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Google Home Review

google home review

After spending the past few weeks with Google Home running my home, the time has come for our review. Since this is one of those newish product categories, it wasn’t going to be fair to do this in less than 24 hours or even a week, because products like this aren’t smartphones. We all live with them differently, but also since we don’t use them constantly throughout a day like a smartphone, it’s impossible to know if your life needs one without thoroughly testing it for days on end. 

My setup for the past few weeks has included three Google Home units spread around in various rooms. I’ve had one in my office, since I spend the majority of my day in here, along with another near the kitchen and in our master bedroom. These spots are the most trafficked and seemed like they would get the most use.

I’ve also got a Nest Thermostat in home, picked up a bunch of Philips Hue lights for testing, and have enough Chromecast-enabled devices around to create a robotic AI web of death, should the world ever get there. In other words, I think my house is setup quite nicely to get the most out of Google Home.

You’ll get the full details on how this setup has worked for me in the Google Home review video below, but my approach was simple. Instead of using light switches, I tried to use Home to turn them on or off. Instead of getting my lazy a** up or pulling out my phone to adjust the temperature in my house, I used Home there as well. I used the Cast functionality to play music at various spots, tried the YouTube video casting once or twice, set timers and alarms, checked the weather frequently, and used Home to help create weekly grocery lists. I’m telling you, I went all out.

So what’s the final verdict? My heavy investment in smart home products certainly didn’t come cheap and won’t mimic most homes. With that said, Home as the hub to control a majority of it has certainly made my house smarter and simpler to control. I know I’m a believer in Home and am looking forward to the improvements that are to come. If you are ready to start your smart home, a central figure like Google Home is a great place to start.

You can buy Google Home at VerizonBest BuyWalmartTarget, and the Google Store.

  • Jake Howell

    Cool review on some of the little things Google Home can do. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpjGXXLHxyc

  • I should have picked up a 3rd one during Black Friday sales.

  • Justin Martin

    Do I have to get the Hues Phillips starter pack with the bridge, or can I just get the lights, and use Google Home as the Bridge?

    • harrisondisc

      No, you need a bridge.

      • Justin Martin

        Yeah, thanks. I got the Phillip Hue starter kit. It is awesome!!

  • Walter Partlo

    Is the GH sitting on an Ikea/Samsung wireless charger when he is asking about the weather?

  • RWW

    I was shocked it was able to handle this: “Ok Google… play Donald Trump skits from Saturday Night Live on the living room TV.” Alec Baldwin popped up and it worked perfectly. Amazing.

  • I have three Google Homes throughout my house, and all three of them make music that sounds like it’s coming out of the bottom of a barrel — with over represented bass that distorts if pushed too far. The Echo’s sound is superior, and a Chromecast Audio plugged into a $99 speaker (like an old MOTOROKR EQ7) is far superior to both. This didn’t bother you?

    As someone who has outfitted most switches with ZWave or Lutron ClearConnect products, Wink made much more sense than SmartThings (and replacing the bulbs with smart bulbs without changing the switches seems ugly as it requires forgetting that the switches exist). But GHome still doesn’t support Wink (unlike Alexa). That doesn’t bother you?

    Finally, in order for GHome to directly control Cast-enabled devices like Vizio SmartCast soundbars, they have to have Cast 1.21 firmware which is still not unrolling very quickly. You can still cast to them within speaker groups but not directly. To me, it’s really annoying that a simple Cast session cannot be setup with GHome with the older Cast 1.18 firmware even though casting works fine from the phone. No comments on how GHome dropped the ball on making sure their product integrates with non-Google Cast-enabled devices?

    GHome has a lot of catching up to do. Alexa will control Sonos in 2017, which will give them multi-room audio and thus more competitive ability.

  • Bradley Melnyk

    The one thing that is a pet peeve of mine with this google home, is the top is slanted. If you are behind the unit and say the wake word, you don’t really know if it heard you. With echo, she had a flat top clearly visible and you know if she heard you, plus like you mention, echo has a better mic, sometimes i find myself having to say ok google multiple times.

