Choosing between the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) and the Chromecast with Google TV (4K) streaming players is not as hard as it could be. After all, the two streaming players are more alike than different with the differences mainly boiling down to two things – the price and the resolution. Once a household decides on these two points, the decision of which Chromecast to buy has already been made.
While most devices tend to release in a HD version followed by a 4K version, the opposite was the case with the Chromecast with Google TV. The 4K model launched back in September 2020 while the HD version only arrived in September of 2022. Of course, Google has offered a line of Chromecast devices for years now, but the Chromecast with Google TV is a completely different and much improved product.
The first thing to note about the two Chromecast devices is that they look exactly the same. If the design of a streaming player matters, then this is not an area where consumers will need to make a decision. That said, if the color matters, then that’s a different story. While the original Chromecast with Google TV can be purchased in Sky, Sunrise, and Snow colors, the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) can only be purchased in Snow. Otherwise, they look exactly the same, are exactly the same size, and weigh exactly the same.
Choosing based on the resolution
What is arguably the biggest difference between the two Chromecast models is the resolution support. The original and older model is a 4K HDR streaming player with support for up to 60 FPS. While the newer HD model does also support up to 60 FPS, the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) resolution is limited to 1080p.
Whether this matters in real-world usage will depend on the home, the existing streaming setup, and the streaming services that household members use. In reality, most streaming services either don’t offer 4K content or very few titles compared to their full library. The same is also currently true with live TV streaming services considering most either only offer a select few channels/programs in 4K and/or charge extra to watch in 4K. In this sense, many homes may find that the up to 4K support offered by the original Chromecast with Google TV is unnecessary.
Then again, if a home routinely rents or buys movies and shows to stream over the internet, and has the internet connection to support 4K streaming, then the original Chromecast with Google TV could be the better buy. Likewise, if already paying a premium for watch 4K live TV channels, then it makes sense to buy a hardware device that is capable of delivering those channels in 4K.
For reference, the older Chromecast with Google TV 4K also supports Dolby Vision, while the newer HD version does not. Just like with 4K, if a home wants Dolby Vision, and has the rest of a setup to facilitate the advanced HDR version, then the older Chromecast with Google TV is going to be the better buy.
Choosing based on the price
This is, of course, an automatic win for the Chromecast with Google TV (HD). As is typically the case with resolution, the higher it is, the more expensive the service or product is, and the Chromecast with Google TV is no exception. The Chromecast with Google TV (4K) is priced at $49.99 on the Google Store. Even though the 4K model is approximately two years older than the HD version, the newer Chromecast with Google TV is priced at just $29.99. Needless to say, if the cost is a concern then the HD model is the one to go for.
If looking further afield than Google, how do these prices compare to the competition? Well, when it comes to the 1080p version, the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) is very competitive. At the $29.99 price point, it directly goes up against the Fire TV Stick Lite ($29.99 on Amazon) and the Roku Express ($29.99 at Roku). Considering both of these $30 devices also don’t come with 4K support, they are as limited in resolution as the $29.99 Chromecast with Google TV.
When it comes to the 4K model, things are a little more complicated. At $49.99, the older Chromecast is not a particularly expensive purchase and especially considering it is a 4K product. The Fire TV Stick 4K ($49.99 at Amazon) is Amazon’s cheapest 4K streaming stick. The Roku Express 4K+ ($39.99 at Roku) is also a 4K streaming player, and $10 cheaper than the Chromecast with Google TV (4K). While some may prefer the general design of Google’s player, it is possible to pick up a competing product from a major rival for cheaper. Barring any limited-time price drops, or refurbished models, that’s not quite the case with the Chromecast with Google TV (HD).
Chromecast with Google TV 4K or HD: summary
In reality, the choice between the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) and the Chromecast with Google TV (4K) comes down to the price and the resolution. For those that don’t particularly need or want the ability to stream in 4K (and/or Dolby Vision), then there’s no real reason to pay extra for the Chromecast with Google TV 4K. The two players run on the same Google TV interface, come bundled with the same voice-enabled remote, and even share an identical design and build quality. The only reason to consider the more expensive model is if 4K is a must-have feature.