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Google Home Max review: This is the best-sounding smart speaker you can buy

Getting a review unit late, as is the case with the Google Home Max, gives me the benefit of reading a lot of people’s opinions of a product before I formulate my own. And reviewing a lot of similar speakers before I evaluate the one at hand gives me a broad base of experience upon which to formulate mine. Based on those two fronts, the Google Home Max has been praised just a wee bit overenthusiastically.

That said, the Google Home Max is the best smart speaker I’ve heard. Amazon certainly has nothing close to it in terms of audio performance, and neither do any of the manufacturers building Echo clones. Expectations for Apple’s upcoming HomePod are certainly high, but compared to many other comparably sized, self-powered multi-room speakers—the second-generation Sonos Play:5 being the perfect example—the Google Home Max isn’t as remarkable. I’ll go over my listening tests first, and then dive deeper into the speaker’s specs and features.

Listening tests

Listening to Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters” from the group’s Gaucho release, streamed via Tidal Hi-Fi in my home theater, I was impressed with the Max’s musicality. The laconic bass line that opens the track sounded satisfyingly fat, and the drummer’s rimshots cut through with authority. The vocals—especially the tight harmonies of the female backup singers—exhibited a thoroughly enjoyable presence, too.

google home max with sonos play 5Michael Brown / IDG

But when I performed an A/B comparison to the aforementioned Sonos Play:5, the Max was outclassed at both ends of the frequency spectrum. Bass played through the Play:5 resonated in my chest in a way the Max couldn’t match. And when I switched to Tower of Power’s decidedly more upbeat “What is Hip?” from the band’s eponymous self-titled album from 1973, the Max again couldn’t match the Play:5’s bass performance, failing to bring Stephen “Doc” Kupka’s  bari sax to the fore, and delivering Mic Gillette’s and Greg Adams’ exhilarating trumpet work with just a wee bit less energy.

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You can manually boost or cut the Max’s bass and treble levels plus or minus 6dB, but Google says the Home Max’s audio performance will automatically improve over time. The speaker uses its onboard microphones to evaluate the environment it’s playing in and will tune itself accordingly.

Sonos speakers have a similar feature, called TruePlay, but it’s dependent upon your having an iOS device and a willingness to spend a few minutes walking around the room with it while the speaker plays test tones. Sonos says its iOS device requirement is due to the wild diversity of microphones in the Android world—there’s not one standard component that the company can depend upon (and most of its speakers don’t have on-board mics). TruePlay is extremely effective, but I can’t evaluate Google’s tech because there’s no way to perform a before-and-after test when the tuning is going on all the time.

Compared to the Sonos One—the only true smart speaker in Sonos’ stable—or any other smart speaker, for that matter, the Max is a sonic superstar. If I didn’t have the Play:5 to compare it to, I’d have little or no criticism of the Max’s musical performance—especially for the price tag, which is $100 lower than that of Sonos’ flagship speaker. We’ll have to wait a few weeks to see if Apple’s HomePod can knock the Google Home Max off its sonic perch, but we already know that that speaker won’t support multi-room audio—at least not right out of the box.

google home max status ledsMichael Brown / IDG

Google Home Max’s feature set

The Google Home Max is a beefcake of a speaker, with an enclosure measuring 13.2 inches wide, 7.4 inches high, and 6.0 inches deep. It tips the scales at a hefty 11.6 pounds. Google provides a generous 6.5-foot power cable with a diminutive two-prong plug at the end (death to wall warts!), which makes the speaker easy to place. You can orient the cabinet either horizontally or vertically, moving a magnetic silicone furniture pad to either the broad side or the narrower right-hand side (where the power cord attaches) that will become the speaker’s bottom. Two of the Max’s far-field microphones are on the left side, so you wouldn’t want that to become the bottom.

There’s a touch-sensitive volume slider on the top of the speaker (the right-hand side when vertically oriented), along with touch-sensitive play/pause. There are no physical controls for track forward/track back, but you can, of course, accomplish that with voice commands. The speaker is remarkably adept at hearing the “Hey Google” wake word even when it’s playing music loudly.

google home max volume controlMichael Brown / IDG

Inside the Max’s sealed polycarbonate cabinet you’ll find a pair of 4.5-inch aluminum cone, high-excursion woofers with dual voice coils, along with two 0.7-inch polyester dome tweeters. These are powered by six Class D amplifiers: Each woofer gets two amplifiers, and the tweeters get one apiece. The amps have onboard DACs capable of supporting up to 24-bit/192kHz bit streams, although Google says it’s only tested sampling rates up to 48kHz (that’s where Sonos speakers max out, too). The speaker supports the FLAC, HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, MP3, Opus, Vorbis, and WAV (LPCM) codecs, but not aptX or aptX HD.

