Stadia Android TV: How It Works, Where It’s Supported

For those who wanted to use its cloud gaming platform on their TVs, Google Stadia took its sweet time by going beyond just the Chromecast Ultra, but the good news is that the time has finally come. Stadia is now available not only on Chromecast with Google TV, but on almost all Android TV devices. The question needs to be answered, though – does it matter what hardware you’re using?

Stadia supports these Android TV devices

Android TV comes in many shapes and sizes. You can get it on a stick, on a dongle, on a box, in a soundbar, or even on your TV. At launch, basically every device is technically supported, via Stadia’s “experimental” toggle. However, there is a list of devices that Google has officially marked as fully compatible with Stadia. That list includes:

  • Chromecast with Google TV
  • Hisense Android Smart TV (U7G, U8G, U9G)
  • nvidia shield tv
  • nvidia shield tv pro
  • Walmart Onn FHD Streaming Stick and UHD Streaming Device
  • Philips 8215, 8505, and OLED 935/805 Series Android TVs
  • Xiaomi MIBOX3 and MIBOX4

If your device isn’t on that list, don’t fret. Google will let you run Stadia on almost any Android TV and will make the process simple. On launch for the first time after downloading from Play Store, you will get a message saying device is not officially supported and one-click way to ignore it and use “Experimental” mode anyway.

Do the different types of Android TV devices make a difference?

However, the big question about Stadia on Android TV is whether the device you’re using makes a difference when it comes to the performance of the cloud-gaming service. Processing power shouldn’t technically be of much concern, but is there a difference? To find out, we tested Stadia on 10 different Android TV devices, all of which had something unique about them.

Baseline: Chromecast with Google TV

officially supported

Starting things off, is “major”. Google’s own Chromecast was released in 2020 and started the full conversation about Stadia on Android TV. The $50 dongle is now the showcase for Stadia on the big screen, and so, it’s one of the best places to use it.

Overall, Stadia on Chromecast with Google TV works great. There’s virtually no difference between the Chromecast Ultra experience this device serves versus the replacement it offers when using a good connection. I was able to stream my main test game, Jedi: Fallen Order, in 4K HDR and Cake Bash also worked wonders with two Stadia controllers connected. You’ll find the standard quirks on the Chromecast, however, always require manually launching the app and the Stadia controller doesn’t control the rest of the interface.

Affordable: Walmart Onn 4K

officially supported

Powering the Chromecast with Google TV is Walmart’s $30 Onn 4K dongle. It’s also on Google’s list of officially supported devices for Stadia and one of the cheapest to make the list.

With fewer specs than the Chromecast, how does it perform? In fact, it’s indistinguishable from Chromecast. You’ll lack Dolby Vision support, but other than that the performance is similar to Google’s device despite the lower-end chip. That’s great news, because it means you can go to Walmart and spend just $30 to start playing Stadia on your TV with any Bluetooth controller. Notably, Stadia does not trigger the annoying crashing issue that we noted in our recent review.

Android TV Built-in: Hisense U8G

officially supported

One of the places that matters most to Stadia is installed on your actual TV, no additional hardware required. Offering official support for Android TV and Google Stadia, the Hisense U8G brings that to the table. As such, my test went without a hitch. Gameplay was smooth, and thanks to this TV’s surprisingly good performance, apps load very smoothly. One of the best bits was that, unlike some of the other combinations I tested, HDR worked flawlessly, triggering the TV’s HDR mode that made for some excellent Jedi: Fallen Order sessions. However, this $1,200 TV may not be completely representative of everything out there.

One issue I had here was with bluetooth. While I didn’t test the controllers, I had a while trying to connect the Bluetooth earbuds so I could still play as my wife tried to sleep. The Galaxy Buds Live simply won’t show up as a pairing option for the TV, leaving me to plug a pair of earbuds into the Stadia controller.

You don’t need raw power: Xiaomi Mi TV Stick

not officially supported

Xiaomi Mi TV Stick is pretty much the bottom of the barrel when it comes to performance in modern Android TV devices. However, it doesn’t really hurt Stadia. While the app took over a minute to load, crashing once before fully functioning, gameplay was flawless once everything booted up properly. I was able to jump into Dirt 5 and play with my Stadia controller with no issues. Of course, that was in 1080p and without HDR by the nature of this low-end streamer.

not officially supported

The JBL Link Bar was probably one of the best concepts that Android TV brought to market, but it failed terribly in execution and left us with a device that underperforms in everything related to its Android TV half. Link bar performance is pretty poor for the most part. It shows itself as soon as you open the Stadia app on it, but since the app is just game streaming, it doesn’t matter. In fact, once you move past the splash screen, the performance is as good as anything else. But the Link Bar’s poor Wi-Fi performance hurts the experience significantly. Artifacts in the stream and hiccups were common, despite being in the same place as most of the other devices I tested, making the Dirt 5 nearly unplayable in my testing.

