Google Home Mini
There are tons of reviews talking about what you can do or not do with Google Home, and it's still evolving, so I have just a few comments on the GHM:
- Mine is charcoal colour, but the cord is still white. It uses a standard micro-USB power plug, but in such a deep and narrow indent that few micro-USB cords would fit.
- To me the voice sounds muffled, too much bass and not enough treble. Makes it hard to understand from a distance or when there's something else playing in the room. It seems better balanced for music, not that the sound from such a small speaker is going to impress anyone.
- The microphone pickup is pretty good, although I sometimes have to speak up if music is playing. Maybe too good, as it will respond if I say "Ok Google" to my phone in another room.
- It does work as a Chromecast audio receiver, albeit with no stereo output jack as everyone complains. Surprisingly it also works as a Bluetooth audio receiver, a feature nobody seems to have mentioned.
- It will pair up with a Chromecast video to cast video and images, but it seems extremely limited in what it can do so far. Casting Youtube videos is possible, although it's awkward to get a specific search result. It's eager to cast your personal Google Photos. But as a more practical thing I haven't figured out how to get it to show an image as the result of a search, if that's possible at all. That capability was announced as "coming soon" back in May, but apparently still isn't there. If I say "Hey Google, show me the weather on TV", it responds "Sure, playing 'How's the Weather' from Youtube on Chromecastxxxx".
- Overall it's disappointingly dumber that Google Assistant on your phone. If Google Assistant on your phone can't find a sufficiently-specific result to speak to you, it will at least show you search results that are usually relevant. Google Home basically just says "I got nothing."
- As far as music goes, the goal is of course to be able to say "Play <anything>". But Google only allows that with 2 specific partners: Spotify and Google Play music, both only with a premium subscription. They recently added the ability to play your own music that you have uploaded to Google Play - but in order to do that you have to provide a credit card. Google really, really wants your credit card number, even though they constantly reassure you that they're not charging you anything - just yet.
- Google Assistant in the U.S. has the ability to identify music playing from another audible source (like Shazaam does), but it's disabled in Canada. Unfortunately Google Home doesn't seem to have this capability at all yet.
- You do need an associated phone running the Google Home app to set things up. If it's an Android phone that has not yet had Google Assistant activated, this will do it automatically. That's not entirely a good thing, as switching from the old Google Now to Assistant brings some changes, some new limitations, and some additional forced sharing of private information with Google. But you pretty much give up on privacy anyway if you're going to use Google Home.
- Teardown here: https://medium.com/@justlv/google-home- ... 9a23724a26 including some comments on the design bug that led Google to disable the top centre tap button in a firmware update.
So, very much a work in progress.
Comments? Tips? Interesting features you've discovered?