  • mjessup

    Great, thoughtful review. Thanks Kellen.

  • NexusMan

    Enjoyed the review. No joke, though, I watched it on YouTube last night and the picture froze on 1 of the 1st close ups of the rear of Home, but the sound continued and the image remained crystal clear, so it wasn’t until almost the end of the review that there was an error of my playback. I was reading all the comments commending Kellen on his camera work and how well it was shot, and at 1st I thought everyone was being sarcastic and then I was like “is something wrong with these people? He has an 8 minute review with just a close up shot of half of the back of the device!” Then I realized something was wrong. LOL. Anyway, looks great.

  • Brian Watters

    Google should never released this product before it was truly ready for market, it’s not as if Google does not have the development resources, Echo is far more mature and way more third party support today and Google should have come out with a home run rather than an almost Echo product with promises of more to come.

    • NexusMan

      It is ready. It does a lot of things, but clearly they want people using it, and data from real world use to continue to develop it. Amazon released the Echo to a beta market for 7 full months before it’s general release. Google is probably betting on getting far quicker development by having every consumer have access to it in those 1st 7 months, rather than a limited amount of people like Amazon chose.

      • Brian Watters

        Google has over 55,000 employee’s, certainly they could have done a better job if they only deployed to a small group of their own employee’s, I would say also that Alexa while it was deployed some years back prior to release via smaller control group MUCH has been learned from this deployment and further much is known that Google has failed to deploy in one degree or not within their own effort. Google could clearly have done a better job, Google Home feels like they pushed this product out the door well before it was ready and maybe due to some other dead line that has yet to be disclosed or worse yet they wanted it out prior to Christmas.

        • Prototype

          The worst thing will be if the updates for future units don’t get pushed to the OGs, but I definitely agree Google doesn’t put the time and polish in that it should always. I’m sure they wanted it out for this holiday season, though.

        • NexusMan

          The whole point for a “universal” product like this is to have it used on the daily by regular people NOT in your company…and people actually interested enough in it to pay for it.

        • NexusMan

          Hey, I own, I’m enjoying it, and I look forward to see what comes to it in the months to come. So I’m glad it was released when it was so I have the pleasure of using it.

    • jkflipflop98

      Google has access to the largest database of knowledge on the planet. They can draw from their massive store of information to power their device. That’s something that no one else has. The echo is basically just a cheap commercial for Amazon and it’s always trying to push you into buying something. The Google home never tries to sell you anything. It’s just there to do it’s job.

  • Bert Gregory

    The author wrote, “…I’ve also got a Nest Thermostat…” which translates to “I have also got…” Blithering idiot, where did you take your English courses?

  • John

    Had my headphones on at work, looked away, music started playing and my heart skipped a beat. I thought I accidentally visited an extremely NSFW site….

  • efergie

    I have two Google Homes, Chromecast audio on my receiver, Chromecast on my TV, SmartThings hub, GE Z-wave light dimmers, and a Z-wave relay on my gas fireplace. All work well together. I believe Google Home has much better long term potential than Amazon Echo. Goggle Home can easily catch up to Amazon’s “skills” (unless re-ordering dog food from Amazon via voice command is a priority). Amazon can’t easily catch up to Google’s integrated services, search engine, knowledge base and artificial intelligence. I think another review in 6 months will show a tighter race between the two devices.

    • But GHome doesn’t yet support Wink, which means they also don’t support Lutron ClearConnect. Slightly older homes won’t have neutral wires available in every switch gang box, which means Lutron’s Caseta wireless is the only cost effective option. Wink supports both ZWave and ClearConnect, unlike SmartThings. GHome really needs to return support ClearConnect directly or Wink to fill this gap.

      Personally, I like the functionality of the Pico remotes (that can pair to multiple dimmers/switches simultaneously and can mount with a Decora plate by themselves without any wires), and so I only use Caseta everywhere I need a dimmer even if a neutral is available. Sadly, these devices are invisible to GHome at the moment.

