Nine years ago, Google released the first-generation Chromecast for a mere $35. It was a real steal at the time, and now there’s a new version that costs even less and does more. The new Chromecast HD includes the same remote as the more expensive 4K dongle, but it maxes out at HD resolution. It’s hard to argue with the price, though.
This device was previously rumored as part of Google’s upcoming October hardware event, but the company didn’t wait to release it. You can pick up the new streaming dongle from Google and other retailers right now for $30. Physically, the device looks just like the 4K Chromecast with Google TV, save for the “HD” badge on the back. The small, white puck has a short HDMI cable, allowing you to plug it into any TV or monitor with a free port. On the opposite end, there’s a USB-C port for power.
Unlike the previous entry-level Chromecast, the new version has the full Google TV experience. This is still Android, but Google has mostly abandoned the Android TV branding. The interface is based around content, with suggestions on the home screen based on your preferences and subscriptions. When the 4K version debuted the new Google TV interface, Google said it would not show ads on the home screen, but it has since given up on that.
The biggest issue with Google’s older, cheaper Chromecasts was always the lack of a remote. There was no TV interface to speak of — you simply controlled media playback with a connected phone. However, a physical remote is just easier sometimes, and the new $30 Chromecast HD has one. It’s the same remote that comes with the 4K Chromecast, featuring programmable buttons, shortcuts for YouTube and Netflix, and built-in Google Assistant. Although, you should be gentle with it. I’ve gone through two Chromecast remotes since the 4K version launched in 2020.
The new Chromecast HD maxes out at 1080p, but it does support HDR and the relatively new AV1 video codec — the latter is something that even the 4K version doesn’t have. However, there’s no Dolby Atmos support. Like its more expensive predecessor, you won’t be able to do uncompressed audio sources like TrueHD Atmos and DTS. Still, for just $30, this seems like a fine way to upgrade that old 1080p set you’ve got in the guest room. If you’re thinking about a 4K upgrade, though, you might as well spend the extra $20 on the 4K Chromecast with Google TV.
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