2 Jul 2018

The Google Home and Home Mini is launched back in April in Singapore. The smart speaker from Google spots a simple sleek design on both the regular Google Home and the mini version.

For the past few months, I had the chance to take the Google Home for a spin.
Once you open the packaging, the Google Home mini sits on top of the compartment that stores its power adapter.

The Google Home spots a clean white and grey design. The grey mesh bottom is its speakers and the top is touch sensitive for simple control of the Google Home. There is a mute button in case you do not want Google Home to listen to your conversations for the keyword or maybe you are watching a show that keeps “Hey Google”.

The Google Home is powered by the 2A adapter that comes with it. It uses a proprietary connector, which is kind of a disappointment as I thought they would use the USB-C (or a B) type connector.

Getting started is pretty easy for me as I have previously setuped the Chromecast. Take the Google Home app and follow the steps to get the Google Home configured for your account and WiFi network.
Home Control

The Google Home is placed on the TV console just below the TV. With an overhead living room fan running at full speed all the time, the Google Home have some trouble hearing me when I have the TV turned on and watching a show. That is me sitting around one meter away.

After some trial-and-error, the better way is to position it nearer to me on the coffee table or side table.

Unfortunately, the only thing I could control in my traditional home is the Chromecast. I do not have any connected home automation tools or devices.

It does a great job of ordering my Chromecast connected TV to playback videos from YouTube. I notice that the audio volume will temporarily throttle down when I try to speak to the Google Home. It could also turn on the TV if the Chromecast is in idle mode (while the TV USB port is still supplying power).

Playback

Currently, the music playback is only available from Spotify. As I do not have a Spotify premium account, I can only playback by playlist. It will be good if it can play the music from YouTube.

The playback is really good. The music is loud and clear with a good amount of bass.

If you like listening to radio stations, you can shout out to Google Home and it plays the local radio stations as you please using TuneIn.

Bluetooth enabled

The Google Home supports Bluetooth connection. I tried connecting via the Bluetooth and there are noticeable delays between the picture and the audio when I playback some YouTube videos. This delay is also present when I tried to cast from my computer to the device. Perhaps some delay via WiFi but it is weird to have that much of a delay with Bluetooth.

Answers Fast

The Google Home responds to most of my questions within a few moments, usually less than a second after my query. Questions like where is the nearest NTUC Fairprice? ,where is the nearest McDonald’s? Where is the nearest POSB atm? yielded correct answers. But it cannot understand “Where is the NEXT nearest” kind of questions yet. Scenarios that it could be useful would be if the nearest McDonald’s just closed for the day, or the ATM decided not to work.

I also tried the SG Bus Uncle on the device. The experience is not intuitive enough for a five stars experience. I have problem with the app misunderstanding my bus number, or thought that I am still enquiring bus A at bus stop A instead of bus B at bus stop B. Perhaps my enunciation needs work!

Personal Assistant

With the voice recognition feature, it knows that I am talking to it and not my family members. I could easily add tasks, enquire calendar entries and more using the device. This experience is the same as what I get with the Google Assistant on the phone.

All in all, the Google Home is a great addition to the household. I could check the weather, put down task and schedule with my voice. There are some work still needed to make some of the things work more natural and more integration required.
If you would like to get Google Home for yourself you can check out the new Google Store in Singapore at https://store.google.com/sg/

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