The best Chromecast devices 2021: Google's current Cast products explained

Get music and movies up on a bigger screen with the best Chromecast devices

Chromecast with Google TV review
(Image credit: Google)

The Google Chromecast seemed like an unassuming little device when it arrived in 2013, but in the years since it's transformed the way a lot of us watch movies and shows. The best Chromecast devices make it easy to send content from your Android phone to any of the best TVs.

Over the year, Chromecast devices have come and gone, and while there were many on the market at one point, all with different specialities, at the moment Google has reduced the range down to just two options.

Both are designed around video rather than audio, featuring HDMI connections to connect to screens or projectors, but the two have slightly different features, which means they're different prices.

But that doesn't mean these are the only devices you can Cast to, however. The reason Google makes fewer Chromecast options these days is how well it's done at persuading other manufacturers to build the features into the products.

If you look at our guide to the best TVs, for example, many have the option included – and that includes budget models, such as the best TVs under £1000 or best TVs under $1000.

The best smart speakers that have Google Assistant built in can be Cast to, as can many of the best wireless speakers. You'll even find that some of the best soundbars have Chromecast streaming built in.

So while we're just focusing on the Google-made Chromecast-named devices here, check out those guides for more Cast-ready gadgets!

The best Chromecast devices 2021

Google Chromecast with Google TV device on white background

(Image credit: Google)

1. Chromecast with Google TV

The best Chromecast device for smart TV features

Specifications
Resolution: 4K Ultra HD
HDR support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+
Connectivity: HDMI, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+Full smart TV features+Great format support
Reasons to avoid
-You may not need all these features

Unlike old Chromecast devices that were just for streaming to from your phone, this is a standalone smart TV device, with its own software. It's powered by Android TV, with the new Google TV interface, which is really easy to use and intuitive. It's packed with streaming apps, so is a great option if you're looking to add more services to a TV that doesn't have what you want built in.

With 4K HDR support too, it's a bit of a home cinema powerhouse – it looks great, and supports all major formats. Dolby Atmos audio is supported too.

It also works like previous Chromecasts, in that you can just beam things to it from other devices. It's just more focused at being a smart TV upgrade.

Google Chromecast on white background


2. Chromecast

The best Chromecast device for those on a budget

Specifications
Resolution: 1080p Full HD
HDR support: No
Connectivity: HDMI, Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Reasons to buy
+Simple, reliable streaming+Won't cost you much
Reasons to avoid
-No 4K support

This is more like the classic Chromecasts: you have the ability to cast audio and video content over to a big TV from dozens and dozens of apps across Android and iOS. And that's it! No remote control, no built-in software. It's great for a low-cost upgrade to a TV you want to stream to sometimes, or for presenting to screens in an office.

You don't get 4K support here (just 1920x1080 Full HD), so there's an upper limit on quality. Similarly, there's no HDR support, so you'll get a better quality of stream from, say, Netflix on the Google TV model above than this one, if that's important to you.

But for just turning a dumb screen into one you can stream to, this absolutely does the trick.

David Nield
David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.