Google’s bid to take over your connected home has finally arrived. Google Home, a $129 smart speaker that serves as a competitor to the Amazon Echo, can play you music, control your Chromecast and even toggle your home lights via Google Assistant. But according to early reviews, the Home, while impressive, is missing a few key features that could make it the true smart home accessory of the future. We’ll have our full review up soon, but in the meantime, here’s what other critics are saying.
Google Home: Review Scorecard
The Verge (8/10)
The Verge‘s Dan Siefert had largely positive things to say about the Home, which he says functions much like Amazon’s Echo but benefits from Google’s deeper knowledge base. Siefert was a fan of the Home’s design and overall sound quality, but noted that the speaker isn’t quite as smart as he’d like it to be.
“Google smartly designed the Home to blend in with the rest of the mundane products in your home. It’s roughly half as tall as the Echo and arguably much nicer to look at.”
“It has surprisingly loud output and, in my experience, had no trouble filling the various rooms in my house with sound.”
“It needs to be a lot smarter; it needs to know a lot more about me, my family, and our habits; and it needs to be more proactive with its assistance.”
“The Home’s touch-based volume controls are not as easy to use as the Echo’s physical ring.”
Nathan Ingraham of Engadget also labeled the Home as an ambitious product that hasn’t realized its potential just yet. The reviewer praised Google Assistant’s conversational abilities and Chromecast integration, but wasn’t big on its speaker quality or lack of third-party app support.
“The list of things you can ask the Google Assistant is limited only by your imagination, and that’s one of Home’s biggest strengths.”
“I’m already dreaming of setting up a few pairs of nice speakers with Chromecast Audio and having a multi-room, voice-connected music system.”
“The speaker isn’t stereo and lacks much of a low end, despite the two passive ‘radiators’ meant to increase bass performance.”
“Asking it to play TV shows from Netflix, Hulu or even Google Play videos doesn’t work yet. Google says support for third-party Cast apps is coming at some point, but for now it’s far more limited than I had hoped.”
Gizmodo (No Score)
Gizmodo‘s Alex Cranz went as far as to say the Home “obliterates” the Amazon Echo, but like her peers, noted that Google’s smart speaker still has some work to do. Cranz noted that Home both sounds and listens better than the Echo, but said that it’s still missing a few game-changing AI features.
“Music sounds richer coming out of the four speakers at its base than out of the two crammed into the tall tube of the Echo. There’s a distinct thump of bass and vocals are crisp compared to the Echo.”
“When I ask something of the Google Home that is in its realm of capabilities, it never stumbles. It’s easy to adjust the lights in my basement without modulating my voice and uttering every syllable like a robot.”
“Google Home, like every robot sidekick you’ve seen in a sci-fi movie, is incredibly literal. It can do amazing things if you know how to ask the right question, but it exaggerates your every failure reminding you that the Skynet apocalypse is still a vague point far in humanity’s future.”
“It’s worth noting that everything that makes Google Home great will also creep the hell out of people.”
While Gizmodo called Google Home an Echo killer, CNET‘s Andrew Gebhart felt the opposite. While Gebhart praised Google Home’s Assistant as a whole, he lamented its lack of support for multiple family members, and called it less versatile than Amazon’s Echo.
“After downloading the Google Home app, I was up and running with the speaker in minutes, and initially enthralled with how much it could do.”
“Just like the Amazon Echo before it, Home’s a worthy smart home simplifier — and more forgiving if you flub the exact name of a device than Alexa.”
“Google Home’s not there yet. It’ll hold a conversation, but only a primitive one. It integrates with Google services, but just a couple for now. It works well with the smart home, but only with four platforms.”
“Right now, Home can only pull up YouTube videos on your Chromecast video streamer — no Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Go — though Google’s promised voice casting for Netflix soon.”
Lisa Eadicicco at Time had similar things to say about the Home, calling it a “promising first try” that doesn’t quite top the Amazon Echo. Eadicicco gave the Home props for its customizable design and clear AI answers, but criticized its lack of support for major smart home devices and third-party apps.
“With its wider base and slightly sloped top, the Home looks like an air freshener or vase, helping it blend in more seamlessly than Amazon’s tall and narrow Echo.”
“Google’s expertise in areas like search, transportation, and translation clearly help make Home better at answering questions related to those topics.”
“Amazon’s Echo can do a wider variety of tasks. That’s because it’s compatible with a broader array of smart home devices and has its own catalog of apps, which Amazon calls ‘skills.”
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