You can link two Max’s to create a stereo pair, but Google sent only one, so I wasn’t able to test that feature (you can do the same with a Play:5, and I haven’t tested that either). I did test a multi-room (well, two-room) scenario, grouping the Max with a first-generation Google Home. Playing the same song on both speakers—with the Google Home in my home office and the Google Home Max in my home theater about 35 feet away, separated by several walls—I noticed an almost imperceptible delay that I don’t think would bother anyone. That said, I haven’t tested any multi-room speaker system that plays in sync better than Sonos does. As I mentioned earlier, Apple’s HomePod won’t support multi-room audio until Apple fully releases its AirPlay 2 protocol.

The Google Home Max connects to your Wi-Fi network via a dual-band (2.4GHz/5GHz) 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter. That’s a good feature, because the 2.4GHz spectrum is exceedingly crowded and subject to interference from home appliances such as microwave ovens. Alternatively, you can plug in a USB-C-to-ethernet adapter if you want to hardwire it to your network. You can use this same port to charge a mobile device (not at the same time, of course). Every Sonos speaker has an ethernet port, but none can charge a mobile device. None of Amazon’s Echo models can be hardwired to a network, and none has a USB charging port.

google home max usb cMichael Brown / IDG

Supported music services on Google Home Max

As with Amazon’s Echo speakers, the Google Home series puts much more emphasis on music services than on personal collections stored on your home network. You can use Google Play Music, YouTube Music, or Spotify with it, as well as Pandora, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio. If you wish to use other services, such as Tidal, you’ll need to “cast” music to the speaker from that service’s app. I set up the speaker to default to my Spotify Premium account, but I used Tidal Hi-Fi for my music evaluation because it streams music at much higher resolution (FLAC). The Google Home Max does not support Tidal’s even higher-resolution MQA streams. Apple’s HomePod will reportedly support only Apple Music.

If you want to stream music you own—tracks stored on a local NAS box, for example—you’ll need to use an app, which you can launch from within the Home app if you choose. I added a button that launches Plex on my Android phone and “cast” music stored on a WD My Cloud Mirror to the Google Home Max using Plex Media Server. Sonos has the gold-standard app for managing and streaming music to its speakers, even if the company seems intent on de-emphasizing it in favor of allowing its users to stream directly from services such as Spotify and Tidal.

Google Home Max as a smart home controller

As with every Echo except the Echo Plus (which has a ZigBee radio onboard), you’ll need a smart home hub in addition to the Google Home Max to control most smart home devices (i.e., anything that doesn’t operate over Wi-Fi). But I don’t see that as a shortcoming, and my opinion of Google Home for smart home control evolved—considerably—after my smart home service provider (Vivint Smart Home) changed the way it works with Google Home on January 8 of this year.

google home max mic muteMichael Brown / IDG

Under the previous model, controlling my smart home devices via Google Home required me to say “Okay Google, ask Vivint to…” turn on a light, lock the front door, or what have you. Google Home would reply “Sure, here’s Vivint.” A second voice would then say “Okay, turning on your light.” Awkward, right?

Vivint’s new Google Home integration is much closer to the way it works with Amazon’s Alexa. I now need only say “Hey Google, turn the kitchen light on,” and it turns on. I still find the Google Assistant to be unnecessarily verbose as it performs its tasks, though. Where Alexa says simply “OK” as it fulfills my request, Google Assistant says “Sure, turning the kitchen light on” or “You got it, dimming the theater sconces,” and so forth. I don’t need a play-by-play, Google. Just do as I ask.

Is the Google Home Max worthy?

You’ll only want to invest in one smart speaker ecosystem. That leaves Google at a bit of a disadvantage because it doesn’t have anything with a display in its arsenal that can compete directly with Amazon’s Echo Show or Echo Spot. The company surprised everyone, however, with CES announcements of third-party Google Home speakers with integrated displays. Lenovo said it would ship its Lenovo Smart Display in July, and JBL announced its Link View will have an 8-inch touchscreen and a front-facing camera when it ships later this year. Sony and LG made similar announcements. Still, offering something later this year can’t compete with a product you can buy today.

If your household consists of heavy Chromecast users, on the other hand, the Google Home Max will be a natural fit. Google has done a great job of integrating its smart speakers with its media-streaming ecosystem. If you’re a Sonos household, you’ll eventually be able to control your Sonos speakers using Google Assistant in the same way you can use Amazon’s Alexa today. But like the third-party Google Assistant speakers with displays, that’s a feature that can’t be evaluated today.

Based on what can be evaluated today, the Google Home Max is the best-sounding smart speaker on the market. While Google Assistant stumbled out of the gate in terms of some smart home integrations, recent development has put it much closer to being on a par with Amazon’s Alexa. You’ll find plenty of other “dumb” powered speakers that sound better, and Sonos remains my mainstream top pick for multi-room audio, but the Google Home Max is definitely an up-and-comer.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

  • The Google Home Max is the best-sounding smart speaker on the market, but there are plenty of “dumb” powered speakers that sound better.

