘see all’. 

While the combined recommendations may come in handy in the future when they work better, it was also very handy with Android TV to be able to view recommendations and new releases per app. And via the sidebar on Android TV, you could reorganize the order of these. So it would be great to have an option to turn on the sidebar.


Is the Live Channels app supported? Will it be fixed?

It can be installed, but it doesn’t appear alongside other apps. It can only be opened via voice command (or visiting Apps under Settings, or Apps in the store).

There is also an issue adding some channels, where the issue doesn’t exist on Android TV. For instance, on my Nexus Player, I had no problem adding XUMO to Live Channels, but on Google TV, it will not add XUMO to Live Channels.


Library tab could be expanded

Currently the Library tab includes your Watchlist and movies/shows synced with Google Play Movies (or “Google TV” as it is now).

It would be great if libraries from other services could be combined here, such as VUDU. Movies Anywhere is only a partial solution, as it only syncs movies by certain film production companies to your Google account. It would also be cool if music libraries could be displayed here as well.


Conclusion

I hope updates are planned and support for these apps are coming. I shouldn’t have to still be using apps like Reelgood to browse across more of my apps. I was under the impression with all of the hype with the Google TV announcement about browsing across apps, that at the very least, any app that could be installed onto Google TV at this time would be supported. I assumed Google TV would do a better job.

Having an incomplete browsing experience, a watchlist that still isn’t inclusive of most apps, means it’s back to searching by app and creating watchlists by app if I want to be sure to keep track of things. Maybe I’m better off just maintaining a spreadsheet? Lol

That said, the hardware and interface are great and make it seem very promising. If these features and shortcomings can be addressed to help fully realize the vision, it could be something very cool. Being able to simply pick up my remote and press the Google Assistant button to “turn on the lights” has been very handy. Previously, I only had several first gen Chromecasts and a Nexus Player, so it’s nice now having TVs I can add to my speaker groups. 

There’s lots of upgrades to what I had before. However, the Android TV experience on the Nexus Player, which I still use, feels better. Google TV feels like a stripped-down version of that by removing so much of the personalization (such as the left sidebar). It feels like a Android TV “Lite” version. 

The combined recommendations is a great concept, but I feel it should be something in addition to, not something looking to replace the way you can browse on Android TV. Because on its own, it needs to be incredibly smart and inclusive of all apps—and it is not. It could instead just be a “browse all apps” function later on.

Thanks for listening! :)
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I have found a few other shortfalls of the new Chromecast with Google TV.

Lots of TV apps are not available as yet here in the UK, NOW TV, All 4 etc.

But I have to say the biggest let down as far as I'm concerned is the way the chromecast integrates with other Google /nest products, or lack of integration should I say.

I can ask the chromecast to show front door (nest hello) with is does, but when someone presses the doorbell the cam view does not appear on the screen as it does with a home hub, nor can I actually answer the doorbell through the TV with the chromecast.

Trying to install the nest app was also a complete failure, as the app will only allow login into a nest account, bot the migrated to Google login account.  For a software company, there are lots of software issues that would make the chromecast with Google TV a much better device, but it seems that Google hasn't bothered with them.

Given how long it took Google to bring a streaming device to market to rival the firestick and Apple TV I would have thought they would have put the effort in to make it a killer device from launch day.

A very disappointed Google (ex) fan
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Very nice review. I too am an early adopted and feel somewhat disappointed by the service. I want to add an important app to your list of not supported apps. That's AT&T TV. It isn't even available for download in Play Store. You have to sideload it. 

Something else that doesn't function properly is the integration with my Samsung soundbar. Sure, it detects it ok the first attempt, but two things aren't implemented properly:
1) The power button on the Chromecast remote turns off my Hisense TV, but not my Samsung soundbar. 
2) The volume rocker on the Chromecast remote seems to work idependently from the volume in the soundbar. It's basically like volume on top of the soundbar volume, meaning you can even take it to 0 and the soundbar is not at zero. With the "newer" FireTV's, pressing the volume buttons on the remote actually change the volume on the soundbar, you see the numbers on the soundbar screen go up and down. Much better implementation.

SEE MY NEXT REPLY BELOW FOR AN UPDATE.
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The hardware is great, the concept is great. But the execution is flawed. This device is not yet ready for prime time.

Another failure not already mentioned is the lack of a Continued Watching section. It is right there on the Google TV mobile app, but it is nowhere to be found on CC/GTV. Fire TV has it, easily accessible from the home page.

The lack of any integrated Live TV guide is ridiculous. Fire TV has that.

Previous poster is correct that Reelgood app (available on Fire TV and CC/GTV) is much better with third-party app integration. 

I find the CC/GTV interface a jumbled mess right now. So much useless stuff on the screen, crowding out the truly useful. I thought Fire TV interface was jumbled and confusing. It's a streamlined, well-oiled machine compared to what Google is offering at the moment.

I'm sticking with Fire TV Stick as my go-to device for the time being. Will check back frequently to see if Google has streamlined somewhat. Am looking forward to have an OS that does what it wants to do better than a third-party app does.
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Ray all of those issues are due to you not setting it or your TV correctly. All works fine for me. Controlled my amp volume and powers on and off all devices
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Ray, thanks for the heads up on AT&T TV. Being unsupported at all would be a slightly different list than mine though. My list outlines apps that install, but don't integrate with Google TV's search and browsing results...

Scott, I agree about the Continue Watching section. I think I talked about it in another thread and mentioned exactly what you have here—that it appears more complete on the mobile app. Although it's broken there because it thinks I need to continue watching my entire watch history lol...It appears it thinks I finish nothing. Maybe something wrong with the algorithm to remove something from a list when it's finished or has just a few minutes left. Another thing is the mobile app shows Pluto TV and other apps in the Continue Watching section, the browse results, etc. but not on the Chromecast. I wonder how closely these teams are working together?

For as long as this has been under development (I began seeing mentions in March), I'm very surprised at how underdeveloped it is. I still have a Nexus Player from 2014 that is currently a better experience. Live Channels works on it properly and more apps are supported in the browsing. Most people overlook the Nexus Player when considering this Chromecast as Google's first entry into the Android TV market with a remote, aside from the fact of Google developing Android TV for use on other devices for years. So this isn't like a brand new realm they've entered into—there shouldn't be so many shortcomings and growing pains.

It's nearing a month since release and there hasn't been any big updates or many fixes. Hoping that changes! :)
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There is another point I would like to add, the main reason for me to finally buy a Chromecast was that I was expecting to be able to cast YouTube audio to all my audio group, made of 2 Google Homes, 1 Google Nest Mini and 1 Nest Hub. To my surprise, if I'm watching a YouTube video and ask the Assistant to "cast to party", it just stuck forever and the only thing I can do is cancel to command using the remote.
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Anybody else having issues with Cast on the new chromecast or is it just me? It like to get stuck in the app that the cast is through and not switch to cast mode.
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Does anyone know if it can it remember more than one SSID? I'd like be able to use it in the house via my router and then in my campervan via my phone hotspot.
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Great feedback!  My only observation is why do I need another remote?
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For me, the suggestions for shows/movies on apps I have uninstalled is the biggest disappointment. At the moment, the featured shows on the "For you" tab suggest shows on Disney+, a service I have not subscribed to nor have linked to my Google account -- I even have uninstalled the app from my device.

@jowii already mentioned it in its thorough review: an option to confine the searches and suggestions to installed applications and linked services would be more than welcome.
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