Google Home and integrated products- Series 1

Google Home Review: One of the leading competitors in voice assistants

If there is one smart home product you cannot afford to “not” have is a voice/digital assistant that helps you with trivial-but necessary tasks such as setting up an alarm, checking your calendar, placing a call or even broadcasting a message to other connected devices at your home, all this with some simple voice commands. Google home is not a new name in this space.

Rating parameters:

  • Design & Build
  • Feature
  • Audio performance
  • IoT compatibility
  • Microphone sensitivity

Design:

Google Home comes with a simplistic and aesthetic design. It is short and weighs about 0.5 kgs and is available in white color. Its minimalistic design helps you to place the device anywhere in your home – be it in your kitchen, your living room, or your master bedroom.

Google home is cylindrical in shape with a slightly inclined touch-enabled surface at the top. The top surface panel is where you have volume controls and pause/play buttons. However, you wouldn’t need to go there since everything can be controlled by voice commands.

The microphone is situated on the lateral surface with a tiny light sensor that blinks if your Google home is active to receive commands. The lower bottom constitutes a fabric-like finish and Google provides options to have interchangeable metal and fabric bases. Check out the variety of bases available for Google home here. The variety of bases helps you to choose one that perfectly blends with your home decor. By default, the bottom quarter (base) is greyish and the rest of the surface is white.

Sound quality:

Google home differentiates itself from Google Home Mini primarily in audio quality. Google home has a rich, loud, and high-excursion sound system that provides a broader audio range at your home.

Google home is loud and has good sound quality. Bass is not up to what you are used to in the mainstream sound systems such as JBL or Bose but good enough for a digital assistant operating at this price range. I find it very helpful to have some music running on the side while doing daily home chores.

You can also cast YouTube music from your phone just like you cast YouTube videos on your smart TV. Once you integrate music apps such as Spotify/Wynk to your Google Home, you can stream the music directly from Google Home by issuing simple voice commands. You don’t need to be specific here, you can just say “Hey Google, play Rahman’s latest songs” and it will pick some songs based on your past listening history.

Google Home also has great Chromecast compatibility. So if you already have a Chromecast, all you need to say is “Hey Google, play VIMEO videos on my living room TV” and it will play some VIMEO videos on your TV

Microphone:

On the inclined top surface, if you see blinking lights, it indicates that your Google home is ready to receive commands. In earlier versions, you need to say “Hey Google” every time you want to issue a voice command even if you are in the same context. However, in the latest versions, this issue is addressed by maintaining mic continuity for approximately 8 seconds. So you can say “Hey Google, who is Roger Federer” and let google talk about Roger. Once it stops, you can ask a follow-up question “What is his age” instead of saying “Hey Google what is the age of Roger Federer” again.

Google Home comes with customizable voice options- male, female and different versions of male/female voice based on who is talking to Google home. For example, it has the ability to switch from male voice to female voice if your wife is speaking to it.

Like with many other voice assistants, Google Home occasionally picks up a voice from nowhere and starts saying things out-of-context like “Sorry, I didn’t hear you” or it randomly plays music assuming you asked for it. It annoys me sometimes but feels funny at the same time.

Stuff you can do with Google Home:

Google Home comes with a slew of smart features that helps you to boost productivity, connect with other compatible devices, listen to your favorite music/podcast, and much more.

You have very good smart home connectivity with Google home. There are thousands of products in the market that are positioning themselves with Google voice assistant compatibility. Your smart thermostats can talk to Google home and adjust the temperature accordingly. You have light bulbs, plugs, refrigerators, and even vacuum cleaners that work with Google home.

Here are some cool things you can do with Google Home

  • Play games with it- yes, you have interactive games such as ‘Riddle of the day’ and ‘Trivia’
  • Call an Uber
  • Perform Math calculations- Not everyone is Shakuntala Devi
  • Almost everything that comes in Google smart search- Live scores, weather, and other similar stuff
  • Connect to your TV (I have my TCL Roku TV connected to it) and use Google Home to navigate through the content
  • Control your home temperature and more with Nest thermostat
  • Integration with a wide range of smart home products- your light bulbs, Nest camera, Doorbells etc.
  • Listen to News, podcasts, and audiobooks
  • Integrate Google Home with Chromecast

You can ask for fun jokes or even cook great food using Google’s recipe assistance.

Some of the above tasks are done directly with Google Home and some are done using compatible devices such as Smart TVs that have Google Home integration, Chromecast, and Light bulbs.

Compatible products- IOT:

We compiled some mainstream products that are being used with Google home. Here are some:

  • Play Music from Popular Streaming Services
  • Sonos speakers – Home audio
  • Sony’s Amazing noise-canceling headphones- sony wf1000xm3
  • All Google Nest products such as Nest Hub Max, Nest Cam, Nest Learning Thermostat, and Nest Wifi. Check out Nest product reviews here
  • TCL Roku TV and many other smart TVs
  • JBL Link (Built-in Google assistant)
  • Lenovo Smart Display 10 and Lenovo smart clock
  • LiFx Plus Wi-Fi smart bulb
  • Belkin WeMo’s dimmable smart switch

If you want to be economical and willing to compromise on just sound quality, Google Home has a mini version called Google mini that costs you ~4000 INR. you can also buy a compatible cool looking bulb that switches on/off using voice commands such as “Hey Google, switch off the light”.

Our verdict:

There are not many players when it comes to voice assistants such as Google Home. Alexa is a strong competitor to Google Home and Apple’s Siri is catching up with the trend. Also, Google has the advantage of integrating its whole ecosystem into Google Home- emails, android apps, calendar events, and so on. Google Home is getting smarter with every release and we believe digital assistants will be there in every household in the coming decade. Smart home products are rapidly going mainstream and Google Home is already in a comfortable space to take a major share. If you don’t want to miss out on the trend, it’s time to grab one.

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