Google Home first look and unboxing: the smart speaker revolution catches steam in India

Google Home

Close on the heels of Amazon bringing its Echo range of smart speakers to India, Google has also launched its Google Home and Home Mini in the country today. These Google Assistant-powered speakers are smart and voice-enabled. Essentially, you can use your voice to request for music, read the news, ask questions, and more.

Google India sent over a unit of the Home in a big mysterious box with a massive ‘G’ logo on the front. We decided to unbox it and find out the contents inside it. 

Google Home: what’s inside?

On opening the top lid, we were surprised to see not one but three products. This included the Google Home itself, the Philips Hue 9.5W White Ambience smart bulb, and the Philips Hue Bridge 2.0. 

There was also a very cool marketing material in the form of a Tippy Tippy Tap game, apart from a personalised card. 

We decided to unbox the Philips Hue bulb later and got down right to the star of the show – the Google Home speaker itself. As is the case with Google’s Pixel phone boxes, the Google Home’s box also comes with an external sheathing. This extra cover includes some India-specific marketing content. For example, you will see Google Assistant commands talking about Bollywood music. You will also notice that Google has partnered with Gaana and Saavn for music playback. 

Once you’ve popped open the top lid, you will notice the Google Home speaker itself. Underneath the speaker, the base has the power brick, and a few pamphlets like the Quick start guide and the safety manual. 

Google Home: setup and first look

The speaker is smaller than we expected it to be. It is only 142.8mm tall and around 500g in weight. The design aesthetic is minimalistic and doesn’t look anything like a tech toy. It will aesthetically fit into any home. We are sure that the lady-folk in the house won’t mind the Google Home for sure. 

Setting up the Google Home is a long-drawn process. It includes downloading an app, connecting to the portable hotspot created by Google Home, performing the Voice Match (which takes a lot of effort), giving access to Google so that it can access your personal data to provide personalised information, and more. In fact, I had to reset my home router once for it to work properly. 

However, post the one-time process, you will enjoy using the Home. It responds to queries well, and you can do everything from asking it for weather updates to reading the news. But the best use of Google Home is for music playback. You can currently sync your Google Play Music account, or a free Gaana/Saavn account. We’ll use it over an extended period of time to find out how it fares.

We even setup the Philips Hue and it works like a charm. Just asking Google Home to dim the lights and brighten it, is captivating. We will spend more time with it and compare it with the Amazon Echo, to find out what’s different.

 

Also read: Google launches the Google Home and Home Mini in India

Oh, and lest we forget, we really can’t get over LED lights on the Google Home! The colourful animation, each time we uttered, “OK, Google,” just brought a wide smile to our face each time. Moreover, the capacitive touch interface to adjust the volume and to pause the songs is interaction genius. 

Google Home: closing thoughts

The Google Home has been launched at Rs 9,999, which is the exact same price as the Amazon Echo 2 in India. Evidently, Google is taking the fight directly to Amazon. And there is no denying that the company has year’s of expertise with voice recognition tech when compared to Alexa. However, the bigger question is if this expertise actually comes to fore in the final product. Well, we shall review the Home soon…so stay tuned. 

Ershad Kaleebullah

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?