Home sweet home Google Home, Google Wifi and Chromecast Ultra hands-on preview
ByDaniel Bader Tuesday, Oct 4, 2016 at 6:30 pm EDT
Google expanded its presence in the Home with Chromecast Ultra, Google WiFi and, oh, Google Home.
Among Google's announcements at its Pixel event in San Francisco were three pieces of in-home technology that on their own are interesting, but together are hugely noteworthy.
In addition to theGoogle Home assistant-in-a-speaker, which was announced at Google I/O earlier this summer, the company unveiled a streaming stick, theChromecast Ultra, and a brand new mesh-enabled Wi-Fi router called, appropriately, Google Wifi (yes, lowercase i ). Let's break them down a little.
This is the first time we're seeing Google Home, and it's quite the compact little speaker. With magnetic replaceable bases made of metal or fabric, the unit can be made to stand out (a bright red flourish, for instance) or blend in (a nondescript slate metal) depending on the environment, and because they're magnetic they can easily be exchanged for various situations.
The slanted top is certainly a bold decision, but it definitely feels like something Google can get away with. The top is also touch-sensitive, and features a set of four dancing lights in the Google color scheme when a command is issued.
While the testing environment wasn't conducive to extensive testing, Google Home promises to be attentive and sensitive, able to hear a voice from across the room using far-field microphones. With Google Assistant built in, Home becomes a place to ask questions and solve problems, or just access information directly from Google Search. The upside is that Google's "knowledge graph" is in many respects the world's vastest and, with your permission, Home can access personal information culled from Maps, Gmail and more.
To convey those details, Home also sports a speaker — a 2" driver and dual 2" passive radiators for deeper bass — which sounds better than we expected, but it's not going to replace your Sonos Play:1 for music playback. What it can do, however, is reach into YouTube, Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn and more to access tracks and podcasts, which is pretty great, and there are more services to come.