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Google Home is a personal assistant smart speaker, and it comes from a company that literally knows everything (about you). Like the Amazon Echo, the $130 Google device answers questions, turns on smart home devices, plays music, listens to your problems, and informs the FBI of your plans to become the next Walter White You Can See Some Of Your Favorite Movies And TV Shows In Real Life You Can See Some Of Your Favorite Movies And TV Shows In Real Life What if I told you that it was possible to travel to see the locations featured in your favorite movies and shows? Read More (we’re kidding on the last one… we think).

The main Google Home speaker is a bit cheaper than the Echo, which tips the scales at $180. However, Amazon also offers the Tap for the same $130, and the far cheaper Dot at $50. Google doesn’t offer any cheaper models for its assistant, which also doesn’t leave any confusion for consumers.

Check out a demo of the device’s features and what we thought of it below.

Design

Let’s reel this in a bit and talk about the actual look of the speaker first. As much as I want to just look at the Home on its own, there’s really no avoiding Echo comparisons. Obviously, the look is based on personal preference. It does appear that Google is aiming to make its device look less like a speaker and more like a piece of modern art, however. It has that sort of IKEA design. Google even offers different color bottom caps to customize it with the look of your home. The default is gray, so it’ll match most households, but it’s nice to have options.

Of course, it is a speaker, and it needs power, so there is a cable. Google does include a 90-degree plug and a recessed port, so it sits flat and hides well enough.

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Personally, I like the size and look of the Home better than the Echo Amazon Echo vs. Google Home vs. Apple HomePod Amazon Echo vs. Google Home vs. Apple HomePod In this article, you'll learn the differences between the Amazon Echo and Google Home. We'll also take a look at what features an Apple speaker may include. Read More , but again, that’s subjective. They both look fine, and if you buy a device like this, it’s really more about what it does! You could argue that Google Home looks a bit like an air freshener, though.

Welcoming Google Into Your Home

Before we dig into exactly what you can connect to your magical Google speaker, let’s look at the setup process. Once you plug it in, you’ll need to download the Google Home app on one of your devices. From there, you just follow the instructions to get Google Home on your network.

Now, as far as the process of connecting it with your devices, that’s quite easy, too. Again, you’ll use the Google Home app and give permission for Google Home to get access. I tried it with Spotify, Belkin WeMo, Pandora, IFTTT 13 Wacky Ways to Beat Procrastination With IFTTT 13 Wacky Ways to Beat Procrastination With IFTTT Squeeze more out of your work time. Solve the productivity puzzle by keeping distractions and procrastination at bay with these smart IFTTT recipes. Read More , and of course, my Google account. Each one was easy, and they all worked on the first try for me.

From there, it’s just a matter of getting the hang of the voice commands that work with the services. The app tells you some commands you can use, and they’re all obvious.

The only issue I had was with using multiple music services — in my case, it was Pandora and Spotify. I wanted to listen to “Back in Black” by AC/DC, and I told Google as much.

“Hey Google, Play AC/DC Back in Black.” Unfortunately, Google decided to play a Pandora station The Best Mac Apps For Listening To Pandora The Best Mac Apps For Listening To Pandora Love Pandora, but not in your browser? Here are the best Mac apps for the job – regardless of whether you're a Pandora One subscriber. Read More based around the song instead of choosing to play the actual track on Spotify.

The fix was easy, I just needed to add “on Spotify” to the end of the spoken command, but it’s still something to think about.

Outside of that small issue, I found getting everything up and running to be a breeze. Even if you’re not very tech-savvy, Google has done a good job of guiding you through the process, and you should have no issues.

Microphone and Audio Quality

Google Home Features a far-field microphone array, so you can speak to it across the room without yelling at the top of your lungs. Well, most of the time you don’t need to be loud. If you’re blasting music and you want to tell Google to change songs or turn the volume down, it will occasionally have issues hearing you over the music. Once it does pick up your voice, it automatically turns the volume down really low to hear the command clearly, which is convenient.

Most of the time, it picked up commands easily. In fact, I was on a separate floor in my house explaining to a friend how the device worked, and I told him you just need to say “Hey, Google” to wake it up,  and next thing I knew, I heard “How can I help” coming from the speaker downstairs.

As for the speaker itself, it comes with a 2-inch driver and two 2-inch passive radiators. For a small device, it packs some punch Dolby Digital, DTS, THX: Surround Sound Standards Explained Dolby Digital, DTS, THX: Surround Sound Standards Explained Although there are only three main players in the surround sound industry, each has their own subsets of technology as it relates to surround. Read More . I live in a condo, I couldn’t comfortably listen to it at maximum volume without my neighbors being quite annoyed.

On top of being loud, the sound is considerably clean, even when pushing the volume. Of course, it will not rival a high-end speaker, but it also costs $130, and that’s with all the other stuff it can do.

Basically, if you’re looking for a speaker that’ll play your music loud enough for a small party, it’ll do the job. If you’re planning a rave, you might need a little more.

Fortunately, for those situations, you can sync multiple Google Home speakers together and have them play in sync, or you can beam to a Chromecast Audio and jam on your more powerful system.

Hey Google, Can You Entertain Me?

Google Home connects to quite a few entertainment services, but not all the big ones you might want.

