With Google TV, you can stream all of your favorite episodes and movies as well as keep track of their whereabouts. Except if you’re in the market for a new TV, there aren’t many hardware options for using the platform. One of the few legitimate alternatives to the Chromecast with Google TV is the Mecool KD3, and from our experience using it over the past several weeks, it does a good job.
The KD3 is one of Mecool’s most recent offerings, a Chinese business that has been developing Android TV OS products for some time. However, it is completely authorized by Google to use the Play Store and the same Google TV interface as the Chromecast with Google TV and select TCL and Sony TVs. This dongle works on a very conventional platform package. It’s also one of the few Mecool devices that can seamlessly support both Netflix and Prime Video.
Now that the history is out of the way, what features does the KD3 offer?
This streaming stick has fairly standard physical hardware. Since it is behind your TV, the ordinary black plastic body is OK. Given that the dongle is a little thick, it comes with an HDMI extension cord to fit more TVs. I would guess that most people will need this. The stick is powered by a microUSB connector and operates smoothly enough to use the built-in USB port on my Vizio TV without any issues. Depending on the TV you’re using, your results may differ, but it’s undoubtedly advantageous to avoid running an additional wire.
The G10 reference design, which Google and a partner created, is the remote that comes with the Mecool KD3 and has been seen on many other Android TV OS devices over the past year. The gray remote being utilized, with a Mecool logo plastered around the bottom and shortcut buttons for YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney along the bottom, is not particularly inventive. Additionally, there is a profile button at the top, which is still uncommon. The profile selector, which is currently only usable for choosing between an adult and a child’s profile, is called up in Google TV to make this work. When Google TV’s full profiles launch in the future, this will come in very handy.
The remote functioned well for the entire time I had the KD3 and never disconnected or lagged. The fact that the remote has IR capability is useful because I occasionally had trouble using HDMI-CEC to manage the volume of my TV, the KD3, and the HDMI-ARC soundbar that is attached to it. However, that is a configuration that is prone to problems, so your outcomes may differ. In my instance, it would function normally for a few days before abruptly ceasing to. However, CEC for turning the entire system on and off was quite dependable.
The KD3 is powered by the Amlogic S905Y4, a more recent processor that complies with the AV1 standard. Even while that compression standard isn’t widely used right now, it gives the KD3 some future-proofing and guarantees that it will function with a number of streaming apps for years to come.
The Mecool KD3 has a number of significant advantages over the Chromecast, one of which being storage capacity. The KD3 shares Google’s dongle’s fixed 8GB of built-in storage, which hasn’t worked out so well for that product, but there is an official way to increase that storage. Despite not being included with my testing unit, Mecool provides an extra OTG cable for the KD3 that upgrades the charging cable to include a full-size USB connection. As a result, any USB storage device, such an inexpensive flash drive, can easily serve as additional storage. 8GB is still too little, but this $1 update will undoubtedly make things much easier. In contrast, Google does not provide a mechanism to increase the storage of the Chromecast, and alternatives to this are frequently quite messy when used with the Chromecast.
The KD3 performed admirably overall in streaming apps, which was to be expected. Given that my Chromecast devices are getting older, the Google TV experience sometimes even outperforms the Chromecast in terms of performance.
My main streaming test environments were YouTube and Disney , and both applications operated flawlessly, passing along 4K HDR in the latter’s instance with no discernible issues. I can’t comment on how well Netflix works on this particular gadget because I don’t currently have a subscription. On my soundbar, Dolby Audio began to play, and Dolby Vision also functioned with appropriate content.
It’s also significant to note that this device comes pre-installed with Android TV OS 11. That is an advanced version over Chromecast with Google TV. Although there is currently no information on an Android 12 upgrade, I wouldn’t rule it out. During my time using the KD3, no security upgrades were given; as of the time of publication, the dongle was still using the February 2022 security patch. It does employ Google’s update distribution method, as opposed to a third-party alternative, which is a bonus.
LAST THOUGHTS Overall, the Mecool KD3 is a good Google TV streaming stick, but it is up against some tough competition. It’s difficult to envision someone choosing this device over Google’s $50 Chromecast or Walmart’s Onn streamers, which also come with the same fantastic remote, at $63 from Mecools website and roughly $80 on Amazon . Only availability stands out. With connectors for the US, EU, and UK markets, Mecool will send the KD3 almost everywhere. While the Walmart streamers are only available in the US, Google only officially sells the Chromecast in ten nations.
Additionally, Mecool is offering a 15% discount on the KM3 to 9to5Google readers using the code 15KD3 on the Mecool website .
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