The JBL Link Bar is, in theory, a good example of why Stadia can work so well on smart TVs. This extremely low-powered device can’t handle local games – it can barely handle the UI itself – but can stream 4K video just fine. However, it’s the Wi-Fi performance and lack of Ethernet that really kills it.

Gold Standard: Nvidia Shield TV

officially supported

The gold standard of Android TV has been the Nvidia Shield TV for centuries, so it certainly stands to reason that the Shield would also be one of the best places to use Stadia. And, yes, that argument certainly holds.

Playing on the Shield, I noticed that the app launched ever so quickly, but elsewhere performance was basically the same, after all, all of these devices are accessing the same stream from Google’s servers. I did notice a handful of controller drift issues with the Shield, but that can be attributed to either the Shield controller I was using at the time or the Immortal: Fenix ​​Rising, which I’m finally trying it out now. Sounds like a supreme, unfinished video game. The same problems didn’t happen when I was using Stadia controller.

Operator Tier Lite: TiVo Stream 4K

not officially supported

Operator tier makes fundamental changes to Android TV, but operator tier Lite has a middle ground. One of the only devices using that option is the TiVo Stream 4K. Even though Google is offering this dongle for free to some of its YouTube TV customers, it is not on the list of supported Stadia devices.

Despite this, I didn’t notice any difference when it came to using Stadia on the TiVo Stream 4K. It could be added to my apps queue as usual, opened fine, and pairing the Stadia Controller gave me full functionality almost immediately. It seems safe to say that the operator plays no role in affecting the tier light service, certainly not in any negative way.

I was expectation Had to dive into Android TV’s operator tier to see if it affected Stadia, but unfortunately, my Verizon Stream TV device was on the fritz. I couldn’t find the exact problem, but essentially it got stuck in the process of booting up and was not sending signal to my TV. Regardless, I don’t think there’s any reason to expect the operator tier to have any cause for concern when it comes to Stadia as the established pattern so far implies. Plus, I was able to see Verizon Stream TV from the Play Store as an install target, which means it’s not blocked by Google, at least.

How about bluetooth controllers?

Most of my testing was done with a Stadia controller that bypasses your hardware and controls games directly on Google’s servers. Bluetooth controllers, on the other hand, logically have more room for input latency problems because they are passing through not only the Internet, but your device as well.

Fortunately, Bluetooth controllers work just as well on Android TVs as they do on PCs and Android phones. That is to say, input latency is possible, but it’s something you won’t realize in a meaningful way most of the time. The Stadia controller will always deliver the best experience, but for the most part you won’t have any trouble with a Bluetooth controller. My testing with the Nvidia Shield controller left me with some joystick drift issues (possibly due to leaving the controller untouched for over a year now) while the Xbox controller left me with virtually no problems.

I tested Microsoft’s controller with Google’s Chromecast and was impressed with how well everything worked. The Dirt 5 felt similar to a race Stadia controller. Google has apparently also done some customization for Bluetooth controllers with this app. Normally, the “Xbox” button would close an app and return you to the homescreen, but that doesn’t happen with the Stadia app, instead opening the side panel with friends and settings.

Plus, Bluetooth controllers have an inherent advantage over Stadia controllers because they can control your Android TV even after you leave the app. This alone makes Google’s official option a little less appealing when playing on Android TV.

Why is Chromecast the best option with Google TV?

Our conversation about where you play Stadia on Android TV is based on exactly one answer: There’s virtually no difference. If you already have an Android TV, there’s no reason to go out and buy a new device.

However, if you don’t already have an Android TV, I strongly think that Chromecast with Google TV is the best option if Stadia is your primary focus. Why? Since the Chromecast is Google’s first-party TV device, it is likely to receive any future software perks for Stadia before others. I personally like integrating Stadia into the Google TV homescreen so you can jump straight into the game, but that’s not something here at the moment. However, if it ever does, it will be on Chromecast or other devices with the new Google TV UI.

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