Review: Google Home

0
1

I’d be lying if I said unplugging my Amazon Echo didn’t feel a bit like a breakup. “Alexa,” I whispered while pulling the plug, “it’s just for now.” But it wasn’t Alexa, it was me. More specifically, it was someone else. I needed the space for Google Home.

The $129 Home smart speaker plays a vital role in Google’s futuristic vision of “a Google for everyone,” powered by its omnipresent Assistant. Virtually nothing about it is new; it’s like some Googler bought an Echo and wondered if, uh, maybe Google should make one, too. (I mean, the product development timeline does allow for this.) It’s not a knock-off, though. Google aspires to another level of power, personalization, and accuracy—not to mention a cuter package than the goth tennis ball can Amazon designed.

I like Home. It provides much of what Echo offers, while signaling far more product and platform ambition than Amazon. Great potential is worth only so much, though, and Amazon seems to understand better than anyone what’s possible with these devices right now. Sometimes Home feels like sci-fi magic. Sometimes it reaches beyond its grasp and falls flat. The Echo is less impressive, but more reliable.

The good news is, you can’t go wrong here. You’ll like them both, though neither is perfect. The question is how much you’re willing to bet on what these devices could be, and which company you think can deliver on that promise.

Speaker of the House

Any gadget sitting front-and-center in your home had better look nice. Home does. It sits 6 inches tall, with a bulbous bottom and a sharply sloped top which makes it easy to see the four lights that indicate Home is listening or working. It looks like something you might plant a succulent in, or a modernist orange juice carafe. Or an air freshener.