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Smart Speakers: Amazon Echo vs Google Home

 Amazon’s Echo family finally has some real competition. This is the Google Home line of speaker devices, aimed squarely at competing with Amazon’s Echo line of devices. We’re not talking about Bluetooth speakers here – we’re talking about speakers that live in your house, always plugged in and connected to the internet, which can be controlled using just your voice. In the case of Amazon’s Echo line, you’ll be talking to Alexa; in the case of Google’s Home line, you’ll be speaking to Google Assistant.

 

Following the announcement of two new Google Home devices in late 2017, Amazon and Google are more on even ground than ever before. But if you’re interested in buying one, which one should you choose? Well, this is how the two families of devices stack up.

 
Amazon Echo vs Google Home

Price:

Amazon Echo - $100
Google Home - $130

What can it do?

Amazon Echo: Amazon’s main Echo device is able to play music, give you directions, order you an Uber, and a whole range of other things. You can ask Alexa to re-order items from Amazon, or you can ask her how far Pluto is from Earth. It’s the gold standard in smart speakers, and the second-generation speaker costs less and looks better than the first model.

Google Home: Google’s main Home device is nearly identical, in terms of functionality, to Amazon’s main Echo. It can play music, answer questions, order items, all powered by “Google Assistant” – the name for Google’s smart AI assistant.

Which should I buy?

Costing $30 less, and nearly identical in terms of functionality, Amazon’s Echo is a no-brainer here. The Google Home seen above is nearly a year-old device now, whereas, Amazon’s second-generation Echo is still fresh. Not only will you pay less with the Echo, but you’ll get yourself a newer device.

Amazon Echo Dot vs Google Home Mini

Price:

Amazon Echo Dot: $50
Google Home Mini: $50

What can it do?

Amazon Echo Dot: This is an Echo in every way except loudness – we’re talking about a tiny little device. If you’re hoping to experience serious sound out of this little hockey puck, you’ll be sorely disappointed: the Dot is an extension device, enabling you to network your Echo devices and play music in multiple rooms. You can use the Dot as an alarm clock, or you can just use it to hear the morning headlines – “Alexa, tell me the news.”

Google Home Mini: Like the Dot, this is also an extension device. It does everything that the Dot does, but with one noticeable difference: A broadcast feature. This is how it works – say you’re a parent, and you’re in the garage waiting by your car for your kids to come downstairs. If you’ve got a Home Mini in the garage and various Home devices all over your house, you can ask Home Mini to broadcast the message, “get down to the garage before I get angry!”

Which should I buy?

This is more of a toss-up. Both of these devices do roughly the same thing, cost the same, and exist to extend the functionality of the Amazon Echo or Google Home you already own. In other words, don’t buy an Amazon Echo dot if you have a Google Home and vice versa – these are items that you buy after you have purchased an Echo or Home.

 
Amazon Echo Plus vs Google Home Max

Price:

Amazon Echo Plus: $150
Google Home Max: $400

What can it do?

Amazon Echo Plus: This can do everything that a standard Echo can do, but it has better speakers and a built-in smart home hub. Normally, if you want to say, control your Phillips Hue lights with your Echo, you will have to teach it that skill – meaning, you go into the Alexa app and activate that particular ability before you can use it freely. However, in the case of the Echo Plus, it can detect and connect to stuff like that automatically. The Plus is a vision of the future of the Echo, and what Amazon’s after: a connected smart home, controlled by voice.

Google Home Max: If you’re really into audio, the Google Home Max is just for you. If you’re not, it isn’t. This device is more of a speaker than a smart device, though it certainly does everything that all other Google Home Devices can do. It has Google assistant built in, but the real purpose of the Home Max is to take on stuff like the Sonos Play 5 speaker and Apple’s upcoming HomePod.

Which should I buy?

The Echo Plus and the Home Max aren’t really comparable devices. The Echo Plus is intended as the main hub for your smart home, whereas the Home Max is intended as the main hub of your music life. Despite the price being in the Echo Plus’s favor, what you really need to identify here is what you want to do. If you’re looking to kit out your house like Marty McFly in “Back to the Future 2,” the Echo Plus is for you. If you want an incredibly loud, clear speaker with voice control, the Home Max is the better option for you.

Don’t Forget the Amazon Echo Spot

Price: $129.99

What can it do?

Need to see the news? Ask Alexa to open up CNN or Bloomberg for a quick briefing. If you’d like to step away from the real world for a bit, you can ask Alexa to play any of Amazon Prime’s great movies. YouTube also works too.

Fancy cooking something? Following Alexa’s verbal cues for a recipe can be quite tricky, so Allrecipes and Food Network have taken advantage of the screen to show you visual guides as you cook. Therefore, you can tell Alexa to “ask Food Network for vegetarian lasagne recipes,” and the Echo Show brings up Alexa’s top picks. You can select a recipe and even watch a video of the chef making the dish. On screen, you can see the ingredient list, difficulty level, chef’s name, and photo.

Make a call. All Alexa devices have the ability to call other Alexa devices. You can see which of your contacts have an Echo device and give them a ring. There’s also a “drop-in” feature that doesn’t allow the other party to reject your call. This is meant to be used by people to check in on elderly relatives even if they live in another state.

Play music. Like other Echo devices, the Spot can be used for music playback. However, the Spot’s 1.5-inch speaker is not for audiophiles. The sound quality is good, but not great. If you want better sound, you can connect it to external speakers via Bluetooth or the line-out port.

Need to make a booking? With the OpenTable skill, you can ask Alexa to book a reservation at a restaurant. You will then be shown available times, so you can select which one suits you best.

 

Source: businessinsider

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