Should one wait? Google’s new Chromecast 4 is far from available, so the Android TV alternatives are even more interesting.
Google’s upcoming Chromecast may be known for a long time with some details, but the official market launch remains an unknown factor. You don’t necessarily have to wait for this new device, because there are definitely interesting alternatives at different prices. Sabrina, the internal code name for Google’s new Chromecast dongle, is incorporated as software for the first time with Android TV. This version of the Android operating system is also used by other manufacturers.
Magenta TV Stick supports 4K
There are devices comparable to the Chromecast 4, some of which are new. For example, the Telekom Magenta TV Stick, which is probably closer to the new Chromecast, isn’t very old. One difference from cheaper devices is support for 4K (Ultra HD) video output. Telekom and other distributors want just under 70 euros, so the price of the Magenta TV Stick is on par with a Chromecast Ultra.
The Telekom stick is more of a dongle and therefore slightly larger. It still gets to the TV via HDMI and power is available via USB. We can get to the Google Assistant and Magenta TV via the included remote, but unfortunately not Netflix or Amazon Prime Video directly. The installed Android TV is for the most part similar to what we are used to. There is no obligation to subscribe to Telekom, you can get all the apps you want from the Play Store.
Xiaomi Mi TV Stick
Xiaomi’s Mi TV Stick, which is currently only available in the Full HD version in Europe, is simpler and cheaper. Therefore, there is no video output in 4K (Ultra HD). However, this also translates to a lower price of less than 50 euros. In addition, the included remote control is equipped with quick access for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, in addition to the button for Google Assistant. It is the simplest device of its kind, also somewhat comparable to the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Nvidia Shield: Smart TV and gaming platform
An equally interesting but very expensive alternative would be the Nvidia Shield TV. There’s a bit more here, the basically 4K-capable HDMI dongle has significantly more power under the hood. The integrated Tegra X1 + is also suitable for games with higher requirements, because the Shield devices were also Android game consoles from the beginning. And again, the remote is structured differently, with Netflix also offering just one shortcut for popular streaming services.
It only starts at about 150 euros, that’s what the Shield TV is for. The Shield TV Pro is even more expensive but also bigger at more than 200 euros. The first generation Nvidia Shield can hardly be found in stores today, so you have to keep an eye out for the used market.
Amazon Fire TV: Android but not Android TV
I also mentioned Amazon’s Fire TV Stick for under $ 40, which again doesn’t come with Android TV. Android is still the foundation of the Fire operating system, but there is no Google Play Store. However, the Amazon software is well maintained, there are almost all known applications. You just have to do without Google Assistant and Co. YouTube is there.