JULY 2017 - Nic & Wes Builders Pte Ltd Newsletter (Issue 86)
Subject: JULY 2017 - Nic & Wes Builders Pte Ltd Newsletter (Issue 86)
Send date: 2017-07-01
Issue #: 86
JULY 2017 ISSUE 86
IN FOCUS: AMAZON ECHO VS GOOGLE HOMEBy Nicole Kow
Smart speakers are all the rage these days with Amazon Echo and Google Home at the forefront. But what exactly are they, you ask? Essentially smart speakers are at present day the seed of intelligent assistants that can do more than just play music through voice control, they are able to control compatible smart devices and aid their users with required information. If that has sparked your interest, this issue we break down some of the key features and how they measure against each other.
Price Amazon Echo which has been in the market for about two years. The brainchild of e-commerce giant Amazon, the Echo is thus naturally available on Amazon for USD179.99 (before shipping) or alternatively you may purchase one locally via Carousell* ranging from SGD260-350. The Echo Dot (its mini-me) as featured in the opening photo is a smaller version of the original but functions quite similarly is retailing on-site at USD49.99 (before shipping) and on Carousell* at about SGD80-100.
Google Home on the other hand created by search engine front runner Google launched in November 2016, is retailing on their website at USD129 (before shipping) or through Carousell* from SGD200-250.
*For purchases on Carousell, please do your due diligence before purchasing from any seller. Carousell is an open marketplace app much like Ebay where you may obtain overseas products locally through individual merchants. If you choose to make a purchase do so at your own risk, Nic & Wes Builders is not in any way associated with Carousell and neither are we liable for any wrongful transactions.
Design Amazon Echo is tall and cylindrical in shape while the Echo Dot looks much like the size of a hockey puck. It is available in two color options - black and white and features a LED dial. Volume can be physically controlled via indent buttons or via the LED dial.
Google Home is designed broader and shorter mimicking the profile of a table top diffuser. The speaker base cover is interchangeable while the top is touch controlled to adjust the volume as well as wakes up the device.
Taste is subjective but both are designed rather unobtrusively.
Touching on minor details, the default voice on Amazon Echo controlled by assistant program Alexis sounds much like a person. The assistant in Google Home on the other hand, is less refined and more robotic.
Being a smart speaker, it would only make sense to touch on the quality of sound. The Amazon Echo has decent sound quality but tends to produce rather flat audio, the Echo Dot with its tiny build consists of a smaller speaker thus does not produce as powerful volume as its predecessor while Google Home has more body through the evident bass.
The voice assistant on the Amazon Echo is pretty consistent with understanding commands and answering simple questions.
Google Home also does a consistent job with commands and understanding questions thrown at it responding accordingly. While both products are assistance focused, Google Home essentially being powered by the number one search engine does a hands down job with Google Home at not only doing searches but remembering information such as identifying family members by name for instance.
Smart Home Integration/Compatibility
Scour the internet and you will find many reviews raving about the Amazon Echo especially for Smart Home integration as the abundance of compatible skills available run in the thousands. However, bringing it to a Singapore context or outside-US, this product lacks in certain areas of compatibility.The Amazon Echo seems to have been intended to be tailored for US-use thus many of the apps are not location-based compatible with Singapore and can especially be tricky for Iphone users. As for Android, there is a workaround with the use of Broadlink RM Pro Hub enabling room voice control with Smart Home device integration to the Echo. It also has the ability to sync with a number of smart home devices including the Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, Tp-Link, Wink and Samsung SmartThings devices just to name a few.
Google Home being the newbie of the two has still some work ahead of itself but Google is working to narrow the gap between Amazon Echo in this arena of Smart Home integration. Since the announcement in March 2017, it has expanded its list of compatible smart home devices from its initial Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings to include 12 new companies including Logitech.
Your favourite playlist can easily be played on both Amazon Echo and Google Home through voice control… well almost. One way is through their native players Google Play (which is perfect for Android phones) and Amazon Music Unlimited for the Home and Echo respectively or through third party apps like Spotify. For Itunes playlists, only Echo provides a workaround by using their Bluetooth speaker functionality (thus not voice controlled) which is however unavailable on Google Home.
Two similar products with different strengths and weaknesses and at the end, it boils down to the user’s purpose priorities and device compatibility that will determine which is best suited. The Amazon Echo while may lack full accessibility to compatible apps in Singapore, still has some great points especially for Smart Home integration setups. Similarly Google Home, still young has seen much growth with the software upgrades and compatibility with both Android and Ios phones, and is a handy extension of your phone and more. Having both the Echo and Home set up in my home, they have demonstrated interesting functionalities independently in different ways and of course even better as a team. This is just the start of the potential that these devices can and will possess while integrating into our households.
If deciding between these two devices is tough enough, come December Ios users looking for better compatibility can look forward to Apple’s version in the HomePod.
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