The Google search engine has become a technological main staple in our society, period. Need to learn how to slice a onion correctly, Google it. What's the score of the Warriors-Clippers game? Google it. Not sure whether or not you should purchase a Android smart phone or Apple iPhone? Do your research and yes, Google it. Google search engine is synonymous with watching TV, like the search engine , its something we have and use everyday. In present day 2016, Google search has now extended itself to next level technology, smart home assistant with Google Home. Home ( the device) is Google's own voice-controlled smart speaker that's similar to the Amazon Echo.
Well what do you know, I just so happen to have Google Home in my possession and I have an critical perspective opinion on what I think could be a technological game changer.
When it comes to voice control smart home devices, the Amazon Echo pretty much have a 2 year leg up in the market over Home. In short description, Echo is a table top speaker that's a "smart assistant" which go by the command name Alexa, ask it anything and it will answer any command upon request, it connects via Wifi to several products within your home the Nest Thermostsat, Phillips Hue and IFTTT, to name a few. It even pulls your playlist from your music stream service such as Pandora and Spotify. Guess what, Home achieves the same function.
With the emergence of Google Home, competition is just about to get fierce.
Google Home In Description
Before I give you my critical perspective on Google Home, let me briefly give you a product introduction. In describing Google Home overall product design, it can be mistaken for an air freshener that blends perfectly within your home environment. Frequent guess that visited the studio didn't even notice Google Home presence, that is until I voiced out a couple of commands. Unlike Amazon Echo elongated cylindrical design, Google Home is compactly stout. You can literally place it anywhere in the home or office, it definitely won't compromise space on your kitchen counter top or desktop. You can even place Google Home in your bathroom, though I advise you don't take it with you in the shower. The base of Google Home can actually come apart with ease, in fact you don't have to use the default gray mesh base that came with the device, for $20, your choice options are Fabric Mango, Fabric Marine, Fabric Violet, Metal Carbon and Metal Copper.
When taking the base apart, you'll notice three embedded speakers that's nicely compact. How does speakers sound to the ears, I'll get to that in few paragraphs.
Powered by its search engine, Google Home connects with your Google account pulling every single information that's associated with your account that includes your web history and Gmail data. Home will keep you up to date with your calendar appointments, know the weather in your area and even direct your traffic commute. Home will have the ability to remember your previous question that was asked so it can better answer you in the future. Where Google Home really shine is its ability to control your home devices that includes the Nest Thermostat, your TV and speakers via Chromecast and Chromecast Audio.
Setting Up Google Home With No Problem
Google Home can practically be setup with ease as soon as you take it out of the box. First, head right over to your respective app store (iOS or Android) and download Google Home application, power up Home and sync it via WiFi through the app, see how simple that is.
Once you've powered up and synced Google Home via WiFi, the app will ask you where in the home you plan on placing the device. For me I chose to have it where I can easily access the device, and that's my desktop, but I do plan on placing somewhere else. Once done, the app will prompt you to sign in to your Google account. Home will then access your calendar, email, travel information and much more. Kick start Google Home by simply spewing out these two words: "OK Google". The final stage in the entire setup process is to link your apps to Google Home: Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music. See how simple that was.
Does it work well?
To that the answer question, for me yes it does, but doesn't come close to what Amazon have to offer, at least not yet. In fairness, not having Echo in my possession makes it rather difficult for me to make a comparison between the two devices. From what I've viewed on the Internet (YouTube), Echo definitely have Google beat in the number of commands it can be ask, but that's expected since Echo have had time to mature into what it is today. Google Home is just 60 days removed from market inception, the device is still getting its feet wet. Yet as I pen this review Google has already updated Home adding more commands.
In my brief time with Google Home, thus far it is what I expect it to be, a valuable smart home assistant. Admittedly, Home by far is one of the best gadgets I've purchased in 2016.
Now for the gripe, Home is not responsive to random commands which for me is the devices flaw, you have to be very specific with your questions. Having Home at your beck and call requires you to, yes, bark out these two words "OK Google" which for me its rather tedious. I prefer to just ask it a question without saying "OK Google" .
