10 Takeaways From My Tryout of the Google Home Smart Appliance

10 Takeaways From My Tryout of the Google Home Smart Appliance
Google Home Has a Nice Design
The Setup Process Is Great
The More Skills, the Better
The Microphone Quality Is Stellar
The Sound Quality Is Sub-Par
It’s a Little too Google-Reliant
It’s More Smart Home than Entertainment
No Quirks to Speak Of
Google’s Promise for the Future
The Price Is Right
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10 Takeaways From My Tryout of the Google Home Smart Appliance

Although Google Home’s performance justifies its price tag, it had a few shortcomings that demonstrate it's not an Amazon Echo Replacement—not yet, at least.

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Google Home Has a Nice Design

It’s hard to find fault with Google Home’s design. The device is surprisingly small and attractive, fitting in any room with ease. Its base unscrews and can be replaced with another color to match the décor. And since it has a cylindrical design, it can deliver solid audio quality in 360 degrees.

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The Setup Process Is Great

Setting up the Google Home took no time. I took the device out of the box, plugged it in, turned it on and connected my Google account to it through my Google Home app. I also set up my many entertainment accounts, including Pandora, and even took advantage of a free trial of Google’s YouTube Red music service. The setup process was outstanding.

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The More Skills, the Better

You see more benefits of using Google Home the more services you add and skills you try. Asking the device to turn on the lights through my Philips Hue was handy, but not special. Being able to search Google for information, create a shopping list and find local places, however, was a treat. Google has been adding skills since the Home’s release, and I’ve found them all to be useful.

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The Microphone Quality Is Stellar

To get the full benefit from Google Home, you need to be able to control your devices and services with your voice, so the microphone quality is critical. And luckily, Google Home’s microphone is outstanding. Even using my normal voice across the room, Google Home could understand what I was saying and respond accordingly. Google did a great job with a critical feature in Home.

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The Sound Quality Is Sub-Par

Unfortunately, Google Home doesn’t keep pace with Amazon Echo on sound quality. At times, audio became muddied and the bass was too deep. I also found vocal clarity was lacking. For a device that portends to be a must-have smart-home appliance, Google Home misses the market on audio quality.

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It’s a Little too Google-Reliant

It’s understandable that a product made by Google would rely on its many services to operate. The Amazon Echo is similar in that regard. However, those who aren’t Google users might have some trouble with Home and wonder whether it’s a worth their money. Here’s the truth: If you’re not a Google user and don’t like the idea of being one, skip this device.

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It’s More Smart Home than Entertainment

Where Google Home shines is in its control of smart-home devices. It can take control over your lights with Philips Hue ably. And since Google owns Nest, I was able to change my home temperature with a simple voice command. Google Home even integrates with Samsung’s SmartThings smart home platform. However, on the entertainment side, Google Home is anemic, offering only a handful of audio services to try out, including two from the search giant. While Google Home has added more entertainment platforms in recent weeks, it still is best as a smart-home controller.

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No Quirks to Speak Of

Google Home has no readily apparent quirks. Sure, the speaker is a disappointment and it could use more service support, but Google Home is a reliable device overall. I can say the same for the Google Home app, which is well-built, worked as prescribed on my iPhone and didn’t crash. Those who want a reliable hardware-software combination will find it in Google Home.

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Google’s Promise for the Future

Google knows that Home is a little behind the times compared to Echo. But the company recently expanded programs that should bring more app developers into the fold to support Google Home. Moreover, Google has promised more service support in the future. Those willing to be patient with Google Home could see their patience pay off sometime in the future.

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The Price Is Right

For what it is—a nice but not top-of-the-line smart-home device—the Google Home is priced right at $129. It’s substantially cheaper than the Amazon Echo but more expensive than some third-party smart home devices that aren’t as good as Google’s product. In terms of overall value, Google Home delivers.

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