Google Home smart speaker First impressions


That technology can excite, mesmerise and fascinate is a well-known facet. At the same time, like with most other things, there is a dark side to it which can be scary. Considering the times we live in (read the whole Facebook privacy invasion debate), sharing more information with all-things tech has become a part of the discourse.

At such a time, Google has launched its Google Home smart speakers in India. It’s an intriguing device and yet the more you use it, there’s a sense of scepticism about what all you share that rises up every time you use it. Keeping the fear and scepticism aside, we spent some time with the Google Home smart speaker and here is our first impression. There’s no denying the fact the Google Home is a device that grabs your attention. It’s a conversational piece (pun unintended) and the minute you switch on, it has all your attention.

Almost a cylindrical shape, Google Home comes in a neat box with an all-white cable. To switch it on, you need to have the Google Home app installed on your phone and a reliable Wi-Fi connection. To connect and install the speaker is a breeze and the whole process is self-explanatory as you start using it. “Hey Google, how was my day” we asked the Google Home. It tells you your name, the time of the day, how the weather is outside and even where you just commuted from. All these settings can be customised.

For example, the default setting is that how your day command would end with Google telling you the top news of the day. At the top of the Google Home, there are touch-capacitive buttons and four LED lights which flash in Google-themed colours. It’s lovely to look at and easy to use – that’s two pluses to begin with. What did come as a surprise is that there's no Bluetooth connectivity in the Google Home and also that it runs only on a power adapter. We used the Google Home to play some music. “Ok Google, play some Pink Floyd” and Wish You Were Here was immediately played. Bored in the middle of any song? Just say, “Ok Google, that’s enough” and it will stop on cue. As a standalone music speaker, this is a good device. The volume levels aren’t really exceptional but will meet the needs of most average users. You can also tell Google Home to reduce and increase the volume and does follow the command.

Since it works with Chromecast, we also used Google Home to play YouTube videos on a television. You do get a bit fatigued by saying "Ok Google" and "Hey Google" to the Google Assistant before each command. With the review unit, Google did send us a couple of smart home devices like Philips Hue bulb and smart controller. We haven’t had the time to review those products in detail but we will be writing about it in our complete review. There’s a lot Google Home can do for you but the key for it being a supremely smart speaker is simple: information. The more information you share, the smarter the device becomes. Sometimes there’s a very thin line between a gimmicky product and a product high on functionality.

In the case of Google Home, it seems like that currency is money and information. Spend more on smart gadgets and get the full functional value of Google Home. Give it more information and it becomes your truly smart assistant. In the next couple of days, we will be doing both. Read our detailed review soon to find out if Google Home is worth the hype and hoopla and does it have to take it on Amazon and its Alexa and Echo range of devices.

 

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