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REVIEWS

Apple iPhone X

Microsoft Xbox One X

Miele Blizzard CX1 Hardfloor PowerLine

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Sonos One Smart Speaker

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Anki Overdrive - Fast and Furious Edition

Apple TV 4K

Google Home Mini

Fitbit Flyer

Fitbit Ionic

Huawei P10

Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular

2018 Toyota C-HR

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Nomad leather case for iPhone 8 Plus

Alcatel A50

Tile Pro Sport smart tracker

27-inch Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display

Anki Cozmo programmable robot

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Motorola Moto Z2 Play

Google Home

Sennheiser HD-1 in ear wireless headphones

Motorola Moto E4

Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch

BlackBerry KEYone

Philips Hue Smart Lighting System

insta360 nano 360 camera for iPhone

2017 Cadillac CT6 Luxury

UAG Rugged Case for Surface Book

Motorola Moto G5

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

Linksys VELOP Whole Home Mesh Network

Fitbit Alta HR

2016 Range Rover

2016 Ford Flex Limited

Timex IQ+ Move fitness tracking watch

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature

2016 Mazda MX-5

Sennheiser PXC-550 Bluetooth headphones

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4MATIC Sedan

Sudio Regent Bluetooth headphones

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

VisionTek SoundTube PRO Bluetooth speaker

Fitbit Charge 2

2017 GMC Acadia Denali

Apple AirPods

Apple MacBook Pro (Late 2016)

808

Game of Thrones Season Six Blu-Ray

Michelin Premier all-season tires

Tom Tom Spark 3 Cardio +

Google Daydream View VR headset

ASUS ZenBook 3

Jaybird X3

JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod

« Procreate releases update for the new iPads & teases a major update for the fall | Main | MEC launches new website that inspires city folks to get outside »
Monday
Jun262017

Review: Google Home

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Google Home is Google’s smart speaker which connects via WiFi (or, even better, via Google WiFi) to Google’s smart assistant in the cloud. Designed to be connected at home, Google home uses voice as the primary means of control. It is available in Canada from Best Buy and online from Google.

For $ 179.00, Canadians can get their hands on Google Home, a voice-activated smart speaker, powered by the Google Assistant in English and French.

This diminutive speaker has a rather charming zen-like design. Some say it looks like an aromatherapy gadget, which is fine since it is created to sort of blend in to your home. I Installed Google Home in my kitchen/breakfast nook area and it is ideal for query and control situations when I have my hands full from preparing food or washing dishes.

I can ask Google home to play music from my Spotify and Google Play Music subscriptions. I can ask it to play songs by title, genre, artist and even ask music trivia. I already have various Spotify playlists and it is easy enough to access them directly by voice.

Google Home is smart enough to scour other services, it can play live radio (using the TuneIn app), play my favourite podcasts and even NPR, CBC, BBC and ESPN news bytes. Converesely, you can have it play sounds of the sea, or white noise as well as various animal sounds which children find entertaining.

Google Home can set multiple alarms (for when you’re cooking various dishes), it can quickly compute, calculate and convert. If you have a nearby TV with a Chromecast, you can ask it to play recipes from YouTube, or control Netflix by voice.

The control for video and audio can be granular, you can tell it to play back the past 5 minutes or fast forward 30 minutes and it will do so without issue. It must be mentioned that much of the development of the Google Home app was done right here in Google's Waterloo campus, so Canadian innovation is definitely present here.

Google Home can work as the hub for Philips Hue lights which can be open, closed and dimmed. Moreover, using IFTTT (If This Then That), it is easy to set moods and various colour coordinated lighting situations (i.e. get the lights to have similar theme or mood to the show your’e watching).

Having used the device at home for around a week, it has evolved from a curiosity to a part of our routines. I use Google Home to keep me updated on my schedule. It gives us news briefs and even plays my son’s favourite music playlists to put him to sleep. There’s a lot that Google Home can do out of the box, the feature set can be expanded using various third party services and if features from the US version trickle in, it should be able to even make Canadian and US VoIP phone calls free of charge.

For Canadians, Google Home remains the only true home assistant technology that’s designed for Canadian users. While you can use Amazon Echo and it will work, it hasn’t been localized for Canada so you miss out on a lot of features with no guarantee that Amazon will ever bring them in.

Apple’s HomePods aren’t coming to Canada until 2018. Even then, the device is focused more as a connected speaker than as a Siri-connected device. HomePods will certainly offer the best audio quality and at a more premium price, but as for smarts and ability to interact with various services and IoT devices, that remains to be seen. Apple is more likely to use Apple-vetted services, which might limit the HomePod’s range of capabilities.

Google Home does okay as a speaker. I use it mainly for podcasts and news so I don’t mind that it sometimes sounds muffled or heavy on lower frequencies. There’s no way to tweak sound settings via an app, which is a missed opportunity. Still, you can get various Google Home smart speakers for various rooms in the home and even cast to speakers or TVs using Chromecast devices which offer inexpensive expansion and reach.

Conclusion:


Google Home is a demonstration of Google's awesome collection of knowledge sources, from the latest news, weather information, podcasts, music and various smart home and automation services, this is the first smart speaker that opens up a world of possibilities for Canadians.

Th best thing about Google Home is that today we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of what this impressive and potentially game-changing voice-driven conduit to various cloud-based services and technologies.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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