Gripe and all, Google Home does serve as a valuable personal assistant, you can create a shopping list, even add more items to that list, check your calendar, set your alarm, gives an accurate weather forecast in your area of dwelling. Where voice command assistants like that of Google Home benefit is when you ask it to do a quick Google search. It gives accurate answers to your questions from various sources using Wikipedia. For an example, I asked Google Home "OK Google What's the first country on Earth to celebrate New Years? " The answer it gave me was Samoa, which accurately correct.
About that sound
I've stated a few paragraphs ago that I would talk about the sound output from Google Home, well I must say I'm rather surprise by how well Home produces sound from its one 2" drivers alongside a dual 2" passive radiators, but its nothing like Echo's sound system which has dual speaker array of one 2.5" woofer and a 2.0 tweeter which I'm sure trumps what Home has, but still and all, to my ears sound coming from Home is pretty decent and surprisingly loud. Nice strong bass with decent sound clarity, and shockingly it has great range, I can literally can hear it coming upstairs before entering the studio. Now Google Home will most certainly not replace your stereo system in your living room, the sound is good enough to use it as a standalone device if you plan on listening to Internet radio or music.
Great sound is not the only attribute with Google Home, its far field microphone is able to pick up my voice command from at least 15 feet away. Just make sure there's no sound coming from other sources like your TV. Google Home does not do a good job in sound isolation. Often times if I'm playing video on the PC or loudly blasting my music, oddly enough,Google Home responds with a answer, just wow. In all, score a big plus in sound output.
So why buy Google Home not Amazon Echo?
I had a little bit of money to splurge and as usual spent it on a technology related gadget. I always wanted a home assistant, something about having access to artificial intelligence intrigue me. The choices were Echo or Google Home, Amazon echo seems to be very good at handling task such as shopping, music playing and controlling home automation. Google Home achieves the same task as well, but my decision to go with the latter was pretty simple, Home uses Google search, while Echo uses Bing search engine, that right there is what sealed the deal. For me, Google Home is voice automated search engine answering various questions giving accurate answers even solving basic math equations.
I equate Google Home AI to Jarvis from the movie Iron man. I treat as such using Home as more a knowledge base tool that expends a great deal of information from the Internet. Google Home $129 price also aided in my decision making , while Echo on the other hand cost $189.
If change is needed, what will it be?
If I were to reverse engineer Google Home, implement some tweaks I would get rid of the OK Google command, for me the command just seems so unnatural, often times I would forget to utter those two words mistakenly before asking it to perform a task. I would love to Google Home integrate more with your smartphone, like answer phone calls, have access to your contacts so when you get call or maybe have missed it, it would announced the name of the person calling. I also would like to see Home give you news and sports updates all without me asking, wouldn't that be nice.
I don't want always shout out commands to Google Home I want it to be a true AI personal assistant like Jarvis in the movie Iron man. But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself by about 10 years.
Epilogue (Final Thought)
In concluding this penned review, I have to say Google Home is a good device that has potential be a great device. Its greatest attributes in my opinion is how well it meshes with some of my favorite music services that include Spotify, Pandora and Google Play Music, syncing well with Google's cast devices, Chromecast and Chromecast Audio.
Home biggest strength and advantage it has over Echo is its ability to use Google search to give you answers to knowledge based questions. In acting as a true personal assistant, Home personalizes daily briefings, checks your traffic commute, create and adjust shopping lists. As Impressive as this device is, its still outdone by Amazon Echo 2-1, which has over 3,000 Alexa skills, a mass abundance of third party Echo support and a two year lead in the smart home market.
With that said, I paid $129 bucks betting that Google Home will get better in time, equaling Echo's capabilities. With Google exhausting a great deal of their fortune into AI technology, I can't see why Home can't best what Amazon have to offer. The key here is how many developers will get on board Google Home train, adding third party support would mean there will better features with added commands.
Product Rating Score: 8