We had been using Chromecast with Google TV until recently when the remote crapped out and we were unable to re-pair it. Can use phone as a remote, but decided to switch to the Roku Smart TV instead. The main reason we were using the Chromecast was to get HBO Max but that channel has been available on Roku for awhile.
Apparently, we’re not alone in experiencing technical issues with the new Chromecast.
Again, this little streamer was doing great in October, but the software experience has fallen apart in the months since, causing the hardware compromises Google made regarding the storage, RAM, and USB-C port to be more visible than ever. If you’re using the Chromecast with Google TV with a 1080p TV and don’t mind using 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi, you probably aren’t seeing much of any issues, but the more advanced your TV and your network setup, the less likely you are to have a good time here.
Am sure we’ll try and update and repair the remote again someday, but for the time being, just less hassle and easier to stick with Roku again. The only channel we have to switch away is for Peacock, since we have the separate Flex box. If we wanted to go through with the effort of just adding the Peacock app we could have all the channels on Roku — which would be best for convenience.
After a few months using Chromecast, I prefer that menu to Roku. Liked the recommendations and layout a little better. We’ve been using Roku for a long time, though, so that’s a familiar menu system.
One disturbing thing I’ve noticed about our smart Roku TV is it seems to suffer a lot of latency issues. Despite having high speed internet and being plugged in via ethernet, not sure why the latency is there. This wasn’t present with our Roku 3 streaming device. It’s noticeable and annoying.
This one doesn’t make much sense to me — from a customer service standpoint. Then again, companies that torpedo themselves usually often do so over control. When they try to control what we — their customers — like too much, then it drives us away. Sometimes to their peril.
(remember Quibi? They didn’t let us cast what was on our phones to TV)
More context is in order.
We’ve been quietly using Chromecast with Google TV over Roku since it launched. In fact, on our new 65″ 4K TV we don’t even have all our streaming account logins on Roku, but are on Chromecast with Google TV.
None of that explains why the new Chromecast with Google TV launched with Netflix integration in the first place, only to have it hobbled later, but my attempts to get answers from either company yielded nothing of substance. Google simply said that the level of integration on the new Chromecast can vary by partner, and Netflix said it’s trying to ensure a consistent experience across devices.
It’s puzzling that Netflix is limited the interaction with the relevant search on Chromecast, as this is a somewhat useful tab to see what’s playing across all the services.
Also, odd is the remote actually has a Netflix button. I’m sure the remote can be reprogrammed to point to something else, but Netflix is getting equal billing alongside YouTube on the remote when no other streaming service has a dedicated button. Clearly, Google wanted to promote Netflix as a primary streaming channel and to have all the Netflix Originals showing up in the relevant search. Netflix messing with this interaction for Google TV users seems very misguided to me.
It seems Netflix wants as much viewing behavior contained on their application, so they can graph and research subscriber activity, but they have viewing stats once the subscriber comes to their platform to view the title. How they got there is a little like saying, we want to know how you drove your car to our store, what roads you took, when you left, etc. It’s extraneous.
Conversely, Google wants to do much the same and sell our time using their apps. That’s how they make money. Our usage patterns are quietly creating the future of artificial intelligence.
A new Chromecast just launched from Google officially on September 30. They are going after Roku competitively by including a remote and a menu a la Android TV. The device offers 4K and is priced at $49.99 USD.
A limited promotion is being offered for those interested in paying for at least one month of YouTubeTV ($64.99 USD).
Google is giving away a free Chromecast with Google TV device to everyone that signs up for YouTube TV before the end of the year. As the terms of the deal explain, you need to be a first-time subscriber to the streaming TV service to take advantage of the offer, and at least one monthly payment has to be processed between October 15th and December 31st, 2020. This offer is only available to US residents.
We haven’t tried YouTubeTV but with the election coverage, NFL sports in action and the end nearing of the baseball season, this is a good time to have a month of live TV. We’re probably going to go in on this deal.
On Thursday we went around to a few local stores (Walmart, Best Buy, Target) and nobody had the new Chromecast + TV in stock yet. We already own the Chromecast Ultra (see: Tired of Waiting For Roku, 7+ Year Customer Buys Chromecast Ultra to Stream HBO Max to TV) but the downside to that is having to use your phone. Kara has never liked it and I’ve had a hard time getting used to the phone as a remote. It’s a good idea in theory, but it’s just not as handy as having a remote and using a Roku-style menu on the TV.
Glad to see this new version of Chromecast. Are you interested? Happy with Roku? Or using something else?
Something I used to do from time to time on my tech blog: ask people how they use their home screens on their desktop and laptop computers.
It was illuminating learning what other apps were being used and how they were organized. Sometimes I’d learn about useful apps and programs I didn’t even realize existed.
In the streaming channels world we live in today, July 2020, especially under the You Know What times, maybe your setup is better than ours? Always curious to look at how others are watching streaming channels, how much they are using a particular service, app, interface, etc. It could be personal preference, it could also provide unseen or little known benefits to others. Sharing, in this regard, is helpful and good.