    Pros

    • Excellent audio reproduction
    • Strong smart home chops
    • Powerful amplifiers

    Cons

    • Not sonically superior to the more-expensive (and dumb) Sonos Play:5
    • Unnecessarily verbose responses to verbal commands
    • There are no display-equipped speakers in the Google Home ecosystem (yet)

Michael covers the smart-home, home-entertainment, and home-networking beats, working in the smart home he built in 2007.

Sours: https://www.techhive.com/article/3250827/google-home-max-review.html

Google Home Max review: Harder, better, stronger sound comes to Google Home

Like the cheaper Google Home or Home Mini, the Max builds in Google Assistant, the search giant's voice-operated digital concierge. Just say "OK Google" out loud and stuff happens -- and the Max is great at listening, even when it's playing loud. Still, if you just want background music, or you think the Home or Amazon Echo sound "fine," the Max isn't for you. This is a speaker designed from the ground up for people who demand bigger sound.

The Max's real competition includes high-end "dumb" single speakers like the Sonos Play:5 and Bose SoundTouch 30. In my comparison listening tests, Google's big speaker beat the Bose handily and matched the Sonos in many areas, with a powerful, spacious sound that fills a room well for a single speaker. I still prefer the Sonos by a nose overall, since it sounded less edgy with some styles of music, but both are excellent for this type of speaker and earned the same rating for sound quality.

Editors' note, October 2nd, 2018: This review was originally published in December 2017 and fully updated on August 17, 2018. Stay tuned for potential updates to Google Home's product line at its October 9th press event in NY. 

Card-carrying audiophiles will skip a speaker like the Max and invest in a real stereo system, which will deliver better dynamics and overall quality. Yes, you can pair two Max speakers, but the price is steep and in our tests, it didn't perform well as a pair. Two Sonos One speakers, meanwhile, pair very well, cost the same a single Max, and next year Sonos will add Google Assistant too (it has Alexa built in now). If I had to choose straight-up between a single Max and a pair of Sonos Ones in stereo mode, I'd take the Sonos speakers for their improved soundstage.

Read more: Which Google Home speaker should you buy?

By itself the Google Home Max is an excellent speaker, especially if you're already invested in Google's system and want it to anchor a multiroom setup, perhaps with a Home or two, a Chromecast Audio-connected device or something like a JBL Playlist. But a Sonos One (or two) is a better choice for most people who want improved smart-speaker sound.

The Google Home Max is available in the US for $399, while the UK and Australia are due for 2018. No pricing has been announced yet, but we expect a list price around £399 and AU$599. 

Dressed for business, built for partying

In keeping with the minimalist aesthetic of products such as the Google Home Mini and Daydream View, the Google Home Max demonstrates that twill is the new piano black. The whole front of the speaker is covered in a gray (chalk or charcoal) cloth while the back is a smooth, matte plastic.

Surprise: the Max is big. It dwarfs the Google Home, and is roughly the same size as the Sonos Play:5 at 13 inches wide by 7.5 inches high and 6 inches deep. It tips the scales at a hefty 11.7 pounds, which you'll notice if you tip it vertically to form a stereo pair. I love the magnetic silicone base, which keeps the speaker stable in either horizontal or vertical orientation.

Other features include:

  • Six onboard microphones for far-field voice control
  • Two 4.5-inch (114mm) high-excursion dual voice-coil woofers
  • Two 0.7-inch (18mm) custom tweeters
  • USB-C input
  • 3.5mm auxiliary input

The top of the speaker incorporates slick touch controls. Swipe left or right for volume, tap to pause or play. It seems that Google has dialed the sensitivity of the touch controls down after high-profile problems with the Home Mini. I had mixed results with adjusting volume, although play/pause seemed to work fine.

Yes, the Max supports Bluetooth and the company's own Chromecast built-in, but the reason this product stands out is for its built-in voice assistant. As far as functionality is concerned, this is essentially the same as the Google Home; it just sounds better. Apart from the ability to pair two Max's in stereo almost everything else is identical -- there is no added smart home functionality like the new Amazon Echo Plus offers, for example. You can talk to the speaker, control your lights, play music from Spotify or one of dozens of other things you use a Google Home for.

The Max's response to voice commands was excellent, and it did a better job deciphering my Australian accent than the Sonos One with Alexa. I found I could say "Hey Google" in a normal voice from 6 feet away and the speaker would hear it most of the time.

Everything else that the Max does in some way related to sound quality, and this includes the Smart Sound feature. Smart Sound is a self-calibration routine using the onboard microphones, which lets the speaker adjust the sound automatically according to its position in the room. No more waving your cell phone randomly around the room for five minutes as with Sonos Trueplay.  

How does it perform?

Despite the use of Digital Signal Processing, all-in-one box speakers are a series of compromises when it comes to sound quality. To its credit, the Google Home Max does a better job of hiding its faults than others. Like any speaker, it needs a little adjustment for peak performance -- I added a smidge more bass and avoided max volume -- but it is one of the few models that performs well with most genres. Compared to the Sonos Play:5, which is a great dance/rock speaker, the Google Home Max had a less boxy, more atmospheric sound.

