If you’re wondering if a smart TV or Chromecast is your best option, read on.
They may have similar functions, but the difference lies in how they exactly work. Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences of the two devices so you can decide which one works best for you.
Smart TVs and Chromecasts Explained
A smart TV can access hundreds of apps via the Internet to meet your entertainment needs, while a Chromecast connects to the Internet to cast content onto your TV from another device, such as a smartphone or tablet.
You can easily control and limit who has access to cast to your TV.
1. Which is Better, a Smart TV or Chromecast?
Both smart TVs and Chromecast have their strengths and weaknesses.
Most smart TVs have access to all the apps you could want, without the need for extra equipment. But it is more expensive than a Chromecast.
A Chromecast is the best option when you are on a budget and cannot afford to buy a new TV. But you must have another device that will cast to the Chromecast. This device can be a smartphone, tablet, or computer that can access the Google Chrome browser.
2. Five Differences between Smart TVs and a TV with Chromecast
There are many differences between smart TVs and Chromecast, but here are five of the most notable ones.
Most smart TVs have more apps on-board (such as Apple Music) when compared to the apps that Chromecast can support.
But the Chromecast supports many of the most-used streaming apps that are available on smart TVs. These apps include Netflix, YouTube, Disney Plus, Hulu, and much more.
When it comes to apps, smart TVs still have an edge due to the variety of choices, although it is still dependent on the TV’s operating system.
The apps supported on the smart TVs you are considering purchasing are important—be sure your favorites are all supported. You should do the same with Chromecast.
Smart TVs have their own remote controls while the Chromecast does not. You will have to navigate with the device you are using to cast your Chromecast.
That may be a little inconvenient.
A smart TV isn’t portable. If you are staying somewhere with a smart TV, you can log into your accounts, but what if you forget to logout?
That’s where a Chromecast wins.
The Chromecast is more portable and can be stuffed inside your bag without any problems. You can take it with you on vacation and continue your binge-watching in your hotel room or rental.
A smart TV is straightforward to use, as you only need to log into the accounts of the streaming services you are subscribed to in order to begin watching.
A Chromecast still needs a device to cast from. These devices can be smartphones, tablets, laptops, or a desktop Chrome browser. That alone already shows how dependent the Chromecast is on other devices to function.
And you also need a compatible device with HDMI input to plug into, which dictates the quality of your output on the screen. If the TV you plug into can only put out 1080p resolution, you will be limited to that and cannot go up to 4k quality.
Note also, you can use Chromecast alongside Roku.
There’s a big difference between the price point of a smart TV and Chromecast.
Entry-level smart TVs, on average, can go anywhere between $250 to $500, while a Chromecast can go for around $70 per unit. That’s a big difference as it is. But if you want a higher quality smart TV, they can get into the thousands of dollars.
3. Do I Need a Chromecast if I Have a Smart TV?
You don’t need a Chromecast if you already have a smart TV.
Chances are, the apps you watch are available on your smart TV.
But you may enjoy a Chromecast if your smart TV does not have all the apps you want to use, and they are supported on Chromecast.
It is worth noting that many of the modern smart TVs on the market come with Chromecast built-in.
You won’t need any dongles to use Chromecast, as you only need your casting device, like a laptop or smartphone, to use it.
A good example of smart TVs with Chromecast are the newer TVs released by Vizio, which is good since the Vizio TVs are not compatible with many popular apps.
4. Will a Chromecast Work with Any TV?
A Chromecast will work on any smart TV with an HDMI input. A Chromecast plugs into an HDMI port of any TV.
Many smart TVs have Chromecast built-in, as well.
Chromecast always needs the Internet to work.
5. Are Smart TVs Becoming Obsolete?
Smart TV models become obsolete as apps become more advanced and resource-intensive.
As the system requirements of apps become heavier, older smart TVs go into obsolescence because they lack support for these streaming platforms.
You can say particular smart TV models can become obsolete.
But smart TVs as a whole? They are far from becoming obsolete.
Smart TV manufacturers continue to develop their products by adapting to the trends, as well as setting trends.
That is why manufacturers compete for the best features. In doing so, smart TVs grow and evolve to meet the demands of the market.
6. What is the Best Solution for Streaming?
The best solution for streaming content from video platforms is still a smart TV.
