Chromecast with Google TV after one week

I would like to review Chromecast with Google TV after using it for about one week.

Device itself

I must say that in my particular case device color look quite bad. I have black TV like 99% of other people and I bought white (because all others were out of stock) Chromecast. And white wires do not look good on black TV background and I cannot hide it well. My TV is on the wall and TV is parallel to room’s entrance and HDMI ports are one that side. As result Chromecast also must be there. Again, while blob on black TV background does not look good at all. Device and cable should be black.

Another slight problem that power supply + USB cable are quite tall. As result even I have power socket behind TV, distance from power socket to power supply with plugged cable is shorter than distance from wall to TV. For example, TV power cable has L shape and allow this configuration. Also, even I plugged power supply to power socket bellow TV it looks bad as cable sticks out of power supply and does not look nice. This power supply looks nice for phone or tablet, but it is not practical in case of TV.

Remote control is also white. From my memory I rarely see any other color for remote controls except black. And I do not know why Google decided to use white color. I am pretty sure that in few months I will have to clean it because it will look dirty. It looks nice, but I think it is not practical.

Remote control is quite small comparing to other remote controls I have. I have iPhone 6 S Plus and it is about 1.5 inches smaller. I read complain that it is too small, but in my average hand it looks totally fine. I can use one hand to access any buttons without “scrolling” remote control up and down. No issues here at all.

Software

UI looks good and it works quite smooth. No delays or something like that. Quite responsive. From visual point of view, it organized quite well. Device starts really fast. Like second or two. Usually I start TV and Chromecast together and TV is always last.

Usability is bad like any other Google application. That means you have found stuff by yourself. Good example is settings that hidden under my profile picture. Not account settings, but system settings. Took me quite some time to find it.

Another example of really bad usability is remapping keys. Chromecast has two buttons: YouTube and Netflix. I do not have Netflix and I rarely use YouTube on TV. And when I do, I usually start it on the phone and then cast it to TV. I was sure that it is possible to assign own application for these keys. It turns out you cannot. But I did search (https://www.techhive.com/article/3584843/15-tips-for-the-chromecast-with-google-tv.html), and I found that it is only possible with some 3rd party app. And these two particular buttons required paid version of that app. Google seriously? I know that Netflix is popular, but there are still a lot of people who do not have it. Why not allow to remap at least this key? I understand about YouTube as Google try to promote their TV service. But second key should be remapped. But I think that perhaps this device is cost more that $50 to produce and perhaps Netflix sponsors it.

I still not fully checked every setting, but by default it does not that user friendly. For example, I started HBO Max app and then Amazon Prime. It would be logical, that there is high chance that next day I will start one of these, because they are streaming services, and they are on TV. But instead device pushing own stuff and HBO Max and Amazon Prime are pretty much last and not easy to access with. Not a big problem but slightly annoying. But I found if you hold Use button it is possible to move app. Also, you can specify what streaming services do you have to reduce visual clutter. But it still showing me Disney+ movies. I had to remove app for Disney+ to remove it. There is also only app mode.

Device is not working well with 5GHz Wi-Fi my OpenWrt router. That router there for quite some time and nobody ever complaining about it. But Chromecast constantly keeps disconnecting from it, so I had to switch to 2.4Ghz. I am still not sure if this is router or Chromecast problem. I am thinking it is Chromecast because I never had any issues with that before. But I still did not rule out router. Today I updated router to latest OpenWrt 19.07.4 and it not able to connect at all to 5GHz Wi-Fi. I will continue to investigate it as my phone works just fine. Preliminary research showing that not able to use all 5GHz channels allowed in US. Looks like bug to me.

Another strange problem with connecting to Wi-Fi that it is displaying password that you type. There is checkbox to hide password, but I do not know how to activate. And considering that big TVs are quite common these days I think it is security issue.

Picture quality

Picture quality is quite good. I am using it with Full HD TV, but picture looks way better than when I used my TV app to watch Amazon Prime. To my eye it looks like we watched Amazon videos using 360p instead of 1080p. Usually when we started watching show, first few seconds quality was quite bad. With time it became better but after comparing with Chromecast I do realize that quality was quite bad. We did watch a lot of old shows and I though it is quality of original materials. And when we started watching the show on Chromecast it looks amazing and never had any issues at all with quality. It was always fast and always Full HD quality.

I believe it could be because TV’s Wi-Fi module is slow or perhaps TV’s CPU is not that fast to cope with amount of data required for 1080p. But difference was quite amazing.

Overall, I am happy with my purchase and even I had few hiccups I do recommend buying it.

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