No other track I tried illustrated this better than "Yulunga (Spirit Dance)" by Dead Can Dance. With this track spinning from Spotify, the Google speaker exhibited a huge sound that extended beyond the boundaries of the cabinet. All of the elements -- the singer's voice, the left-right panned shaker eggs, the various drums -- are treated equally, and none of them jut out awkwardly.

Compared to Play:5 there was less bass energy overall, but the Max's bass was relatively tight. While the Google was able to capture the majesty of this song, it was the Sonos that found its drama. The Sonos featured lots of low-frequency effects that the Google speaker failed to catch.

Next up was the rock track "The Bar is Low" by Pissed Jeans. It started well and I had a boogie by myself, alone -- so, so alone -- but when it got to the chorus the Google ran out of puff, sounding a little top heavy. Even so I liked it better than the Sonos Play:5, which didn't sound quite as fun with this energetic track.

While I like the Sonos for dance music in general, I actually prefered the Google speaker on Daft Punk's "Get Lucky." Though the Sonos had better low-end punch, Pharrell cold sound a little chesty compared to the more open-sounding Google.

Despite the self-tuning capabilities of the Google speaker, I found that I needed to tweak it a little, especially when sitting on table in free space. For most material, adjusting the Max's bass by +3db in the Google Home app's settings helped propel rock and dance songs and reduce the brightness a tad.

The biggest issue with the Max's sound was its potentially piercing midrange. Unfortunately I couldn't adjust it out; turning treble down all the way didn't help much. If you like Dick Dale or bluegrass violin solos, maybe you should consider a different speaker.

Compared to the more-expensive Bose SoundTouch 30, the Max blew it away.  Both speakers have a similarly energetic sound profile, but the Bose just can't match the Max's volume levels without distorting, even at only two-thirds of maximum. The Google speaker did sound a little scratchy at 100 per cent, so I backed it off to 90 per cent for most playback, which was still plenty loud for our 11-by-20-foot listening room.

Finally I tested the Max's ability to play in stereo, paired with a second Max. Unfortunately it's a little wobbly here: the stereo focus drops in and out and the sound doesn't acquire the expected depth that buying another $400 speaker should warrant. A pair of Sonos One speakers, meanwhile, sound great in stereo. Of course Sonos has a big wireless audio head-start on Google, so maybe the Max's stereo performance can be improved with software updates.

Should you buy it?

Is the Google Home Max the speaker that will tempt audiophiles away from their two-channel systems? In a word, no. This is a single-box speaker, and subject to all the compromises that type of form factor introduces. If you prioritize performance and are trying to decide between a pair of Maxes and a stereo system, the choice is easy -- get a stereo system.

For example, a pair of Q Acoustics 3020s, a Yamaha R-S202 and a Google Chromecast Audio will kick the butt of this system in terms of both dynamics and sound stage. Throw in a Google Home Mini for voice control and you're golden.

But let's say you don't want to bother with separates and value the clean look of a single speaker. If you're mostly doing background listening, my advice is to save the money and get a single Sonos One at half the price of the Max -- or even a Google Home or Mini, if you're on a tighter budget.

For bigger spenders, Google's big speaker is right up there with the Sonos Play:5 in terms of sound quality, and it's now the leading speaker we'd recommend at this price if you want a Chomecast-based multiroom system.

Sours: https://www.cnet.com/reviews/google-home-max-review/
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Google is selling the Home Max smart speaker again, for now

Despite Google’s Home Max being officially retired and pulled from sale a couple of weeks ago, the Google Store is once again offering the speaker for sale. While flashing a message saying the device is sold out and prompting customers to try out a pair of the new Nest Audio devices instead, it will still let you check out a Charcoal-colored Home Max speaker for $179.

Buy Google Home Max at Google Store - $179

Everything we said in our 2017 review still stands, in that this voice-activated speaker has excellent sound quality and plugs directly into Google’s Assistant ecosystem, except it doesn’t cost $400 anymore. It’s unclear how many unsold units are left, but as Android Police notes, this may be your actual last chance to snag one if you missed out on the Black Friday sales that dropped its price to $150.

If $179 isn’t quite low enough get you to bite, then check out Google’s eBay page, where the device is available in both Charcoal and Chalk with full warranty and free shipping, but adds an extra $20 discount that’s available through Thursday.

Update (12/31) - The price on eBay has risen since this was posted, first to $199, and the speaker is now listed for $209.99, but it’s still available on the Google Store for $179.

Buy Google Home Max (Chalk) at eBay - $159

Buy Google Home Max (Charcoal) at eBay - $159

Sours: https://www.engadget.com/google-home-max-will-never-die-052217981.html
This computer was designed for smart kids

The cheapest Google Home sales for October 2021: the best Home Mini, Hub, and Max deals

Your guide to the best Google Home sales that are happening online. We're rounding up the best deals on Google's smart home speaker lineup, including the Google Home, Google Home Mini, Google Nest Hub (previously known as the Google Home Hub), and the Google Home Max. We've also added the latest sales for the new Google Nest Hub Max and Google Nest Mini devices.

