Google Home Review 2020

Google Home can do a lot of neat things, and it’s a worthy competitor to Amazon.
Google Home Mini
Color variety
Multiple languages
Confusing branding
Google Home Mini

Google Home is a feature-packed smart speaker that can also serve as a smart home hub. Although it’s not the same as the Amazon Echo, it’s a reliable choice for a smart speaker/hub.

Let’s talk a little more about what you can expect from your Google speaker.

Google Home/Nest Hub smart speaker options
ProductImagePriceLearn More
Google Home MiniGoogle Home Mini$49.00View at Lowe's
Nest MiniGoogle Nest Mini$49.00View at Lowe's
Nest Hub$89.99View at Lowe's
Google Home Max$299.00View at Kohl's
Nest Hub MaxGoogle Nest Hub Max$229.00View at Lowe's

Prices subject to change.

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Google Home or Google Nest speaker?
We feel like Google’s speaker branding is a little confusing right now. Jump down to our FAQ for a more in-depth discussion of the Google brand portfolio.

Google Home price

Google Home and Nest Hub cost about what we expect for a smart speaker.

Google Home prices range from $50 to $300.

As you can see in the table, Google Home prices range from $50 to a wallet-pinching $300. That aligns pretty well with the Echo’s prices.

Google Home equipment

The Google Home equipment looks good and comes in several colors.

Sometimes we think Google’s products are minimalistic to the point of sacrificing function. But we have no complaints about the Google Home hardware.

The Google Home has a lovely visual design. Most of the models are a little more innocuous-looking than an Amazon Echo, with a sleeker, more rounded look that won’t look as foreign in your family room. Some people even compare the regular Google Home to an air freshener. (We say essential oil diffuser.)

You can get your Google speaker in the following colors:

  • Aqua
  • Chalk
  • Charcoal
  • Coral/Campari
  • Sky/Como Blue

Color availability varies by model. Sadly, none of the speakers come in every color, so if you like one shade better than another, you may be limited in your choices.

So what can you do with your Google Home?

Google Home features

Google Assistant can do a lot for you.

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Google Assistant learning curve
Google Assistant doesn’t have “skills” like Alexa. It learns as it goes. You don’t have to use third-party software, but as a trade-off, you can’t instantaneously teach Google Assistant to do something new.

Customization

Google Assistant is customizable. You can choose between male and female voices, and you can also select two languages from the following 13:

  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Hindi
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Norwegian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish

That’s a lot of languages (last year, Google offered just six), but it’s far from every language on the planet. Your language may still be excluded for the time being.

We expect to see Google add more languages in the future.

Music

The Google Home is primarily a speaker, so music is a must.

You can ask Google Assistant to tune into a local radio station.

You have several different options for music-listening. You can ask Google Assistant to tune into a local radio station, or you can use your favorite music app. Google Assistant works with the following:

  • Google Play Music
  • YouTube Music (need a paid subscription)
  • Pandora
  • Spotify (need a paid subscription)

Communication

Use Google Assistant to make a call, even when you have an iPhone. (You just have to do some legwork with your settings.) If you have a Nest Hub with a screen, you can even make a video call.

You can also use your Google Home system for an intercom call within your home.

Plans

Lean into the assistant part of Google Assistant by adding events to your calendar and checking the weather.

Research

Trade in “Let’s google it” for “Hey, Google.” With Google Assistant, you can get the answer to your question by speaking out loud.

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Google Assistant standout features
What really sets Google Assistant apart from Alexa is the Google-specific features. We love searching Google and watching random YouTube videos with the Google Home. You can’t do those things with an Echo.

Food

You can use your Google Assistant to order food, look up recipes, and get restaurant recommendations.

Random fun

If you say, “Okay, Google, random fun,” Google Assistant will pull out a random activity. The activity could be a game, quiz, story, joke, or riddle, among other things.

To learn about more Google Home features, check out our article about having fun with Google Home.

Google Home automation

Google Home is compatible with a lot of home devices.

Many people use their smart speakers as smart home hubs. They hook all their smart home equipment up to their speaker and then control it all using voice commands. But to do that, the smart speaker and smart device(s) need to be compatible with each other.

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Google vs. Amazon compatibility
There’s some crossover between Google Home and Alexa compatibility, but some brands are compatible with just one of them. So keep that in mind if there’s a specific smart home brand you want to use.

Your Google Home or Nest Hub should work with the following brands, among others:

You don’t have to be right near your Google Home to use Google Assistant. You can also direct instructions through the Google Assistant app on your phone.

Google Home installation

Google Home installation is relatively simple.

Google Home setup is quick and easy. Your Google Assistant app guides you through the process so you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

Recap: Is Google Home good?

We recommend the Google Home.

The Google Home is excellent, even in comparison to the Echo. It’s a classy smart speaker that works well and has lots of fun features.

Google Home FAQ

What’s the difference between Google Home Mini and Nest Mini?

When Google acquired Nest back in 2014, it opted not to rebrand the Nest smart speakers.¹ Google currently sells the following speakers:

  • Google Home
  • Google Home Mini
  • Google Home Max
  • Nest Hub
  • Nest Mini
  • Nest Hub Max

The Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max are essentially Google Home speakers with screens attached, but the Google Home Mini and the Nest Mini are almost identical. Initially, it sounded like the Nest Mini was a rebrand of the Google Home Mini, but Google is still selling the two separate products. So we’re not sure what’s going on there.

In any case, if you’re trying to choose between a Google Home Mini and Nest Mini, the Nest has some slight design improvements. It’s made of a different material and has better speakers. You can turn your music on and off by tapping the top, and you can even mount your Nest Mini to the wall.

Also, the Nest comes in blue (Sky, according to Google). Otherwise, the Nest Mini and Home Mini are more or less the same device.

What’s the difference between the Google Home app and Google Assistant app?

These two apps are very similar. The main difference is that the Google Assistant app can fulfill some voice commands that your Google Home can’t. That’s because Google Assistant is a smart assistant (like Apple’s Siri). It runs your Google Home, but it exists outside of it.

Should I choose Google Home or Amazon?

It depends on what you’re looking for.

Echo’s offerings don’t directly correlate with Google Assistant. Some of them are for extremely specific use cases. But in our mind, the Echo Dot is the equivalent of the Google Home Mini or Nest Mini. The Echo and the Google Home are on par, and so are the primary smart display offerings, Echo Show and Nest Hub Max.

So what happens if you put the Google Home up against the Echo? You learn that Google Assistant isn’t Alexa 2.0; it has different strengths and weaknesses than Amazon’s leading lady. For instance, it’s better at research (Google’s built right in). It gets you access to YouTube, and it’s better with flexible wording. You don’t have to speak as precisely for Google Assistant to understand you as you do with Alexa.

But it also has its drawbacks. We noticed that Google Assistant has some spatial issues; the nearest Google Home won’t always pick up on what you’re saying. Amazon’s Alexa doesn’t have that problem. And, of course, Google Home can’t order or track your Amazon packages for you.

In general, we suggest choosing your speaker based on what other smart home brands you want to connect with. Some brands are Google- or Amazon-compatible only.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia, “Google Nest