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Google Home Review: Speaker That Makes Home Smarter

Google has designed a skillful smart speaker which can easily match its competitors

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Google has been phenomenal with its search engine and almost every day multiple times, we ask Google for its help. We search for stuff on our phones, smartwatches, laptops, PCs, TVs, cars and whatnot. But have you ever imagined talking to Google without a screen where it just responds to your voice?

Welcome the future with Google Home, the voice-controlled speaker backed by Google Assistant. We all have seen Tony Stark ordering Jarvis to do stuff in the movie Iron Man and Theodore romancing Artificial Intelligence Samantha in Her.

Well you can’t give much complex tasks to Home, we are not there yet but this speaker can do things which impresses all. To own this futuristic tech you have to pay Rs 9,999 in India which is priced same as its arch rival Amazon Echo. 

You can give them certain commands like play music, read the news, set timers and alarms, check the calendar, provide sports scores, control lights at home, and much more.

Design


Google Home is hands free, voice-controlled speakers which means you can give commands to them just by speaking.

Well how do I put this up, Google Home is a beautiful product with neat and unostentatious design which perfectly blends in with the surroundings you keep it in. It doesn’t look like a traditional speaker, it looks more like a lamp or a big room freshener which is not a bad thing.

Google Home has a touch surface on top which also have LED lights. You can control volume levels and playback by touching the top surface. To increase/decrease the volume by swiping clockwise/anti-clockwise, you can also tap the touch surface to play or pause the music.

Also, the lights respond and change pattern according to the command you give. There is only one physical button at the speaker’s back which mutes the Google Assistant if you don’t want it to listen you.

Google Home comes in white colour, by default it ships with slate fabric base. However the base is replaceable and users can customize it with other options according to their choice.

The smart speaker has a diameter of 96.4mm and 148.2mm of height, its power cable is 1.8 meters long. Talking about the weight, device weighs 477 grams and the power adapter weighs 130 grams.

User Experience

To setup Google Home, Wi-Fi connection is necessary, you’ll need to download Google Home app which works on devices with Android 4.4 Kitkat or higher and iOS 9.1. After the device is connected to your phone through Home app, you can wake the speaker by saying ‘Hey Google’ or ‘Okay Google’.

Note: The device requires an active power connection and does not run on batteries. 

The speaker have microphones with far-field technology which picks your voice from across the room.

You can give them certain commands like play music, read the news, set timers and alarms, check the calendar, provide sports scores, control lights at home, and much more. Apart from that you can ask everything to the speaker which you search for on Google using your phone or computer.

You can ask Google to do calculations, currency/unit conversions, and translations, ask facts and info, set timers/reminders, control lights (smart lights), and ask about news/sports update, directions, traffic and much more.   

When you ask Google Home for directions, it automatically opens Google Maps which comes in very handy.  

You can play songs, albums or artists from music subscription services like Saavn, Play Music and TuneIn on the speaker. Home is also Bluetooth-enabled so you can enjoy music directly from your phone without any streaming app and use it as a default speaker.    

For news, it picks feeds from NDTV and Times Of India, Dainik Bhaskar and Aaj Tak.

For example, you can ask “Who’s the Prime Minister of India?” or “What’s 23 divided by 29?” or “What’s the distance between New Delhi and Mumbai?” or “What time is it in New York right now?” or “What was the score of Chennai Super Kings game”?

Google will also roll out Hindi support for Google Home which means it you can command the speaker in Hindi but it can still translate words for you. For example, I asked what is ‘Hello’ in Hindi, it replied with ‘Namaste’ or what’s Potato in Hindi, it replied Aalo (potato in Hindi).

It is not just limited to Hindi only, you can ask almost everything in English and Google will provide you the translated words from a huge variety of languages like French, German, Spanish or Italian and many more.

I asked as the speaker is linked with your Google account, it knows which location it is in. For example when I asked “what’s the weather today’? Google replied “Today’s forecast of New Delhi’s weather is…..”

It displays your search queries and commands in the Home app but unlike Amazon’s Echo, every query is not displayed, Google ignores some of them and I didn’t find on which basis this is happening.

It supports HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), and FLAC audio formats. Google Home features high-excursion speaker with 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch passive radiators.

You can also enjoy a multi-room experience with Google Home by grouping Chromecast Audio or Chromecast built-in speakers to listen to the same song in every room.

This smart speaker can help you control a lot of devices in your home. You can Control lights, switches and more, using compatible smart devices from brands like Philips Hue and TP-Link. But these smart lights cost a lot so in my opinion, you should physically turn on/off your lights without making a clichéd statement like “Okay Google turn off my bedroom lights”.

Talking about the sound-quality, Google Home offers decent and pretty loud output that too towards with right amount of bass.

Final Verdict

As a first generation device, Google Home is pretty good looking and does its job. If you are early adopters of a technology, you will like to play with this. However, for a larger audience base the question remains - do you really need something like this, especially when the ecosystem is yet to mature up? This we leave to your personal preference.

The second big question is - how is Google Home different from Amazon Echo? Though we will do a detailed comparison shortly, Google Assistant seems to be a tad smarter than Amazon Echo. While this may not be existing for long with Amazon constantly updating its knowledge base, as of today, Android Users may find Google Home a familiar device. For sound quality Echo scores better.


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