The Google Home family of smart speakers are amongst the most popular smart speakers on the market that tap into the convenience of voice control. And don't tell Alexa, but Google Assistant has proved to be considerably smarter at answering our requests. The Google Home and Google Home Mini are roughly on a par with the Amazon Echo range in terms of audio quality for music, but the newer Google Home Max frankly thrashes any of Amazon's Echo speakers for music fans that want to feel every beat.

After you save on your new smart speaker, getting going with it is as simple as a voice command. All you need to do is say 'Ok Google' and ask your Google Home any question you like. Google Assistant uses the enormously powerful Google search engine to bring you the answer.

More features and apps are being added all the time, but right now, you can stream music from Google Play, Spotify, Tunein, or your phone. There are smart home tech features to pair it with too, so watch in awe as you smart lights and thermostats are told what to do. Even the basic features prove incredibly handy, such as adding items to shopping and to-do lists or setting alarms – finally, no more burnt pizza!

The cheapest Google Home Mini deals

The best option for first-time smart speaker buyers

Size: 1.65 x 3.85-inch | Microphones: 2 | Screen: No | Aux input: No | Available colors: Grey, Black, Orange, Aqua | Launch price: $49 / £49

Discrete size

The cheapest option

Surprisingly loud sound

The Google Home Mini is a smaller cheaper version of Google Home, first unveiled in 2017. Instead of a pricey £129/$129, like its bigger older brother, you pay $49 in the US and £49 in the UK for the Home Mini but you can get it for much less at regular intervals throughout the year.

Naturally, the Google Home Mini comes with Google Assistant, meaning you ask it questions by simply starting with, "Ok, Google." And with the power of Google search engine behind it and now a super low price to match, Alexa's time may be up.

Color options include chalk (grey), charcoal (black) coral (pink) and the newest entry is mint (light green). At such a cheap price point, you may be tempted to get more than one, especially for family homes as a new Broadcast app allows you to talk to any Google Home device in the house.

Google Home Mini deals have been strong of late as Google is keen to catch up to the Amazon Echo Dot sales, so you'll rarely have to pay the full RRP. Check out our full Google Home Mini review for the full rundown on the diminutive smart speaker.

The best Google Nest Mini deals

Like the Home Mini, but a bit louder

Size: 1.65 x 3.85-inch | Microphones: 3 | Screen: No | Aux input: No | Colours: Chalk, Charcoal, Coral, Sky | Launch Price: $49 / £49 / AU$79

Google Assistant upgraded with machine learning

Bass boosted for bigger sound

Capacitive touch controls

There are some modest upgrades found in the Google Nest Mini - the long-awaited follow up to the Google Home Mini. As far as the visual design goes, nothing has changed though, which is a little disappointing in all honesty and certainly won't have many people trading in their older model an immediate upgrade.

The Nest Mini has slightly improved capacitive control features for volume and playback, with sensor-activated LEDs guiding your hand to the correct control spots. While the Google Nest Mini is still powered by Google Assistant, it now utilizes onboard machine learning to fine-tune your queries and speed up response times over the Home Mini. There's also a new slot on the underside of the device that will let you hang the speaker on a wall.

The speaker is supported by an improved bass, and an overall larger speaker system housed in the same chassis. We found the original version to be surprisingly loud for a cheap music player and the extra bass is appreciated here. The Nest Mini has the same starting price as the Home Mini but the older device is often on sale for much less and we expect the Nest Mini to follow suit to keep up the pace on Amazon's Echo Dot series.

The cheapest Google Home deals

Like the Mini, but louder

Size: 6 x 4-inch | Microphones: 2 | Screen: No | Aux input: No | Available colors: Grey (other bases sold separately) | Launch price: $129 / £129

Google assistant is great

Louder sound than the Mini

Reasonably priced

The standard Google Home was the first smart speaker Google released. It costs a fair bit more than the Home Mini, but the more powerful speaker can be worth it if you want to play louder music. It's a great middle option between the choice of three speakers and considerably cheaper than the high-end Google Home Max.

So, how much is the original Google Home? Prices started around the $129 / £129 mark, but retailers are slowly getting more competitive nowadays. We're seeing more discounts to keep the price well below this. Need to know more? Then check out our full Google Home review.

The best Google Nest Hub deals

Google Assistant only gets better with a screen

Size: 4.5 x 7-inch | Microphones: 2 | Screen: 7-inch touchscreen | Aux input: no | Available colors: Grey, Black | Launch price: $149 / £139

Native YouTube support

Way cheaper than the Echo Show

Great for How To and other video content

The Google Home Hub has now been renamed Google Nest Hub. It's taking a while for retailers to update their listings though. The two items are actually exactly the same, it's just a name change. So don't be alarmed if the retail box simply has a sticker over the old name.

We've been waiting a while for a screen on one of Google's smart speakers and late in 2018 we finally got one with the Google Home Hub. With a RRP of just $149 / £139 / AU$219, the Nest Hub is much cheaper than the similarly-sized Amazon Echo Show. 

