Google Home is Google's new direct competitor to Amazon’s Echo and they want it to be the epicenter of your smart home. With the new Google Assistant built-in, Google Home could be the hands free personal assistant of your dreams.
Google Home comes in a tall white box and presentation is top notch when unboxing the device. Simply slide out the top part and then flip the lid and you will immediately be greeted with your Google Home. The rest of the box is pretty bare and the only things left inside are your quick start and information guides and a non removable proprietary connector and wall adaptor.
The Google Home is an interesting looking device. Some say that it resembles that of air freshener and I am inclined to agree. You can customize the look by unscrewing the bottom mesh part of the hub but you are limited to the various color options that Google has in stock. The bottom is where you will find your four speakers and a micro USB port which at first I was very confused about but from what I have read this is simply for servicing if something was to go wrong with your Home. There are no visible buttons on the front but you do have a touch dial on top to control things like your volume simply by sliding in a circular motion. The back is where your only physical button lies and that is of course a mute button.
If you were to compare the Amazon Echo and Google Hub, you would no doubt see the drastic difference. Google went with a modern look but something that definitely just blends into the background and might not get recognized as a piece of tech at first glance. The same can NOT be said for the Echo, with a taller more obvious look. As far as speakers go, these two are pretty much pound for pound. They can easily fill up a small quiet room and the sound is pretty balanced and decent.
Setting up your Hub is just as simple as you might think. First, you will need to download the Google Home app. This is the same app that you will use to connect your Chromecast, so you may already have it downloaded. Once it's installed, click the add button in the top right corner and follow the on screen instructions. It does take about 10 minutes but the actual setup process is no more than a few simple taps.
Once you get everything set up, you might be thinking...now, what? Well, the app does give you an idea of some of the things you can ask it but to me, the Google Home will be a quick and easy way for me to get information quickly and control my smart home devices without having to use my phone. I have had many occasions where my hands are full but I need to turn the lights on or even adjust my Nest thermostat. Simply say "Ok Google" and change your thermostat to whatever temperature you want. At this moment, the Google Home is only compatible with Nest, Phillips Hue, and Samsung's Smart Things. This, of course, will change and more third party devices and apps will be supported.
So which one should you buy? Google Home or Amazon Echo? Well, it's definitely early and so I can’t really give you final answer but if you have to have all of your obscure smart home devices controlled today, you might want to check out the Echo, since it's been on the market longer, there has been more time for development and device support. However, this is Google we're talking about here and you know all the smart home devices and apps will be supported very soon.
Another cool feature to point out is that if you have multiple Homes set up throughout your house, you can play music through all of them at the same time and have a whole home audio system. I can't really test that right now since I only have one but might consider picking up another for this feature in the future.
To me, both of these devices will work relatively the same but the Google Home has more opportunity for growth. It’s definitely a bit more conversational when asking about certain topics or people. The only negative so far is you have to keep saying "Ok Google" after every response but this is no different than saying Alexa with the Echo.
So if you want to be able to control your home, plan your day, get the news, listen to some music and add things to your to do list all without having to use your phone, then you're going to want to pick one of these up!