  • Kevin Talbot

    Why is Kellen wearing a toke in his home while reviewing Google Home? He set his home to 67 degrees he should be warm.

  • Tommysmallss

    If it had access to my entire music library and a lower price, I might go for it.

    • NexusMan

      What do you listen to your music on? It has access to my entire library, but I use Google Play Music…and iTunes before that.

      • Tommysmallss

        All my music is on Google play now. I heard you have to make a play list for Google Home to access it. It just can’t access your whole library. Is that correct?

  • shelderman

    They put Google Home on Modern Family. Check out the very last scene after the commercials. Pretty funny.

    • Higher_Ground

      I know it’s the holiday season but primetime broadcast TV (or maybe just ABC in general) has really, really taken product placement/native advertising overboard.

      It might have been over a couple of days but I had just watched Blackish where they were pitching Surface Pro 3’s and had the guy at the table obnoxiously turn/adjust is apple laptop a couple times to face the camera.

      The scene was mildly amusing and I know they do a lot of infomercial type of shorts but I wanted to gag since it just seemed so unnecessary and pandering.

    • Tiuri Elvander

      http://imgur.com/SjddJVr
      I tried to post this in the Android subreddit, but apparently it’s off-topic.

    • Tiuri Elvander

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/70493b036d2435a661d37fce304d6b80460b1d38c8d7b56c96de5acda87f3d3e.jpg

      Tried to post this in the Android sub-reddit, but apparently that would be off-topic

  • Nick V

    I carried one around the store at Best Buy on Black Friday, but eventually put it back and walked out without it. At this time it is just a gimmick. I have almost no faith in this device, or whether it will ever get the features that would make it worthwhile. I spent about 30 minutes with it in the store, and I just couldn’t bring myself to think of anything I could do with this, that would justify the purchase. Not that it isn’t a cool device, or doesn’t seem like it would be nice to have.

  • hiway12

    Home couldn’t find my Google calendar. After several days I gave up, sent it back and now use Echo exclusively (which found the calendar right away) For all the resources Google has, I got just as many ‘idk’s’ as Echo. Going to add a Dot upstairs…..

    • NexusMan

      It doesn’t have good Google Calendar which is 1 of the biggest glaring launch problems…how does Google Home not properly integrate with Google Calendar? You’re absolutely right. I’m still enjoying mine though. However, I feel like the voice detection has gotten worse….I’m curious if anyone else feels that way.

  • ChrisI

    My wife REALLY wants this or the Echo for Christmas. But I seriously can’t get over voluntarily putting a microphone in my home 24/7……anyone else have any privacy concerns with this thing?

    • Brian

      I personally have no issue with it. I have three Google Homes and two Echos. Depending on what your wife may want it for, the Echo has much better sound for music. The echo is also compatible with a ton of different devices. As of now, the Google Home works with a few things in my home, but not nearly as much as the Echo. Google Home seems to have a bit of a funnier “personality” too.

      • ChrisI

        How can I be certain that Google isn’t listening to every single little thing that goes on INSIDE my home and providing it to intel agencies? I mean INSIDE my home is practically the only place left on the planet where I have some privacy and aren’t under surveillance every step I take in this country. I get very nervous about VOLUNTARILY putting one of these in the middle of my house

        • illregal

          Hook it up to a traffic monitor. It only listens when you say the magic words.

        • SlyKrysis

          I’m not huge on privacy or security, because whatever you think you have secured or protected most likely is already breached. BUT, if you’re that paranoid about putting this in your home, but you’re not paranoid about having a smartphone (assuming you have one) with a microphone carried on you day-in and day-out, then it’s essentially the same thing.

          • ChrisI

            That’s just it, my smartphone certainly is not with me 24/7 day-in and day-out. I know that if I leave it on my nightstand, or inside my backpack, or in the cupholder in my truck, that’s where it stays. I have electrical tape over my FFC, always have GPS and BT turned off if not needed. My home is the last sanctuary I have for some flippin’ privacy. I want my technology to only be “working” when I need it to, but even though, I’d like to know that Google isn’t giving some secret backdoor line to everyone’s home to collect more audio metadata.