Some of the notable omissions there include Apple Music Switching to Apple Music? Here's How to Import Spotify Playlists Switching to Apple Music? Here's How to Import Spotify Playlists If the only thing keeping you from jumping ship to Apple Music is the daunting task of moving your songs and playlists, we have the answer. Read More , Amazon Music, Rhapsody, Tidal, Hulu, and so on. These services could be added down the line (though it seems unlikely we’ll see Apple or Amazon added), as it stands, users of these services are missing out.

Additionally, podcast listeners don’t have a lot of options here. We would have at least expected to see Stitcher or something along those lines.

There would be any easy way to make up for those missing services, except that you can’t use Google Home as a regular Bluetooth speaker. For many, this might not be an issue if everything they listen to is on the services offered, but for me, there’s a premium, password-protected wrestling podcast that I listen to daily. There’s no way to play it short of finding a different podcast player that supports Google Cast. If you have a similar situation, it’ll make it where the Home can’t be the only speaker in your home.

Okay Google, But What About My Smart Home?

Buying one of these devices is a lot like interviewing for an actual personal assistant I Used Three Virtual Assistant Firms and This One Won I Used Three Virtual Assistant Firms and This One Won Hiring a virtual assistant is smart time management. We tested three virtual assistant services and found the pros and cons for each. Each test reveals the tips and tricks for picking the ideal personal assistant. Read More . The question you really need to ask is simple: “what can you do for me?”

As it stands Google Home offers support for quite a few popular smart home services. Here’s the complete list as of this writing:

The key thing in that list is IFTTT and OpenHAB. They open up support for all kinds of other devices that aren’t directly supported, by acting as a bridge.

For our testing, we purchased a Belkin WeMo smart plug, and it works flawlessly. I set it up so I could say “OK Google, turn on the light,” and it would turn the plug on (and off) every time, without issue or significant delay.

As time goes on, Google is planning to add more services, both on the entertainment side of the fence and on the smart home side.

 

The Verdict

So, that brings us to the big question: should you buy Google Home? The simple answer is yes, as long as you use the services it supports.

If not, it’s still a great device, but you’ll need to switch services or wait until they’re added (if they ever are). Even if you’re not particularly enthused by the smart home features Easy-to-Install Smart Home Gadgets That Make Perfect Gifts Easy-to-Install Smart Home Gadgets That Make Perfect Gifts Smart home products make terrific gifts, even for those who aren't exactly tech-savvy. The following products make great gifts, require little setup, and are beneficial to boot. Read More , being able to walk in after a long day and command Google to play you something relaxing is nice.

However, Amazon’s Echo is a slightly more capable device Amazon Echo vs. Google Home vs. Apple HomePod Amazon Echo vs. Google Home vs. Apple HomePod In this article, you'll learn the differences between the Amazon Echo and Google Home. We'll also take a look at what features an Apple speaker may include. Read More at the time of writing, with thousands of ready made skills for you to customize functionality, but it’s really going to come down to personal preference.

Our verdict of the Google Home:
Google Home is fun device that excels at answering questions from the Google knowledge graph and integrating with Google services and products. Is it better than Amazon’s Echo? Ultimately that’ll be down to personal preferences and the services you need.
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  1. himanshu
    March 6, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    seems amazing, and thank you for this awesome review i really find this site helpful please keep posting you guys are amazing

  2. hecate doe
    February 27, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Have been eager for a review that really analyzes the differences between Google Home and Amazon Echo. Would love some more details on exactly how they differ, but would love to win one of these and become a fan :).

  3. Kathy
    February 27, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Thank you for the review. Have been pondering this purchase and the information provided gives me some food for thought. Would love to win one and try it out.

  4. Dan
    February 27, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I have one, I love it, my wife and kids love it, it enhances the day, let alone the kitchen. Plays whatever music to set the mood, updates my on my day, and the weather. Connected to my nest products, my nvidia box (casting is AMAZING for the kids) and my Wink via IFTTT. And the best part, I know I'm not even utilizing 60% of the capabilities yet.

    I'd love to win one, for my parents. My dad doesn't understand how to start a new netflix series from the beginning, they still use multiple digital and written calendars and still forget events, and my mom would love this for recipes/instructions on baking. When I demo'd mine to them, they were in awe. Google hit the nail on the head with this thing.

  5. Ashley
    February 27, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    When will this device be available in the UK?

  6. Mary Ellen Davison
    February 26, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Our friends have Google Home, & love it. I would love to WIN one to use for playing Music,& also for many things our 6 grandchildren would show us Google Home can do. When Google Home was being advertised at Christmas time our youngest grandchild, Evan, who just turned 5, & has a twin brother, would often say when a question came up, we could ask Google Home.

  7. Adam Neveu
    February 25, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    I need another one mine went defective and Wal-Mart wouldn't help out :( love the speaker tho.. Can I win?

  8. Bill
    February 25, 2017 at 8:59 am

    You can listen to your podcasts by casting your phone to the Google Home and then playing the podcast or streaming music on your phone. The sound will come through the Home device only, but you'll need to control it on your phone.

  9. Joe Morales a
    February 24, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    I currently own two Google Home units and agree with the review. I use mine frequently and feel they are great for music.

  10. Gary
    February 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Would not want to buy one as I see limited use case in my family. Would like to win one to try and see if my opinion is wrong though.

    • Mary Wheeler
      February 24, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      I have one love it.Mostly use it to listen
      To music.

    • Darren B
      February 25, 2017 at 12:47 am

      Use mine for music and controlling my Phillips Hue lights. Works great! Looking forward to adding to my home setup.