Here’s how our setup at home currently works. I’m not saying it’s the best for others or even us, but it’s what we’re doing in July 2020.
We currently have three ways to access streaming channels through the TV: Roku (both attached device Roku 3 and a Roku-powered TV), Xfinity Flex and Chromecast.
We also have game systems hooked up to the TV: Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. The Playstation and Xbox both have ways to watch streaming channels, but we don’t use those devices as portals very often or not at all.
The majority of streaming we do is through the Roku 3 box attached to the TV. I’d put the number at 80%. The other 20% would be mostly Chromecast for HBO Max and a small amount for Flex and Peacock. Less than 5% would be Peacock. If HBO Max was on ROKU, we’d probably be 90-95%+ Roku for watching streaming on TV.
A year from now? Who knows. Maybe some killer new way to watch streaming channels will be available that overtakes Roku in convenience and usability. Right now? They are king of the hill in our home.
We have paid subscriptions as of this writing to: Netflix (monthly), Amazon Prime Video (annual), Disney+ (annual), DC Universe (monthly), HBO Max (monthly), hulu (monthly, just restarted a couple days ago), CBS All Access (monthly), Shudder (monthly, but canceled and access ends soon). We used a free trial (my son, actually) for AppletTV+ to watch Greyhound, but that week ends soon and we’re not renewing. Quibi we did the free 90 day trial but didn’t renew.
I think that covers the major streaming services. We don’t have TV, not Sling TV, Hulu TV, YouTubeTV, etc. None of them. The only live TV programming we can access are local channels through locast (a Roku channel) and if any of the premium channels provide live TV channels (some do, like CBS All Access). We do watch some live horse racing through TVG (Roku channel), have an account, but don’t pay for a subscription.
Really the only live TV I miss are occasional news programs, some special live programming and some sporting events. I used to love the NFL Sunday Ticket on DirectTV when we could access that, but that’s been many years ago. I probably will be more interested in live TV when the presidential race begins in the fall. Might consider adding on TV coverage for a couple months during this time if we can’t get through locast.
We rotate around paid subscriptions, including to premium add-on channels like Starz, Showtime and Cinemax, but are subscribed to none of these at the moment. HBO used to be in that mix, but right now we’re with HBO Max and have quite a bit we want to watch there, so we’ll be keeping that awhile. Since we are Xfinity internet customers, we have a free Flex box and get the $4.99/month Peacock streaming service available at no additional monthly charge.
Roku 3 attached to HDMI
Amazon Prime Video
HBO Now (for portion of HBO content)
CBS All Access
Google Play Movies & TV
Classic Movies & TV
The order is how often we watch the various channels, with perhaps the exception of Spotify for music. Don’t really “watch” that, but when listening to music through the TV that’s used more than some of the others above it.
Xfinity Flex – Peacock
There are applications for the Xfinity Flex box to stream other channels, but currently we only use Flex to watch Peacock. We could use this as an alternative box to Roku, and I’m sure that’s what Xfinity/Comcast is hoping we’ll do, but that’s not what’s happening.
It’s just easier and force of habit to switch the input and go back to Roku. It would probably take less than 15 minutes to hook up all our accounts through Flex, and probably someday we’ll be inspired to do that, but the reality is once you have all your logins setup with one service, do you really want to take the time and input them through another service?
This is a fairly new service we picked up in May as a means to be able to access HBO Max. I like the service, but honestly, it still feels a bit unwieldy using this over Roku. I prefer having one menu and a remote over using my phone as a remote. Am not saying using the phone isn’t a good idea, but definitely not my wife has any interest in using the phone to cast to TV — she wants to use the remote — and I’m in the same boat.
Also, I realize there are ways to use Chromecast with third party services to have a menu and user interface on the TV. We haven’t explored any of those, but I know they exist.
In our case, it wouldn’t make much sense to have three different services with menus with most/all the same underlying streaming services.
Anyway, let’s look at how the apps on my Samsung Note 10+ phone are arranged. They aren’t 100% in the order of most watched (HBO Max is the most watched streaming app for us through Chromecast, not Netflix), but the order of the icons is what is being used as of this writing.
Amazon Prime Video
CBS All Access
Shudder (subscription expires end of July 2020)
Quibi (not currently subscribed)
Peacock (not being used)
Regal’s app doesn’t have any streaming, it’s used for our unlimited monthly pass, currently in hiatus since the theaters are closed. They are still saying on their website that they will reopen on July 31, but I think chances are at best a coin flip this will actually happen. If they do reopen, we plan to visit the theaters again.
Even though I have apps installed for Chromecasting, HBO Max is the only app I use. When I made a video about using Chromecast last month, someone commented that it was bad timing buying a Chromecast when there was a new version coming out soon. The point was I wanted to watch HBO Max on launch day, May 15, not in the future. NVidia Shield Pro was another device the commenter recommended.