          • dabug91

            If you’re an American who thinks you have privacy, you’re delusional.

          • NexusMan

            Not only a microphone but a camera and a tracker!

        • NexusMan

          We could spend all day worrying about that, security cameras in our home, computer cameras and mics, and smartphones too. Or we could proceed and enjoy the use of these devices with caution.

          • ChrisI

            Isn’t that what I’m doing? Asking if I can enjoy this device with caution? How can I be sure?

          • NexusMan

            You’ve got to keep in mind the facts that it listens when queried, has a mute button, and take into consideration the benefits of such a device and how it would fit into your personal life. Then weigh the good against the bad. I used to be the same way with you in regards to other areas of technology, and finally gave into Google Now on the smartphone because for me, the benefits far outweighed any negative concerns I had.

        • dabug91

          You do realize your phone is equipped with a microphone and is closer to you at all times than a Google Home would be, right? Maybe you should just join the Amish and get yourself a log cabin and horse and buggy. Believe me, nobody cares to spy in on your uninteresting life.

          • ChrisI

            Insightful, thanks.

    • PerhapsNever

      You can monitor the traffic to and from the device (and I have). It ONLY wakes up and sends packets to the Internet when queried. There is also a hard microphone button on the back that you can toggle so that it isn’t always listening. That kind of defeats the purpose of it though.

      As others have said, if you have security or privacy concerns, perhaps it’s not the product for you. Personally, I can care less. If they REALLY want to listen in on my boring, mundane conversations, so be it. They obviously need to get a life because I’m about as boring as they come. 🙂

    • NexusMan

      As others have commented, it’s only listening when queried, but if I’m ever in a situation where extreme privacy is more of a pressing concern, I will definitely use the mute button.

  • kevdog

    Why do I get the feeling Google is going to be yet again schizophrenic with Google Home — this device will plod along again — and then Google will lose its focus and then release something else which isn’t remotely compatible with the old version. I always get the impression google is releasing things into the wild and throwing things at the wall to see what sticks —- and then walk away when boredom sits in

    • dabug91

      You’re severely mistaken. The Google Home represents the core of the Google brand itself: Search & Google Assistant, quick and easy access to vast swaths of information with superb speech recognition.

  • fritzo2162

    My only gripe is it’s not a router. It would have differentiated it from Amazon is they made it a router.

    • PerhapsNever

      There’s no opportunity to make money off a product like that. Also, it’s meant to be a multi-product device. Do you really want 3 or more routers in your house? Even with mesh networking (like Google WiFi), it’s still overkill and would have raised the price of the device.

  • Alexander kate

    contact HYPERHACKTIVE1 at GMAIL dot COM for any kind of hack…Hes reliabke

  • mcdonsco

    Now if Google would just allow us to change the launch phrase so when I say “ok Google, call so and so on speakerphone” I don’t get home responding with “I can’t do that yet” (text messages too).

    I do this ALL THE TIME throughout the day in the main area of my home which is also where putting home makes the most sense.

    Incredibly annoying and if Google doesn’t address it soon I’m giving up on home.

    • LamentRedHector

      Say “hey google” instead. You’re phone wont respond and your GH will.

      • Jack Smith

        Plus I find “hey google” easier than “ok google”. Not sure why but I do.

        Full disclosure I am a ‘techie” and love technology. But I am blown away from something the Google Home has done pretty much every day.

        Love our Echo but it is not the same. But I am also insanely curious and constantly want to know things and this is just not a strength of the Echo. So for us the Echo in the kitchen and we will continue to use for ordering on Amazon and then GH throughout the house.

        Now if my wife will tell me why there is all these little clicking light things in the pantry from Amazon. I am guessing if I click it more coffee will show up at my door? Now that is super cool.

        • NexusMan

          Because Hey Google is more natural than OK google.

          • Prototype

            This. Okay, Google is super awkward on the tongue, literally as it puts the tongue in a position that doesn’t let it flow well from the first word to the next. Actually, it’s easier for me to say Awkward, Google than to say Okay, Google.