The Google Nest Hub naturally supports a huge range of smart home products like Hue bulbs, Nest thermostats and so on. Unlike the Amazon Echo Show, you're getting full YouTube support, which is great for watching music video, trailers, cooking videos, how-to content and so on - a huge advantage over the rival device. We frequently find the voice-activated Google Assistant outperforms Amazon's Alexa at pretty much every turn too. 

The Nest Hub doesn't have a camera built-in, so you can't use it for video calls. If that's something you really want, we've rounded up the latest Amazon Echo Show prices for you too or take a look at the Google Home Hub Max below. For more details on this one though, take a look at our Google Nest Hub review.

The best Google Nest Hub Max deals

Video calls are an option on this larger screen too

Size: 9.85 x 7.19-inch | Microphones: 2 | Screen: 10-inch touchscreen | Aux input: no | Available colors: Grey, Black | Launch price: $229 / £219

Sours: https://www.techradar.com/news/google-home-prices-deals

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Pandemic-driven boom in e-commerce helps Huboo’s warehousing platform close $81M

Many e-commerce businesses run their entire order fulfillment process in-house because outsourcing it can be expensive. But the COVID-19 pandemic has supercharged many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as consumers switched to home deliveries and “digitized” their lifestyles to a far greater extent. It means this surge in e-commerce sales is subsequently leading to a boom in warehousing and shipping.

It would seem then that Huboo was virtually tailor-made for the post-pandemic era. It has a full-stack, software-driven e-commerce warehousing and fulfillment system that is turning out to be a boon to these e-commerce-driven SMBs.

It’s now closed a £60 million ($81.4 million) Series B financing led by U.S.-based Mubadala Capital. The round was joined by existing investors including Stride, Ada Ventures, Hearst, Episode 1 and Maersk Growth, and takes Huboo’s total funding raised to nearly £80 million since April 2019, after its £14 million Series A funding, raised last year.

Founded in 2017 by Martin Bysh and Paul Dodd out of one warehouse in Bristol, the company now has four fulfilment centres across the U.K., a site in the Netherlands, and has plans to roll out across other European markets. Each center is split into a “micro-hub” of a few hundred square foot enabling staff to pick and pack inventory more efficiently. It says it has over 1,000 customers, small and large.

The company’s merchant platform uses APIs to integrate with popular sales channels and online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Shopify. These allow D2C brands to view and track orders and manage their inventory on a dashboard. It also has proprietary software to manage warehouse operations.

Martin Bysh, co-founder and CEO of Huboo, said: “Scores of new and existing retail businesses now see their future in e-commerce, but while anyone can set up an online store-front and start selling within hours, the infrastructure powering e-commerce is alarmingly outdated, inefficient, inflexible and expensive.”

He said this hub model addresses this: “It brings flexibility and affordability to the incredibly complex fulfilment piece so that online retailers of all sizes — from part-timers to fast-growth D2C leaders — can benefit.”

Over a call, he added: “We win clients from Amazon’s ‘Fulfilled By Amazon’ (FBA) because part of the 20% that the seller pays to Amazon goes to cross-subsidize the inexpensive fulfillment, but if you’re trying to use FBA (because you’re selling on eBay or Shopify) it’s hopeless. It’s, like, three times as expensive. So we get people using Shopify or eBay. They love what we’re doing… We compete very effectively against them… They’re not the nimble creature they were years ago.”

Fatou Bintou Sagnang, partner at Mubadala Capital Ventures, said: “Huboo’s product solves one of the most critical pain points for e-commerce companies — while order fulfillment is a core function for these companies, it is not part of their core competency. By combining logistics with a user-friendly software platform, Huboo delivers a superior fulfillment experience and allows businesses of all sizes to continue focusing on core activities such as product development while managing growing demand from their customers.”

Matt Penneycard, founding partner at Ada Ventures, said: “Huboo is a shining light of U.K. tech, and we’re particularly delighted for a Bristol-based company to be succeeding this way! Martin and Paul’s incredible vision is becoming a global reality at supersonic speed.”

Fred Destin, founder at Stride.VC, said: “Huboo does the seemingly impossible — to deliver high-precision e-commerce fulfillment cost-effectively to businesses of all sizes and levels of complexity. Huboo innovates both in how it looks at logistics, as an interlocked set of Lego blocks connected by software, and how it looks at people, as a team of empowered self-starters obsessed about customer success.”

Sours: https://techcrunch.com/2021/10/06/pandemic-driven-boom-in-e-commerce-helps-huboos-warehousing-platform-close-81m/
Is the Google Home Max Still Worth It??

