Chromecast along with Google TV launched a whole new streaming experience for Android TV when it launched in September 2020. While the Google TV interface has made its way to a large number of smart TVs, it is only available on a few streaming devices and boxes.
Fortunately, a Chinese company called Mecool introduced a Google TV certified live streaming dongle in April. The Mecool KD3 checks all the boxes if you’re looking for a Chromecast with a Google TV alternative, although it suffers from the same shortcomings as Google’s dated streaming device.
In the two weeks that I’ve been using the streaming stick, I’ve discovered that it can handle any task you throw at it. When you combine that with an excellent remote that includes a few dedicated buttons for your favorite streaming services, KD3 becomes a worthy contender for the best Google TV compatible streaming devices and boxes money can buy.
Mecool KD3: Price and Availability
Mecool announced KD3 on April 20, running Android TV OS 11. The stick costs $63 in the US and can be purchased directly from Mecool’s online storefront. If you prefer to buy the product through Amazon, it will cost $80.
Fortunately, the company has offered Android Central readers a 15% discount. By entering the code KD3MECOOL on the Mecool website, you can get KD3 at a lower price.
The company said the product is shipping to the US, EU and UK markets.
Mecool KD3: What I like
KD3 comes in a very small package. Its design is monotonous, which is a good thing because it’s not something you’re supposed to see all the time. The dongle itself has gained some weight, which gives it a sturdy feel despite its small size. It plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port, just like a Google streaming device. If you’re having trouble connecting the dongle to your TV’s HDMI port, the KD3 ships with an HDMI extension cable to help you out.
The majority of the wand is matte plastic, with a shiny strip in the middle bearing the Mecool logo on one end and a power indicator light on the other end. The micro USB port on the back connects to the included USB power cable, which you can use to power the dongle by connecting it to the AC adapter.
However, in my case, I didn’t need the AC adapter to power the thing as it worked flawlessly on the TCL Union TV’s built-in USB port. This eliminates the need for an additional wire when using the stream dongle, which is always a plus.
Like Chromecast with Google TV, it includes support for 4K streaming at up to 60fps, HDR10 content, as well as Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
Mecool did an excellent job adapting the Google G10 reference design for the remote control and adding a few more buttons. While the remote looks similar to those included with many streaming devices or Android TVs, it has a lot more buttons than the Chromecast with Google TV remote.
Of course, no remote control would be complete without the Google Assistant button that allows you to talk to the voice assistant. It’s noticeably faster here than on a Google media device, although this is most likely due to the latter’s advancement.
As usual, there are the power, input, and volume buttons for your TV. It’s worth noting that the volume buttons work as expected thanks to HDMI-CEC support and IR blaster configurations, so you don’t need to use your TV remote to adjust the volume.
At the bottom are dedicated buttons for YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. You can’t help but appreciate the quick access to the major streaming platforms that they offer, and as someone who frequently uses Netflix and YouTube, the shortcuts are useful.
If you have an Apple TV subscription, you’ll be glad to know that KD3 supports Apple’s live streaming service. This is something that, even after a few years, Chromecast with Google TV still lacks.
Additionally, you will notice a unique profile button on the left side of the Assistant button. You won’t usually find this button on the built-in remote control for many of the best streaming devices, and its presence on the KD3’s remote control is presumably in preparation for the future rollout of personal Google TV profiles.
When you press this button, a profile selector appears, allowing you to switch between the main profile and the child profile. However, you won’t find it very useful until Google introduces personal profiles. However, it is encouraging to see Mecool prepare the media device of the future.
Speaking of future proofing, the KD3 is powered by the Amlogic S905Y4 chipset, a newer type of processor that supports AV1 encoded content. This video stream codec is not available on many streaming services yet.
However, compared to the more popular HEVC and H.264 standards, it offers a better compression scheme that will allow significant data efficiency savings without compromising video quality. As a result, it is expected to become a more perfect standard in the future as video content adopts higher frame rates and 8K resolution.
