Chromecast with Google TV can now receive an update to Android 12, which adds a collection of new features, including an option that will be especially welcome to movie lovers.
The update is rolling out now (via FlatpanelsHD (opens in new tab)) and includes more privacy features, security updates, options to control HDR and surround sound format settings, and frame rate matching.
The last one is the big one – we’ll explain the technical details further down, but that means the Chromecast can switch from its default 60 frames per second video output to 24 frames per second (correct for movies) in real-time every time you start. film. That means you can have smooth cinematic motion on your TV without needing any motion processing… as long as you have a 120Hz TV.
If you don’t have a 120Hz TV this won’t make a difference (again, we’ll cover why in a moment), but most new mid-range or premium TVs these days have a 120Hz display.
The Apple TV 4K has had this feature for some time now, and it’s one of the reasons we rate it as the best streaming device overall – so this update helps the Chromecast catch up, despite being a lot cheaper.
In addition to the above, the Android 12 update promises to get rid of the bugs and improve the performance of Chromecast 4K with Google TV if you update. (The newest and cheapest Chromecast HD with Google TV comes with Android 12.)
Analysis: 24fps and 120Hz explained
Getting the perfect cinematic motion on a TV is a matter of time. Movies are shot at 24 frames per second. Older or cheaper LCD/OLED TVs refresh (ie show a new image) on the screen 60 times per second.
Fast mathematicians will immediately see the problem here: 60 doesn’t divide perfectly by 24. This means it’s impossible for the timing of movie frames to perfectly sync with how often the TV shows a new image, so some movie frames will be shown for longer than a 24th of a second, and some will be shown for shorter.
You can really notice this during any slow, consistent motion, like a camera panning across a landscape – instead of looking smooth, it’s going to be a little juddery, because the frame-to-frame timing isn’t equal.
That’s why you generally shouldn’t completely turn off motion processing on these TVs – at a low level this should help minimize that judder.
However, the introduction of 120Hz TVs has given us a way to end this. 120Hz TVs refresh their screens 120 times per second, which means they’re compatible with anything that used to run at 60 frames per second (since that’s a nice doubling of the refresh rate), but can also sync perfectly with 24 fps movies, because 120 divides perfectly by 24.
So, in theory, with a 120Hz TV you can watch movies at 24fps and turn off motion processing for natural cinematic motion.
However, this only works if what you’re getting from your streamer is actually 24fps – but many send the video over HDMI at 60fps because that makes life easier with 60Hz TVs. This means that even if you have a 120Hz TV, you still doesn’t get the benefit of the film’s natural motion – although some TVs have a feature designed to recover the original 24fps motion as best it can (on LG TVs this is called ‘Real Cinema’, for example).
So the point of Chromecast’s ‘Match content frame rate’ feature is to make the streamer switch its output from 60fps to 24fps over HDMI when it detects you’re watching a movie and back to 60fps for TV shows or whatever. .
Finally, you can enjoy the motion of a movie the way it should be, on one of the best 4K TVs or projectors, with your Chromecast 4K.