- While Chromecasts and streaming sticks like the FireStick can do the same job, a smart TV is an all-in-one solution.
- With a smart TV, you can get an exceptional screen. You get to choose between OLED or LED displays, and you have the option for a wired or wireless Internet connection.
- While you can opt to get a Chromecast and get a cheaper TV with HDMI, if you are looking to get 4k resolutions, you will most likely end up getting a smart TV. Most of the TVs with 4k resolutions are smart TVs.
- And there’s also the fact that many smart TVs come with Chromecast built into it.
Of course, the downside to a smart TV is future-proofing. That is why you need to find a smart TV with specifications that will last longer than expected. Ideally, you want something that will last for an average of five years before you consider a replacement.
Please also read our article about streaming Spotify on Chromecast.
7. Is it Cheaper to Use a Chromecast or a Smart TV?
It is cheaper to buy a Chromecast, but you will still need compatible devices to use with it.
Remember that a Chromecast serves as a bridge between your TV screen and your casting device. Thus, you will need a device, a TV, and a Chromecast.
In theory, you can spend for a Chromecast, smartphone, and a compatible TV and still not come close to the price of entry-level smart TVs.
But if you are after quality, particularly the display, the price of having a Chromecast setup may cost as much as an entry-level smart TV when you factor in having a high-quality screen to display the content.
8. What Channels Are Free on Chromecast?
Chromecast does not offer channels, but it can link compatible web or smartphone apps for casting on your screen.
Here are some popular apps to use with Chromecast.
- The most popular free app you can cast with Chromecast is YouTube, which is also owned by Google.
- You can access Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
- If you are into music, you can also cast your Google Play Music playlist to your Chromecast.
- If you want to showcase to friends your photos from a recent trip, you can upload them to Google Photos and cast them to the screen with Chromecast.
- If you like movies, Movies Anywhere is a free-to-download app that aggregates movies from different sources. While the app is free to download, you need to pay for the individual titles you want to watch. These movies will then be available in the app forever after paying for it.
9. Do You Need Internet for Chromecast?
Chromecast relies on an Internet connection to stream content.
And just as important, the Chromecast and your device need to be on the same Wi-Fi network to operate.
10. Are Chromecasts the Same as FireSticks or Roku Streaming Sticks?
Chromecasts are different from streaming sticks like the Amazon FireStick or Roku Streaming Stick.
The main difference between the Chromecast and the FireStick or Roku Streaming is that the Chromecast relies on another device that sends data to your smart TV.
Devices like the FireStick or Roku Streaming Stick can function alone, without that second device. It streams directly to your TV. All they need is to be plugged into an HDMI port and connected to the Wi-Fi network.
11. Is the Chromecast the Same as Miracast?
Chromecast and Miracast are different, although they both depend on a device to get content.
Miracast mirrors exactly what is on your phone. That means, if you are watching a movie, all notifications your device receives will also be on the screen. That is quite interrupting and inconvenient.
Meanwhile, Chromecast is media streaming-centric. Chromecast pulls information it receives from your smartphone or Chrome browser and displays it on your TV while you continue using your device for other functions.
If you are watching a movie on Netflix and decide to cast to your Chromecast, the Chromecast will pick-up the movie and display it on your screen. You can then move to other apps and continue what you are doing.
12. Is Chromecast the Same as MHL?
Chromecast and MHL are different.
MHL is a wired system that is like Miracast, while the Chromecast works by pulling data from your device and the Internet and streams based on that information.
13. Can Chromecast Mirror Your Screen on a Smart TV?
You can mirror your screen through Chromecast with the use of apps that do screen mirroring.
14. Is the Chromecast Better than AirPlay 2 for Smart TVs?
The Chromecast works better than the AirPlay 2, as it does not rely on the Internet connection from your device but rather connects on its own.
The AirPlay is more dependent on the connection of your device. Thus, if you move around the house and go to a dead spot, the content on screen through AirPlay 2 will be affected.
Meanwhile, Chromecast is not dependent on the connection of your phone or computer. You can move around the house without affecting the streaming quality of the Chromecast.
Both Chromecast and smart TVs have their strengths and weaknesses.
If you are on a budget or like flexibility, the Chromecast is a great option. But for those who want a no-frills, all-in-one entertainment solution, a smart TV works better.