When Google unveiled its new Chromecast at the tail-end of last year, one of the biggest improvements was the arrival of Google TV. Whereas previous Chromecast gadgets didn’t have a menu to speak of – everything is handled with the streaming apps on your iPhone or Android – the latest generation changes all that. With a remote control and a rich, beautifully designed menu, Chromecast with Google TV is closer to Amazon’s Fire TV Stick or Roku gadgets than previous Chromecasts.
Google TV, which is built upon the foundation of Android TV – also found powering a number of Smart TVs from brands like Philips, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba and TCL, includes access to the Google Play Store for apps and games, suggestions for new shows and movies to watch based on your viewing history, and integrated ratings from Rotten Tomatoes to help you decide what is worth taking a primetime slot during your Friday night-in.
Google TV is also deeply-integrated with your Google account, so when you search for a new show, a director, or a film on Google.co.uk, you can add the title to your Watch List direct from the search results. Of course, if you have an Android smartphone or tablet, there are similarly deep connections. Google Assistant is also built into Google TV (unlike previous Chromecast models) so you can ask for the latest headlines, weather, trivia questions, and set the temperature on your Nest thermostat and control any smart lightbulbs – just like you would with a Google Nest Mini or Home Hub.
Sony has been relying on Android TV for its flagship Bravia models since 2015. Included on both LED and OLED Smart TVs, Sony used Android TV to offer viewers access to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and others straight out of the box.
However, the Japanese company plans to change with the times – and is ditching this out-dated software in favour of the latest option from Google. Confirmed back during its CES announcement, Sony was the first company to reveal plans to adopt the newer Google TV software. And now, it has become the first manufacturer to launch a Smart TV model powered by Google TV.
The Bravia X80J and Bravia XR A90J are available in the UK right now, from your local Sony Centre, Currys PC World, and other online and high street retail partners. The former is a more affordable LED panel, that ranges from 55- to 65-inches. Meanwhile, the A90J series ships with pricier OLED screen technology, albeit in the same sizes.
These 4K TVs include support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision picture standards and leverage Sony’s X1 4K HDR Processor to “boost detail.” The Bravia X80J includes a 60Hz refresh rate and four HDMI ports …and of course, you won’t need to sacrifice one of those to connect a Chromecast.
The pricier Bravia XR A90J has 120Hz and two of its four HDMI ports are the new HDMI 2.1 standard, which is what you’ll want at your disposal if you have a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X in your TV stand.
The remote includes dedicated shortcut buttons for YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video. There’s also a button for the Google Assistant to make the ties to Google TV feel even closer.
If you’re not ready to upgrade your telly quite yet, the Chromecast with Google TV is still available and can plug into any TV model you already own. It starts from £59.99.