Our Google Home Review
Google Home with 3 Toddlers
For Black Friday 2017, along with lots of other people in the world, we picked up some Google Home and Google mini devices from Best Buy. They were offering the standard holiday discount for Google Assistant devices, along with a $10 gift card with Google mini purchases. I also picked up some Google Chromecasts.
I went for Google over Amazon’s Alexa devices primarily for the reason that I prefer Google developer products (as a developer) and didn’t want the devices primarily for e-commerce (Amazon) purposes, but as far as I can tell, right now, they are pretty similar.
One of my big motivators was for setting up a house-wide audio system. I had house-wide audio (wired) about 10 years ago when I housesat an elderly man’s home for 3 years, and it was great! At that time, it had a 25-disc CD system, and I made the equivalent of 25 mixtape CDs of ambient music. I can still hear those songs and am transported back to that time frame.
Sonos offers wireless connected speakers suitable for a house-wide audio setup, but the entry cost is much higher, and prohibitive for me. If Google had put an audio out jack on the Google Mini – it would have made life so much easier for me – that feature on the Echo may be the deciding factor for some.
In total, we got 1 Google Home, 2 Google mini’s, and 2 Chromecasts. I used the 2 Best Buy gift cards to purchase one of the Chromecasts, so our total investment is around $200. I connect the chromecasts to older speakers we had that are not “smart” – but by connecting the Chromecasts, we can add them to a “Google Home Group”. Then, I can tell Google to “Play my Christmas Playlist Everywhere.” And voila – house-wide audio for a fraction of the Sonos pricepoint. We are frequent Spotify users, which is an option as the default audio (so you don’t have to specify Spotify, it just defaults to that every time you request music). Also supported is Google Play and Pandora among others. You can also cast iTunes from your phone to the Home Group.
So, a few weeks of living with the Google home assistant with my spouse and 3 young children, here are some of my thoughts in no particular order:
- Home Groups are life. If you are interested in the same multi-room sound experience, create multiple home groups. “Everywhere”, “main floor”, “bedroom” – etc.
- There’s a cool feature called “Broadcast” – you say “Hey Google, Broadcast [say whatever you want]” and the audio of your message will be broadcast on every connected speaker. Mostly used for stuff like “Kids – stop talking to Google!”
- Parental Controls. I thought that because Google supports multiple voice training and multiple accounts per home that it would ignore my kids if they did not have a voice-training, or account configured. It ignored my husbands’ spotify requests until we added the account to HIS account in Google Home Assistant. But THAT IS NOT THE CASE. It only took a couple days before the kids figured out how to ask correctly for Google to play “Rock Around The Christmas Tree” and it’s only gotten worse. Today, I woke up to the Star Wars theme. This could be good or bad, depending on your needs.
- IFTTT. I’m a web developer, and rather “techy” by nature, and if you like to dabble, IFTTT is awesome for integrating chain, programming-like options for many of your devices. The options are extensive, and growing daily. There’s a lot more current options if you have an Android phone (“Hey Google, find my phone”). Either way, if you have Alexa or Google Home, it’s worth checking out.
- That connected life: If you have a Nest thermostat, Hue lights, a Harmony remote, Chromecasts, or any other connected-type items, these smart home assistants become so much more helpful.
- You can get custom bases for your Google home, skins for your Google Home. If you want colorful mini’s – you need to buy them from Google’s store because I couldn’t find them in any stores.
Do you have any Google Home helpful hints? Leave them in the comments below.