Google Home Max Smart Assistant - Charcoal

Product Information

  • Need some help around the house? Get your own personal assistant when you purchase the Google Home Max Smart Assistant in charcoal. The Max Smart allows you to control your home using just vocal commands, including creating your daily to-do list and schedule, notifying you of appointment reminders, or even adjusting your thermostat. The assistant is compatible with over 1,000 other devices you can sync to the Max Smart to create a complete smart home environment, including Nest and Honeywell. Dim the lights or turn them off as you exit the room, or start your device-compatible coffee maker before you even open your eyes in the morning. You can ask the Max Smart just about anything, whether you need a quick dinner recipe, need to check the weather for the week, or want to test your kids' movie knowledge with games like the Star Wars Trivia Challenge. Your Max Smart can even tell your kids a story to keep them occupied while you cook dinner or pay bills. Make cleaning go by faster by streaming your favorite songs while you dust. With a built-in high excursion speaker, the Google Home assistant gives you superior sound and access to your Google Play playlists along with your favorite stations on iHeartRadio or Pandora, and you can simply tell your Max Smart exactly what you want to hear and it begins playing instantly. Connect your Google Home assistant to your Chromecast and you've got a complete entertainment system at your fingertips. Tell your Max Smart exactly what you want to watch, and soon you'll be streaming your favorite shows or movies without even picking up the remote control. You can also access your photos and share them via your TV's display, or put on some music videos and dance the day away. Simple to set up and fun for the entire family to use, the Google Home Max Smart Assistant makes your time more productive; you may even find extra hours in the day.

Product Identifiers

  • Brand

    Google

  • MPN

    GA00223-US

  • UPC

    0842776103055

  • Model

    Google Home Max

  • eBay Product ID (ePID)

    239086860

Product Key Features

  • Color

    Black

  • Connectivity

    Bluetooth

  • Manufacturer Color

    Charcoal

Additional Product Features

  • Media Streaming

    Home Network Media

  • Audio/Video Outputs

    Headphone Jack

  • Features

    Alarm Clock, Music, Wi-Fi, With Voice Control

  • Model Number

    Home MAX Charcoal

  • Type

    Smart Assistant

  • Product Line

    Google Home

  • Media Input Connectivity

    Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Sours: https://www.ebay.com/p/239086860

Now discussing:

10 things to try with your new Google Home smart speaker

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If you got a Google Home Mini, Google Home, or Google Home Max recently, congrats. With Google’s AI-powered assistant inside these and other speakers, you can ask questions about virtually anything, set reminders, get info about your commute to work, go shopping, and control devices in your home, all without lifting a finger.

Home speakers even have features you can’t get with Google Assistant on a smartphone, notebook, or tablet. So without further ado, let’s get to know what you can do with your new AI assistant.

1. Configure custom settings

There are many ways to personalize Google Assistant to meet your needs. You’ll have to start with downloading the Google Home app, which gives you the choice to integrate your Google account and calendar. After that, I suggest connecting the assistant to streaming services like IHeartRadio, TuneIn, Spotify, or Netflix. Virtually everything mentioned in this article, from streaming service connection to choosing a male or female voice, can be accomplished by visiting the settings section of the Google Home or Google Assistant apps.

Once you’ve got your music and movies plugged in, set up Voice Match for unique voice identification.

Google Assistant with a Home smart speaker can be trained to recognize up to six unique voices in order to ensure it shares your information when you ask “What’s on my calendar today?” It can also use your voice signature to remember accounts configured to interact with voice apps or display Google Photos with Chromecast.

After that, you can set up My Day. Every time you say “OK Google, tell me about my day,” you get weather, commute, your next meeting, your reminders, and, if you choose to receive them, news updates. It’s basically Google Assistant’s first shortcut task.

Shortcuts are another great way to customize the Google Assistant experience. Shortcuts are custom voice commands that can be created using the Google Home app. For example, you can program Google Assistant to turn off all the lights in your home each time you say “OK Google, goodnight” or show you pictures of your family from last year every time you say “OK Google, I’m feeling nostalgic.”

Another great way to customize Google Assistant is with IFTTT, a service that can link the AI assistant to more than 300 services. With IFTTT, you can incorporate the apps you use today even if they aren’t already a part of the Google app ecosystem. For example, let’s say you really like Wunderlist, a to-do list app owned by Microsoft. There’s no native way to add items to a list today using Google Assistant, but it can be done if you create an IFTTT applet.

2. Ask questions

Google Assistant is pretty smart. In fact, in October Google announced that the assistant is now able to answer 100 million unique questions, so ask away and see what happens.

In addition to being able to answer questions that draw on Google search, the Assistant can tell you what certain animals sound like or answer questions about the meaning of life.

Google Assistant is also able to translate more than 100 languages. Just ask “OK Google, how do you say ‘Hello’ in Arabic?”

Google Assistant can also answer questions about the latest sport scores, help you cook dinner, and do math for you.

3. Get to know Google Assistant’s personality

Ask Google to tell you a joke or sing a song and you’re interacting with Google Assistant’s personality. The personality team for Google Assistant is led by Ryan Germick, head of the team that has made the doodles seen on google.com for years now. He’s joined by writers from The Onion and Pixar.

You can also ask Google Assistant the kinds of things you would ask any human, like “How old are you?” “What’s the meaning of life?” or “What is love?” Ask a personality-related question and — just as for any other question you may ask — Google Assistant will suggest responses.