      • PerhapsNever

        I think @mcdonsco:disqus wants it the other way around (as do I). Plus, GH responds to both, so it still doesn’t really fix it.

  • 4n1m4L

    And i had been away for the blog for a while, and all of the sudden Kellex’s face was in the video instead of his hands

    • WAldenIV

      Rocking the homeless look too!

  • Ryan N

    “I’ve got 3 throughout my house”

    Okay, Kellen. WE GET IT. 🙂

    https://media.giphy.com/media/ofMzOyInSTvA4/giphy.gif

    • Tommysmallss

      He probably gets them for free.

      • Arkitech

        Free? Not as much as you would think.

    • BobButtons
      • Debraarodriguez

        Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj258d:
        On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
        !mj258d:
        ➽➽
        ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash258MediaUSAGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!mj258d:…..

  • Bradley Melnyk

    Every time you talk to google, mine kicks in, thanks for turning my heat up to 67 kellen jeez, once you start paying the bills, you can set it to whatever you want, but not now hahahaha

  • friguy3

    Ok love the new “artistic” reviews…but back away from the camera just a bit (youre practically IN my family room). And the kinda low talking whisper, why trying to be so…quite? The opening, nice, i get it, but a little, long? I miss the old reviews. Just the good reviews.

  • synplex

    You look like a roober from Home Alone.

    • Lunkman

      Certainly a face made for radio or podcasts…

  • Amy Zimmerman

    Thanks for the review. I really liked the song you opened up with tho – who is it?

    • Lunkman

      No, just no. Terrible. That simulated sound of vinyl had me thinking there was something wrong with the sound on my phone / speaker broken. Plus it sounding off key in a Hipster sort of way was annoying.

  • Swauger

    What happens if you have more than 1 Google account in the house. Can you share the device? What if you have more than 1 Google Home in the house?

    • friguy3

      Each one can only be sync’d up with one account. Multiple accounts would be great.

  • Kyle Brabender

    I cant figure out if it would just be faster to flip a light switch or think what my damn hue light is called when talking to G Home.

    • WAldenIV

      You need better nicknames then. Or just use the room name.

      • Kyle Brabender

        Thats exactly what i did, but when i wake up i forget because my brain isnt working.

        • I also use the Hue app “routines” to do things like “turn all lights on at 6:30AM” or “turn all lights off at midnight”.

    • synplex

      Name it the room it’s in. Pretty intuitive if you ask me. You can set the Nickname in the Google Home app.

  • hebrewHAMMER

    Does anybody else think Google Home and Google WiFi should be in one unit?

    • Will ⚽

      I’d be happy if they came in a bundle deal.

    • synplex

      No, since I hide my routers behind furniture or in a closet. I rather have my Google Home out on a table or shelf.

      • hebrewHAMMER

        I could see that being a good reason. I don’t have any experience with any of these smart home devices yet.

    • dcdttu

      I don’t need a router wherever I would like a Google Home and I certainly don’t need a Google Home where I have my router, so no. Also, that’s awfully expensive.

    • NexusMan

      Would be too expensive and less consumer friendly.

  • Carolina Frost

    Very cool review!

  • Grand Rapids

    Why do I feel like someone should be reading The Night Before Christmas while watching this without sound? I keep looking for pine cones.

  • Pedro

    Throughout the entire video, I got the impression that the kid was just put down for bed. How quietly can I speak and still make a real video?

    Kellen! Don’t you wake the baby!
    okay honey. quiet mode on.
    Maybe it’s just the legal dope in OR.

    Good information. Droid Life never lack for this.
    I look forward to the happy medium of the first few DL years of ‘no facetime’ video and the current ‘trend’. Just my opinion.

  • Sean Lally

    FWIW, IFTTT opens things up wide. I have a Wink hub that can control just about any smart device regardless of brand (which is why it’s so good, imo). I can use Google Home to control everything on the Wink, all my lights, fans, blinds, locks. I can verbally turn the lights on downstairs while I’m carrying my ancient dog down the stairs. I can also do things like, “ok, google. I’m going for a run” and it will email my wife (requirement of hers) letting her know where I’m going. Lots of cool stuff. It *really* needs to be able to do reminders though. Can’t believe they launched without it.

