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Google Home review – smart speaker that can inform, organise and entertain

It’s taken a few months to get here but Google Home – the speaker powered by Google Assistant – was sure worth the wait and can help you in every room of your house.

The speaker might be small – it’s a shade over 14cm tall – but it can be a big help every day.

Think of it like a friend that knows everything that’s constantly on call.

You can ask questions, get it do things, play your music, keep you up-to-date and get you ready for your day. You can even ask it to tell you a joke.

And it doesn’t matter what type of phone you use. Google Home connects to your home broadband network – not your phone.

All you need to say is “OK Google” and you’ll see the coloured lights appear on top of the speaker.

This is your cue to ask your question or command.

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And the great thing about it, is that it understands our Australian accents perfectly. And our slang so if you ask where the nearest servo is, for example, it knows you mean a service station.

Not only that, but it can also recognise the multiple voices in your household.

Google Home is really easy to set up and just as easy to link your music services, video services and your smart devices so now you can control them with your voice.

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The sound quality of the speaker is actually quite impressive so your music will sound nice and large despite coming from a relatively small speaker.

We found it particularly helpful when we were trying to get things done.

For example, when you’re rushing to get ready in the morning but don’t have time to sit at your computer or look at your phone to find out what’s on your calendar or the state of the traffic for your drive to work, Google Home comes to the rescue.

By asking “what does my day look like” and “how’s the traffic for my drive to work” we got all the information we needed and didn’t have to stop all we were doing.

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You could not only hear about your calendar, but also add calendar events just by talking to Google Home.

It’s the same thing to find out the weather and even your flight status. The more you use it, the better it will get.

That convenience extends to home control with Google already partnering with Philips Hue lighting and IFTTT (If This Then That) with many more to come.

Setting up connected devices took a little time and wasn’t as smooth and seamless as we hoped but once connected it worked fine.

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Users can also ask to set reminders and timers and even get instant answers to questions like metric conversions, complex mathematical calculations or just how to say a certain word in a different language.

There are so many other commands, too numerous to fit in this review.

Just to give you an idea you can also ask it word meanings, nearest restaurants, medical information, distances and even famous quotes.

You can ask it to count, come up with a random number, set an alarm and find out what time it is in another city.

You can even ask Google Home what sound a kookaburra makes and it will play the sound.

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Speaking of sound, Google home can also handle your music and podcasts through YouTube, Spotify, Google Play Music and TuneIn Radio.

In the kitchen, you can ask about measurement conversions, how many calories are in a type of food, how to make certain types of dishes and much more even of your hands are covered with ingredients.

Users can also tell Google Home to add items to a shopping list and check that shopping list.

You can also ask Google to turn lights on and off if you’ve got Philips connected Hue lighting or a Belkin WeMo switch.

Another feature we really liked was being able to ask Google Home to start playing your favourite show on your TV through Netflix or Stan.

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This is possible with a Google Chromecast attached to an input of your TV. And it will even remember what episode you’re up to.

As you get to know Google Home, you will quickly find out it is quite a capable device with seemingly no limit to what it can tell you.

You can certainly have a lot of fun asking different questions and getting some funny responses in return.

There are hundreds of Easter eggs which reveal some funny answers and hidden tricks.

Here are some of our favourites that you can try for yourself:

– OK Google, what is the meaning of life?

– OK Google, I’m naked.

– OK Google, who shot first?

– OK Google, I am your father Luke.

– OK Google, open the pod bay doors.

– OK Google, can you rap?

– OK Google, Hodor.

– OK Google, do you ever get tired?

– OK Google, what are the three laws of robotics.

– OK Google, is your refrigerator running?

…. and there’s many, many more.

Google Home is available now for $199 from JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, Telstra stores from the online Google store.

VERDICT

Google Home is a handy and affordable smart speaker that will become an indispensable part of your life to keep you informed and entertained.

It’s taken a few months to get here but Google Home – the speaker powered by Google Assistant - was sure worth the wait and can help you in every room of your house. The speaker might be small – it’s a shade over 14cm tall – but it can be a big help every day. Think of it like a friend that knows everything that’s constantly on call. You can ask questions, get it do things, play your music, keep you up-to-date and get you ready for your day. You can even ask it to tell you a joke.…

Google Home

Rating - 90%

90%

PROS: Easy to set up, affordable, decent audio quality, amazing source of information, gets better the more you use it.

CONS: Took a while to link smart devices.

VERDICT: Google Home is a handy and affordable smart speaker that will become an indispensable part of your life to keep you informed and entertained.

User Rating: 0.78 ( 2 votes)

About Stephen Fenech

Stephen is the Tech Guide editor and one of Australia's most respected tech journalists. He is a regular on radio and TV talking about the latest tech news, products and trends.

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  • Jack Smith

    We have both the Echo since it launched and now the Google Home. IMO, the GH has already surpassed the Echo.

    I suspect since the Echo was first it is inertia versus reality why there is push back on this fact from time to time.

    Just the foundation of the two are very different. The Echo takes the sounds of your voice and turns it into words that are then used as commands.

    The GH takes the sound of your voice and turns into words but then has an additional layer of intelligence that it knows who is who and also understands what the words mean and gets concepts that then trigger actions.

    This is why you do NOT have a manual with the GH with commands you memorize as you do with the Echo.

    In our home it is why I believe the GH is integrated and the Echo was always my toy. I was motivated to learn the commands and memorize and then use the Echo and my family just was not as motivated to do so.

  • Bruce

    I agree with Trev on TBTT, until they integrate paid G-Suite for us it’s useless as I have my families emails accounts on my business account so none us can use allot of the features. Plus we cant purchase Google Music family account (not possible with business service) so have gone with Spotify