Is Google Assistant a human? No. Is Google a multi-billion dollar corporation with a mountain of your personal data whose main objective may be to have you buy things or use its products? Yup. Is it fun to chat with Google Assistant and explore these personality traits? Ah, yup.

4. Listen to music and news

Naturally, playing music is one of the most-used features on smart speakers. In your Google Assistant settings, you can connect with Google Play Music or Spotify as your default music provider. Google Assistant can play music based on a song title, artist, album, or genre, or you can simply say “OK Google, play some music” for personalized results based on your past activity.

In the U.S., there are also more than 100 choices for news from outlets like CNN, Reuters, NPR, Fox News, BBC, and CBS Sports Radio. News is also available in various languages for users in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Google Assistant can also play you ambient sounds, like the crackle of a fireplace or the sound of a running river.

5. Get to know voice apps

Google Assistant can speak with hundreds of voice apps made by businesses and third-party developers like Domino’s, Quora, and WebMD to help you do things like order a pizza or find out the symptoms for a specific illness.

Other voice apps include WikiHow for DIY instructions for any number of tasks and This Day in History from History Channel.

The directory of Google Assistant voice apps broken down by categories is the best way to get acquainted with these offerings. The directory can be found by touching the blue icon in the top right-hand corner when you summon Google Assistant on an Android device, and in the Explore tab of the Google Assistant app for iOS users.

6. Play games

Google Assistant has voice apps especially made for playing games — like movie or sports trivia or choose-your-own-adventure games.

Ask Google to play Lucky Trivia and Google Assistant will act as your game show host.

In addition to these games, in October Google launched a collection of more than 50 apps or services especially for kids. Children can use them to ask Google to read more than 20 stories, like “The Chef Who Loved Potatoes” or “Little Red Riding Hood,” and to beatbox or play games like musical chairs.

Amazon has also made a major commitment to bringing games to its personal assistant, Alexa.

7. Make phone calls and send messages

Google Assistant is able to make free phone calls in Canada and the United States to any business or personal number in those countries. You can also send text messages or have your latest text messages read to you. Placing phone calls with Google Assistant can be a delightfully easy experience. Say “Call a nearby florist” or “Call the Target on Geary Street” or “Call mom” and (usually) Google can connect you to the person you want to speak to with very little trouble.

Even better: If you lose your Android phone, Google Assistant can call it for you. Just say “Hey, Google, find my phone.”

8. Connect with smart devices

Remember when Google Assistant was Google Now? There wasn’t a whole lot of smart home control to speak of back then, but today Google Assistant can work with 150 home automation brands and more than 1,000 devices — like televisions, sprinklers, light bulbs, and thermostats, as well as ovens, vacuums, security cameras, and many others. IFTTT can also help you integrate devices not native to the Google Assistant experience.

Connect your Google Assistant with Chromecast and you can ask the assistant to play content from HBO, Crackle, Viki, and YouTube. Pictures from Google Photos can be requested with natural language if you ask to see images of a specific person or photos taken at a certain time or location. It’s possible to stream live security camera footage to Chromecast, a feature added in October.

You can also assign devices to rooms and make groups of Home devices. Assigning a device to a room allows you to say “Turn off lights in the family room” or “Turn on the air conditioner in the bedroom group.”

9. Go shopping

Earlier this year, Google Home speakers were given the ability to connect with Google Express to make purchases — in much the way an Amazon Echo device is able to order items from the Amazon marketplace. Google Express can take orders from more than 50 major retailers in the U.S., including giants like Target, Costco, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot, as of September.

To shop with Express, you must enter your payment information and your address in the personal information section of the Google Home app. To be clear: You can’t yet go shopping with Google Assistant on your phone or using a pair of Pixel Buds.

You can also make purchases with voice apps from companies like Domino’s to get a pizza or place an order at Panera.

A new kind of shopping experience is also emerging, thanks to new multi-surface functionality introduced this fall. With the eBay voice app, you can ask Google Assistant to show you an item for sale. From there, the voice app asks a few clarifying questions about what you’re looking for and then sends results to your smartphone, where you can peruse the list and decide whether to complete a transaction.

10. Monitor your activity

Finally, if you’re going to have Google Assistant around to check on flight updates or find a handyman or pick an insurance provider with a voice app, you’re going to want a place to manage these requests — to retrace your steps or occasionally delete an interaction. That’s what My Activity was made for.

To see your recent interactions with Google Assistant, tap the menu in the top right-hand corner and choose My Activity in the Google Assistant portion of an Android smartphone or the Google Assistant app on iOS.

Ask for directions with Google Home and they will appear in this space on your smartphone. Same goes for any time you ask “When’s my next flight?” or about events on your calendar.

To stay up to date with the latest Google Assistant features and upgrades, subscribe to the AI Weekly newsletter.

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Sours: https://venturebeat.com/2017/12/26/10-things-to-do-with-your-google-home-smart-speaker/


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