Ten years is not a bad run in the world of smart devices. That’s how long it’s been since Google released the very first Chromecast, a tiny $35 HDMI dongle that let you wirelessly stream audio and video to your TV, with your phone serving as the remote. We liked it so much when it debuted, we named it the best product of 2013.
Unfortunately, all good things must pass, and 9to5Google recently noticed that Google quietly ended support for the original Chromecast on April 27, 2023, which means it will no longer get any feature or security updates.
This is not to say the device has been rendered useless. If you own one, it will still do everything it did last week. It’s just that going forward, you will begin to see performance problems as the rest of the streaming world continues to evolve and the first-gen Chromecast can’t evolve along with it. And that makes this the right time to consider upgrading.
If you somehow haven’t already upgraded, which streaming device should you get to replace your now slowly decaying dongle? Well, if you like the way the original Chromecast works, we have several suggestions that will feel familiar, yet thoroughly up-to-date.
The awkwardly named Google Chromecast with Google TV — which we’ll just call Chromecast 2020 for simplicity since that’s when it was launched — is the logical successor to not just the first Chromecast, but all other Chromecast models, too (Chromecast Gen 2, Gen 3, and Chromecast Ultra).
The Chromecast 2020 still gives you that magical ability to cast content directly from your phone, tablet, or computer to your TV, but it’s now a full-fledged media streamer complete with its own remote control. Say what you will about the original Chromecast, the lack of a remote could be a serious pain in the behind.
The new version also is fully compatible with the latest audio and video formats including 4K resolution, HDR (HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, and HDR10+), and Dolby Atmos. The 4K version costs $50, which is a bargain considering its capabilities, but if that strikes you as too much to replace a device that only cost you $35, there’s also a 1080p Full HD version that’s actually cheaper than the first-gen at just $30.
As it turns out, you may not need to replace your aging HDMI dongle at all. If you’ve bought a new TV sometime in the past few years, there’s a good chance it already has Chromecast built-in. If your TV uses Google TV as its smart operating system — typically found on TVs from Sony, TCL, and Hisense — it can do Chromecast casting. And if you own an older model with Android TV? It can do casting, too.
But even if your TV doesn’t have Google TV, it might support Chromecast. Vizio TVs, for instance, have Chromecast built-in despite using Vizio’s own SmartCast software instead of Google TV.
If you want a truly dirt-cheap replacement for your Chromecast, check out Walmart’s Onn.-branded Google TV 4K streaming box. At just $20, it’s the most affordable streaming device you can buy, and yet it supports 4K and HDR, just like more expensive models.