    • ncsurob

      What kind of blinds are wifi enabled? I need these in my life, seriously.

      • Sean Lally

        Bali, Lutron, Pella. Think they’re zwave though, not wifi…

        • Raven

          Lutron uses their own wireless protocol which the Wink Hub natively supports. I just got a Wink Hub 2 and am only beginning to unlock its potential. I am using an Echo with mine for voice control since the Home doesn’t natively support it yet. Do you find that you can control your Wink Hub well via IFTTT with a Home?

          • Sean Lally

            Yeah, works really well. Any wink shortcuts configured can be run via home

  • Bigmatt503

    I use xfinity home as my alarm service and lutron caseta to control a few light switches and lamps in my 1200 square ft home. The lutron products can be controlled through the xfinity home app. I’m just undecided if this is more of a niche product that I just won’t use a whole lot..

  • Sean Lally

    So when are those updates coming? I like the product, but there’s definitely room to move as a fry cook…

  • BobButtons

    Google Play Music support is enough on its own to get me to choose this over the Echo.

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      It’s kind of weird that there’s such fragmentation in this space. Amazon doesn’t support Play Music on the Echo/But it’s a blutooth speaker, so you can still use it as such, but it makes a fragmented experience. Then there’s the different Hubs that prioritize their own hardware. Then there’s the speaker systems like Sonos that don’t just natively support all music applications…

      The entire space is just weird. We need some standardization

      • BobButtons

        Agreed, but as that xkcd comic shows, it’ll just end up creating yet another competitor. I’m just very platform independent so I have to be selective over which devices/services I use. It’s dumb but I don’t want to limit my choices by jumping 100% into a specific one.

      • ScoobySnack

        And right after that I want to play my iOS apps on Android!

        Everyone wants you playing in their own ecosystems.

    • Michael

      You do need to realize that Google Home cannot play the music in your Google music library (purchased or uploaded) unless you put the music in a play list. Google will tell you that to play a specific song, album or artist, you will need to get a Premium Music Subscription at $10 per month. Even then, the song, album or artist you request through Google Home will come from the premium online library, NOT your own library. No matter what, you can only play your library music if you put it in a play list. This is the only device with this limitation. Will Google change this? Maybe, but then why did they ship it this way?

      • Jack Smith

        “Google Home cannot play the music in your Google music library ”

        This is not true. I have almost 40k songs stored on Google Play that I acquired through the years. I listen every night while I am sleeping to this music. I have a couple of playlists and when going to sleep I simply say “hey google play (playlist name) from Google Play and it plays.

        I do include Google Play in the statement as I use YouTube as the default music source. BTW, YouTube is by far the best music library anywhere.

        Take a song like mummers dance. Can not even listen to it on my Echo. With the Google Home there is literally over 20 different versions. Orchestra, acoustic, studio, live, and bunch more. I live a song called JD Blackfoot crazy horse. The only place it is available is YouTube. Not even on Spotify or Google Play.

        We have had the Echo since launch and purchased our first Google Home three weeks ago and have now added and will ultimate keep the Echo in the Kitchen and use Google Home throughout the house.

        BTW, the Google Home is really in a different category compared to the Echo. The Google Home handles incredible inference and the Echo does not. So say “hey google play gwen sting bottle” and Sting and Gwen singing message in the bottle starts.

        Or watching the news with wife. Several people on the screen have some acronym on their shirts that we did not know. Say “hey google what does X mean”. Google Home tells us. The Echo can not do this.

        With IFTTT I have no idea why someone would by an Echo over a Google Home.

        • Anon984

          Correct, YouTube and a premium membership are the sources but you cannot play music from your own library unless the tracks are in a playlist.

      • BobButtons

        I have the premium membership so it shouldn’t be an issue. It’s still dumb and they should support your own library as-is as well.