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Apple TV 4K (2021) vs Chromecast with Google TV: Which media streamer should you buy?

Apple has refreshed the Apple TV 4K hardware for the first time since 2017, but it now faces a fresh challenge from the Chromecast with Google TV. Which media streaming device is the best?

The interminable Apple vs Google battle returned to the biggest screen in the house with news of an Apple TV 4K update at April 20’s Spring Loaded event.

Apple’s long overdue refresh (it’s been nearly four years) arrives at a much higher price point than Google’s model, with both devices offering 4K HDR support, a massive suite of apps, games and services, as well voice controls from the respective digital assistants.

However, Apple promises plenty of sheen for its army of supporters and more powerful processors. Which device has the edge? Lets check out the tale of the tape.

Wisecrackers pointed out you could get a Chromecast with Google TV dongle for less than the price the brand new Siri Remote alone. Apple is asking £55/$55 for the new Siri Remote when buying on its own, whereas the Chromecast with Google TV is £50/$50.

Apple continues to demand top dollar for the Apple TV 4K. The Apple TV 4K 32GB is £169/$179, while the 64GB model is £189/$199. That’s a massive difference. You can put a Chromecast in every room for the price of one 64GB Apple TV 4K model.

However, Apple would argue, the advanced tech within the Apple TV 4K 2021, the powerful A12 processor, as well as the capacious storage options makes its model worthy of the price tag. We’re not so sure.

Apple is pretty pleased with the new Siri Remote, which looks to be an improvement over its fiddly predecessor. The click pad is now more responsive and the new outer ring makes it easier to scan through content. The Siri button is now on the right side of the remote, while the remote can also be used to turn the TV on/off, while muting/unmuting the audio.

The new Apple Siri remote

The current model is the first Chromecast to have a remote and it’s actually pretty similar to Apple’s offering in many ways. There’s a Google Assistant button as well as power/sound on/off buttons. Google has added dedicated buttons for YouTube and Netflix. We’re not sure huge fans of that, but some seem to like them for faster access to those services.

Overall, there’s not a lot to choose between the two remotes, but Apple’s is made from more premium materials (a single piece of aluminium) compared to the plastic Google offering. Both remotes are powered by Bluetooth 5.0 so there are no issues with line of sight, like a standard TV remote. Apple’s remote is recharged by a Lightning cable, but you’ll need the trusty AAAs for the Google remote.

Apple is putting its best food forward here. Naturally, its new Apple TV 4K box supports ultra high definition video, which maxes out a 60fps. HDR support is available through HDR10, Dolby Vision and the HDR High Frame Rate tech. Apple also says users will be able to use sensors within their iPhone to optimise the colour balance of the television set and, for audiophiles, there’s support for the Dolby Atmos 3D audio tech.

Likewise, the Google model offers 4K HDR at 60fps, which includes Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HDR10+ support. There’s also support for the Dolby Atmos immersive audio tech. Whereas Apple has its AirPlay 2 tech for casing from iOS, iPadOS and Mac devices, Google provides the same via its Chromecast tech that’s available on a massive array of devices, apps and websites. Either way, there’s plenty of ways to share media to the biggest screen.

Both Apple and Google supports the all-important new HDMI 2.1 tech right out of the box. Apple TV 4K (2021) retains its Ethernet port, while Google TV requires a separate $20 adapter for wired connections, which may help you justify some of the additional cash for Apple’s offering. You’ll get dual-band Wi-Fi from both.

chromecast with google tv

Apple’s tvOS is better than ever and not just because of the aforementioned AirPlay 2 tech. HomeKit is built in to the new Apple TV, enabling voice control of smart home gadgets, while there’s also newer features like picture-in-picture and an improved control centre. Naturally, there’s a focus around the company’s own services with Apple Arcade (there’s support for PS5 and Xbox Series X controllers) and Apple TV. However, you’ll be able to access a massive suite of apps from the App Store for your favourite streaming apps and more.

Essentially powered by Android, the Google TV offering is a reskinned and retooled user interface for the first Chromecast to go in this direction. Our reviewer believes the UI still needs a little bit of work, but it’s still loaded with the best of the Play Store. Integration with Nest smart home devices and other Google Assistant compatible smart home tech is also included. Strangely the Google Stadia cloud gaming platform isn’t supported natively. And yes, you can access Apple TV+ and Ted Lasso.

Apple is sticking with its trusty black ‘hockey puck’ design for this iterative update, which naturally plugs into the television set via HDMI. That makes it a little bit harder to hide than the Chromecast model, which has a short HDMI cable enabling its small form factor to hide behind the telly pretty well overall.

Google’s model is powered by USB-C, while Apple goes for the more traditional figure 8 connector. Google offers Snow, Sunrise and Sky colours, but Apple is back in black once again.

Have an Android phone and prefer Google services and operating systems? It’s the Chromecast with Google TV. At just £50 notes, it’s also the choice if you’re looking to get a little more bang for your buck. Apple users may feel this way too, given the ubiquitousness of Google-compatibility these days. However, if you’re an Apple homer, who doesn’t mind paying a little bit over the odds to stay within the ecosystem and enjoy that consistency, the expensive Apple TV 4K (2021) is the streaming box for you.

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