Consider me quite frustrated this morning. It’s been months since I last tried GeForce NOW on the Chromecast with Google TV, and with the gameplay I’ve been experiencing latetly on my Chromebook, I expected it to be fantastic. Don’t get me wrong: the games look slick and the stream itself is really high quality. The problem still lies in the inability for the latest Chromecast to handle controller input without significant lag.
When I booted things up, I connected a few different controllers to the Chromecast to test out what I hoped was going to be a nice update to the previously-laggy experience, and those controllers only ended up proving just the opposite. Instead of proving that GeForce NOW on the Chromecast is fantastic to use now, I ended up seeing lag across the board.
I tried the XBOX Series X, XBOX One, and the Shield TV controllers and experienced various amounts of lag with each. Whether excessive or not, a quarter second of lag or more is far too much to overcome when playing faster-paced games the way I tend to. And at first, I thought the GeForce NOW Android TV app was to blame. But it isn’t.
The problem lies with the Chromecast
In an effort to really see what was going on, I dusted off my old Shield TV, charged up my Shield controller, got things updated and launched GeForceNOW. And you know what? The controller input was perfect. Though tempted to keep playing, I jumped out of the game, connected up the other two XBOX controllers I was using to test and the game continued to look gorgeous and be fully playable with those controllers as well.
As a final test, I then paired the GeForce NOW controller with the Chromecast to make sure there’s not some sort of issue with XBOX controllers on Google’s dongle. There isn’t. While the Shield Controller performed perfectly on the Shield TV, the same exact lag was present on the Chromecast that I saw with the XBOX controllers.
And when you test like this, there’s only one conclusion to draw: the problem lies with the Chromecast. There’s a certain latency that exists with Bluetooth peripherals that simply doesn’t show up with other Android TV boxes. My Shield TV is one of the older models, too, so there’s no reason for the Bluetooth on the Chromecast not to be on par with it.
For reasons unknown to me, it just doesn’t work well right now, and that’s a bummer. I never had an issue with Stadia, but I also leveraged the unique Wi-Fi controller connect when using that service, so relying on Bluetooth wasn’t really necessary. With games looking so great and running so well on GeForce NOW with Android TV, I’d love to see Google iron out the latency issues for GeForce NOW users on their own streaming hardware.
For now, however, if you want to play streaming games on your TV, your better bet is a Shield TV, Chromebook or Chromebox. I hooked up my Acer Chromebook 516 GE to my 4K screen at home and it was an awesome experience. I could see using a Chromebox for this same task as long as you have a wireless keyboard/mouse lying around. And other Android TV boxes may fare better; I simply don’t have any of those around to test at the moment.
What I do know is the issue isn’t GeForce NOW, Android TV, or Bluetooth controllers. The problem lies with the Chromecast, and I have no idea if it will ever get resolved. I sure hope it does as I tend to like the Chromecast with Google TV better than most streaming boxes. There doesn’t seem to be a reason why Google couldn’t make an adjustment to fix this, but I’m not too optimistic about that. Here’s hoping, though.