Chromecast with Google TV may now be getting an update to Android 12, which adds a collection of new features, including an option that will be especially welcome for movie lovers.
The update is now rolling out (via Flat panelsHD (opens in a new tab)) and includes more privacy features, security enhancements, options to control HDR and surround sound settings, and frame rate matching.
The last one is the big one – we’ll explain the technical details below, but it will mean that the Chromecast can change the standard 60fps video output to 24fps (correct for movies) on the fly every time you start a movie. This means you can display smooth, cinematic motion on your TV without the need for motion processing…as long as you have a 120Hz TV.
If you don’t have a 120Hz TV, it won’t matter at all (again, we’ll discuss why in a moment), but most new mid-range or premium TVs these days have a 120Hz screen.
The Apple TV 4K has had this feature for a while, and it’s one of the reasons we rank it as the best streaming device – so this update helps the Chromecast catch up even though it’s much cheaper.
In addition to the above, the Android 12 update promises to remove bugs and improve Google TV Chromecast 4K performance if you update. (The new, cheaper Chromecast HD from Google TV was already available with Android 12.)
Analysis: 24fps and 120Hz explained
Getting the perfect cinematic motion on your TV screen depends on timing. Videos are shot at 24 frames per second. Older or cheaper LCD/OLED TVs refresh (i.e. display a new image) the screen 60 times per second.
Astute mathematicians will immediately notice the problem: 60 is not exactly divisible by 24. This means that it is impossible to synchronize the film’s frames with the television’s new image, so some frames of the film will be displayed for more than 24 seconds and some will be displayed for less.
You can really notice this during any slow, consistent movement, such as the camera panning across a landscape – instead of looking smooth, it’s going to be a bit wobbly because the time between frames isn’t equal.
So, in general, you shouldn’t disable motion processing on these TVs entirely – at low levels, this should help minimize this jitter.
However, the introduction of 120 Hz TVs allowed us to end this. 120Hz TVs refresh their screens 120 times per second, which means they’re compatible with anything that ran at 60fps (since that’s a neat doubling of the refresh rate), but they can Also sync perfectly with 24 fps videos as 120 is divisible evenly by 24.
So theoretically, on a 120Hz TV, you can watch 24 fps movies and turn off motion processing to get natural, cinematic motion.
However, this only works if what you’re getting from your streamer is actually 24fps – but many output video via HDMI at 60fps because that makes life easier with 60Hz TVs. This means that even if you have a 120Hz TV, you still they don’t benefit from the natural motion of the film – although some TVs have had a feature designed to recover the original 24fps motion as best as possible (LG TVs call it “Real Cinema”, for example).
So the Chromecast’s “Match Frame Rate” feature is for the streamer to switch its output from 60fps to 24fps over HDMI when it detects you’re watching a video, and switch back to 60fps in TV shows or whatever.
Finally, you can enjoy movie motion as it should be on one of the best 4K TVs or best 4K projectors, with Chromecast 4K.