Since buying the Chromecast Ultra, I did more investigation and found another device of interest that included a Roku-like menu option, 4K support (although reviews say it is very sluggish for the price), games, remote and cost about the same as the Chromecast Ultra. I don’t know how good or bad it is, but I like the feature set, it’s called: Xiaomi Mi Box S.
I might pick one of those up and give it a try in place of Chromecast since it seems to give me everything I’m looking for: a remote (with voice control), a Roku-like menu, Chromecast. It does have some sound limitations though (no Dolby Atmos).
I also haven’t mentioned the Amazon Fire Stick. Because HBO Max isn’t on that, it doesn’t check all of our boxes.
As for Nvidia Shield Pro? That badboy retails for $200 and seems more gaming-focused than streaming service oriented, but since it was recommended by somebody watching our video, I might research that more as well.
One Technical Solution To Fit All
Bottom line is we’d like one device that has all the features we use (remote, menu, voice search is bonus, though we don’t use that often) and most importantly all the streaming services we subscribe to. Peacock is available as an app, but haven’t set it up yet. Is the experience as good as going through the Flex box? Don’t know. HBO Max is available for Chromecast, but it’s not as friendly as clicking an icon on the TV and watching, which is what we want.
What are you using to watch streaming channels on your TV?
Your turn. I’m very curious how others are watching streaming channels on their TV.
This post will be repeated in the future because our subscriptions do change as well as the hardware used. Admittedly we’ve been using the Roku 3 pretty much since it came out and been very happy with it. What are you using? A Roku-powered TV? Chromecast? A gaming system(s)? Amazon Fire Stick? AppleTV? Cast from your computer to TV? Two cups and some string?
So many different ways to watch streaming channels on our television sets. What do you use most, why and what are your most watched streaming services?
Today, I said goodbye to Roku for Google Chromecast. After tax this cost me $65 and some change. I could and would have bought a new Roku device if they could have offered the same streaming channels, but their inability to close a deal with channels I pay to subscribe to was enough to look elsewhere.
Think about that. You have a service that involves aggregating channels and you don’t have every channel you possibly can have on your service? Instead, as a customer I’m toted as advertising bait, but not important enough to give me all the channels? Sorry, that just rubs me all kinds of the wrong way.
Ok, so it’s not literally goodbye, as our beloved Roku 3 is still hooked up to the TV, but I’ve begun the process to combine the most streaming services onto a single streaming device. It’s just less complex to do it this way. My wife doesn’t want to switch between multiple devices to watch TV or movies, she doesn’t care. I’m going to have to download all the apps on her phone, which is a bit of an annoyance, but then she can click what she wants to watch on her phone and the cast button and watch away. Not sure how she’ll take to this process … but hey, it’s a work in progress.
The two lagging services I couldn’t cast to TV thanks to avarice (HBO Max + Roku) and stupidity (Quibi) are both available — right now — on Chromecast. Also, every other paid streaming service we currently subscribe to including: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, DC Universe and Shudder. They all work on Chromecast.
Next month when Peacock goes full launch, they will support Chromecast, too. Bing!
Arnold-Commando would say, deadpanned, to Roku, “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last? I lied.”
…part of the Chromecast’s appeal lies in its portability and ease of use; just plug in, connect to Wi-Fi, and you’ll be streaming Netflix, Spotify, HBO, Hulu, and more from your mobile device or PC to the TV in no time. Not to mention apps for music, working out, and catching up on sports.
Speaking of Arnold-Terminator, will I be back to Roku? Maybe.
One sacrifice will be The Roku Channel. Not that I watched it very much, but that does not appear (somebody let me know in the comments if there is a workaround, please) available on Chromecast. I can live with switching over to Roku once in a blue moon to watch that.
How about the other free channels? Tubi, Pluto TV, Xumo? Yes, all available on Chromecast.
One thing early on — and given this is really early on — that I like about Chromecast is I can set what I want to watch and then go do something else on my phone. I couldn’t do that while watching HBO Max as cast to TV option before (see: HBO Max to Roku Cast To TV Microsoft Windows Workaround), which was a bummer. So, if someone calls or need to text, it’s pause then unpause. If I want to take pictures with the phone, no problem with Chromecast.
So, while getting used to only using my phone as a remote will be something to work on — they do sell Google Chromecast remotes for people who absolutely must have a remote (I might be one of those, we’ll have to wait and see). More geeky readers can use HDMI-CEC on newer TVs with their existing remotes to control play and pause functionality. I haven’t dug into that yet, but for those interested here’s an article from Android Authority explaining on how to do it.
The thing is that muting and pausing is a little faster with a remote than using the phone. Especially if you keep your phone locked down after X seconds from someone tampering with it or potential pocket dialing and texting.
Speed is everything when you have an incoming call. You’d think that there would be an app that auto-pauses upon receiving a phone call (is there? again, use the comments to let me know).
Anybody reading that already uses Chromecast? We’re newbies. Tips welcome and encouraged in comments below.