Whether you opt for the recently released Chromecast with Google TV (HD) or the slightly more expensive 4K version, you’re getting a straightforward streaming stick with a snappy interface and powerful video capabilities. However, neither includes much in the way of storage or connectivity, so you’ll need to supplement your purchase in the form of a USB-C hub and a sufficient wall charger.

With the 2022 release of the cheaper HD version of the Google TV dongle, it’s worth revisiting some of the best hubs for expanding the storage and functionality of two of the best streaming devices out there. Just make sure the hub has all the ports you need and that the charger can deliver enough power to run everything consistently.

Chromecast 4K vs. Chromecast HD

The 2020 release of the Chromecast with Google TV was a significant step in the right direction for Google. It pushed forward into the realm of USB-C while offering up to a 4K resolution and a significantly improved user interface.

If you can afford it, the $50 4K Chromecast is an excellent purchase. And don’t worry that it’s a couple of years older than its lower-resolution relative. It received an Android 12 update in October 2022, which further streamlines the user experience, in addition to adding more in-depth control HDR, surround sound, privacy, and security options. This update even addressed one specific bug that periodically prevented supported USB hubs from working after a reboot.

If you’re not concerned with 4K resolution or don’t have a setup that supports HDR and surround sound, though, the more recent HD Chromecast is an even better deal at just $30. In terms of menu navigation, performance, and ongoing security, it’s basically identical to the more expensive option.

Don’t forget a USB-C charger

First, know that you likely won’t be able to power any of these devices using the power supply that comes with either the new or old Chromecast model. The wall adapter they come with simply can’t deliver enough juice to power the streaming dongle and a USB-C hub, which requires roughly 15 watts of overhead. Plus, the more devices you plug into the hub means it takes more electricity to run. You’ll know if you’ve exceeded the power supply capacity if your Chromecast freezes or if individual components such as a flash drive, webcam, or mouse freeze or disappear.

Any power supply you choose must support the USB-C Power Delivery protocol and should have a capacity of at least 45 watts to ensure reliable performance. As always, opting for a USB-C charger that’s USB-IF certified to protect your devices is a good idea. We’ve highlighted two appropriate USB-C chargers from Nekteck and Spigen. The Nekteck 45W USB-C Charger is the least expensive and will work fine, but the Spigen 45W ArcStation Pro is a few years more recent and built with superior internals. Plus, the cord is detachable, which can greatly extend the charger’s life.

Do you need an Ethernet connection?

Slow Wi-Fi connections are a common problem with streaming devices, so many users want a USB-C hub mainly for a wired network connection. This keeps your resolution as high as possible and helps streamline the entire user experience since much of it takes place within apps as they’re actively accessing the internet. If a wired connection is your main goal, the Itramax Ethernet Adapter is worth considering because it’s purpose-built to add a wired connection, and that’s it. Alternatively, the Vemont VE-3108 is affordable and has three Type-A ports plus a gigabit Ethernet jack.

Make it easier to navigate the Chromecast

It’s also common to add a keyboard and mouse to the Chromecast to make it easier to use apps and search for media. These should both be plug-and-play installations. If enhanced input is something you’re interested in, make sure you get a hub with two or more USB-A ports. The only hub on our list that doesn’t fit that description is the Itramax; all others support multiple Type-A peripherals.

Alternatively, since Chromecast dongles support Bluetooth connections, you can use a wireless keyboard and mouse without much hassle.

Store more offline content

If you’re looking to expand the onboard storage of your Chromecast, a flash drive, SD card, or microSD card can help. Keep in mind these devices must be formatted in FAT32 for the Chromecast to access them. This does limit the viewing of external media to files of 4GB or less. If you want to access larger video files, you’ll have to convert them to a different format with a more efficient codec and get them under the 4GB mark.

It’s worth noting that at its initial release, the new Chromecast with Google TV had an app storage issue that led to a nearly full internal drive (and, therefore, frequent slowdowns) after just a couple of apps were installed. If you’re still experiencing that issue, make sure you’ve updated your Chromecast, as later patches have largely mitigated the problem.

A note on file storage

Both recent Chromecast dongles use only the FAT32 file system, which is slower, older, and less versatile than the NTFS or exFAT architectures. You won’t notice any issues in terms of pure performance, but there’s one big limitation with FAT32. Drives using the FAT32 standard can’t store individual files greater than 4 GB, smaller than some uncompressed video files that may or may not be in your collection.

Make sure to format all microSD and USB storage using the FAT32 file system, or they won’t work with a Chromecast dongle, no matter what hub you use to connect them.

Using peripherals with Chromecast

For what it’s worth, we have confirmed that each of our recommendations is compatible with the Chromecast with Google TV as long as you have an appropriate power supply. To use most of the added peripherals, you will have to access some developer options that are slightly hidden in the settings, but it’s not that difficult. Just go into the settings menu, then the system submenu, select about, and click on the Android TV OS Build seven times. It’s basically the same process used to unlock Developer Mode on a Chromebook or Android smartphone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *