Google Home Review
So I set up Google Home a couple of weeks ago and figured it had been up and running long enough for me to give a preliminary review.
So far the WAF factor (as well as children) has been meh…
Don’t get me wrong. I love gadgets. I love Google stuff. I was a big fan of the Nexus program and now am using the Pixel XL. I have several Chromecasts scattered throughout the house and am on Google Wifi. For the time being though (and maybe only temporarily, I don’t know) Alexa is kicking Google Home’s ass at my casa. Maybe because we’ve been using the Amazon product for two years now and it definitely has a place in our home. I have an Echo in the living room and three Echo Dots in other rooms. I also use Fire TV (a lot more than my Chromecasts the last few months) and they have become an extension of my home automation system (Homeseer). I can control all of the lights with Alexa as well as my thermostat, TVs, audio receivers, my CCTV system, my coffee maker, etc. Can’t do that with Home, not easily anyway.
There are workarounds. I have Autovoice set up and can ask Google home to “tell Autovoice to…” but that’s such a pain in the ass. “Alexa, turn on the TV” just comes naturally.
I don’t use very many skills with the Echo, so won’t even compare how many are available. Most of them are crap anyway.
As far as setup and ease of use, Google Home is awesome. It was painless to set up and quick. Currently I have it in my kitchen (one of the places I DON’T currently have an Echo or Dot. I spend the majority of my time in our bedroom though, so it’s not getting used as much as the other devices.
The speaker itself is decent. I’m not an audiophile so don’t have anything to complain about as far as volume and range and all that other stuff. It sounds good to me so that’s all that’s important. I like Google Home for playing my music. That’s one thing I don’t normally do with the Echo. My wife and daughter listen to Pandora all the time so Alexa is good for them. I’m not a huge Pandora fan, or spotify for that matter. I prefer listening to what’s in my own library and all 18,000 songs are on Google Music. A very small portion of it is on Amazon so if I’m listening to music it’s through Google Music casting to one of the Chromecast Audio’s here, or through Google Home.
I also like the integration with other products. Keep for instance. Except for my oldest daughter, who has an iPhone 6, we all have androids here and there are a few Keep notes that we share with each other. Our menu and grocery list are two of them. I can use workarounds and IFTTT to get that stuff from Alexa if I want but it’s a pain in the ass and as anyone who uses IFTTT can tell you, it’s not instantaneous. Usually it’s fairly quick but occasionally there’s a delay of up to an hour. With Google Home if I add something to the shopping list it’s immediately added to a Google Assistant Shopping List in Keep. Now if I could just get the wife to use THAT one instead of the one she keeps creating and sharing.
There’s a lot of other stuff I could be doing with Home, particularly with Tasker, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. As I integrate it more fully with my system I’m sure I’ll start to like it more and more. Whether the rest of the family can get used to saying something besides “Alexa…” remains to be seen.