One more thing: Mecool also deserves a pat on the back to accomplish what Google failed to do with Chromecast with Google TV. One of the features KD3 has over Chromecast with Google TV is expandable storage. While the streaming device has the same 8GB of internal storage as the Google media device, you can officially expand that space with a $9 OTG cable. It enables you to connect a flash drive to the USB port of the cable to get additional storage space.
In all of these key areas, KD3 gets the job done well. The setup process is simple, navigation between menus and apps is easy, and the video content is excellent.
The Google TV experience is similar to that of Chromecast, and I had no problem getting the apps to work on my streaming device. As expected, KD3 has done a good job formatting the content based on what I watch often.
Another advantage is that the streaming stick operating system is one generation ahead of Chromecast with Google TV. However, the dongle still has the February 2022 security patch, and Mecool hasn’t mentioned when the latest security update will be released.
Mecool KD3: What I don’t like
I hope Mecool will add the ability to assign its buttons to a future streaming device. However, while this feature is not common on other media devices, having the ability to customize the functions of the remote control button is always useful.
While you can’t officially reset buttons, you can always download and install third-party apps from the Play Store. I’m using the Button Mapper app to change the way certain buttons work. For example, I reset the home button for things like taking a screenshot as well as navigating to the home screen.
I would also like to see the KD3 successor come with more built-in storage. KD3 suffers from the same app installation limitations as Chromecast with Google TV, which didn’t sit well with customers. Obviously, 8GB of storage space alone isn’t enough, and right off the bat, only half is left for your apps and files due to the large storage space taken up by the system itself.
If you subscribe to multiple streaming services, you may want to consider the NVIDIA Shield TV, which comes with more storage. Although there is an official solution to this shortcoming of the Mecool dongle, it is always better to install as many applications as you need without falling into this kind of limitation.
MyCool KD3: Competition
KD3 is a strong competitor to Chromecast with Google TV if you don’t mind paying more for some features that are not available in the latter. This means that Mecool’s flow wand faces a significant amount of competition from more popular brands that cost less. At $50, Google devices may still be the best option for some consumers, except they’re a bit outdated already.
The KD3’s closest competitor is probably the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, which supports 4K HDR streaming with Dolby Vision and Atmos for just $50. It includes an Alexa-enabled voice remote control and offers the same 8GB of storage. The two differ only in the program that is running.
You may also be interested in TiVo Stream 4K, another Android TV device that supports 4K resolution, HDR, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. It also includes the TiVo Stream app, which provides customized content based on your subscriptions. The best part is that it’s only $49.
Mikul KD3: Would you buy it?
You should buy this if…
- Prefer 4K content streaming at 60fps, HDR and Dolby Vision
- Want an interface that does a great job coordinating content
- You are looking for an option to increase storage space
- Want an all-in-one remote control
- You watch a lot of Apple TV content
You should not buy this if…
- You don’t want to pay more than you have to get other options
- You want more than 8 GB of fixed internal storage
- Want to watch content in Dolby Vision HDR
- You hate microUSB ports
At $63, it’s hard to recommend this product as a better purchase than Chromecast with Google TV. And the KD3 isn’t as spec-heavy as the NVIDIA Shield TV 4K, which has everything you could ask for in a streaming device. But when it comes to helping you discover content, it’s an excellent choice.
Google I/O 2022 is in full swing, which means there are plenty of new updates for the search giant’s TV operating system. We’ll have to wait and see how KD3 holds up as more streaming devices are expected to add support for the interface in the coming months. While the streaming device is a worthy contender to Google’s hardware, it’s far from giving it a run for its money.
Mecool KD3 Android TV Streaming Stick
If you are looking for a streaming device that supports 4K, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Atmos content, as well as an excellent remote control, then the Mecool KD3 Android TV streaming stick is a good Chromecast alternative with Google TV. It does the job well and has some future proofing features, such as support for the AV1 standard.