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

Close up of Chromecast device plugged into TV with blurred couple on sofa in the background
(Image credit: Google)

The best Chromecast devices make it easy to send content from your Android phone to any of the best TVs. Chromecast may be little, but it's had a big impact on the way many of us watch movies and TV shows. 

The range of Chromecast devices has ebbed and flowed since the first model shipped in 2013. Sometimes it's felt like Chromecast were everywhere, and then the number of models would reduce again. At the moment, Google only offers two options.

The reason Google only makes two Chromecasts is simple: having established the technology, Google no longer needs to add it to many devices because other manufacturers have embraced the tech too. Many of the best TVs have Chromecast built-in, including budget models you'll find in our guides to the best TVs under £1000 or best TVs under $1000.

Many of the best smart speakers with Google Assistant built-in can be Cast to, and the same applies to many of the best wireless speakers and some of the best soundbars. But for the purpose of this guide, we'll stick solely with Google's dynamic duo.

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.