Alexa has competition. Last November Google introduced its device: the Home. I just got mine set up this afternoon and thought you'd like some early thoughts.
Physically, this unit is perhaps a bit more than the height of the Echo. Its diameter is just a shade smaller, but it tapers a bit as one moves toward the top. The top surface slopes down for an inch or two. This part of the Home is a touch surface. Sliding on it in a clockwise direction increases the audio level. Moving counterclockwise lowers it. Tapping the surface pauses or resumes play.
The lower portion of the Home feels like a cloth mesh. This mesh can be removed and replaced by a mesh, or screen, of a different color.
With this removed, we can see three small speakers. One faces left and one faces right. These are the mid/high-end drivers. The remaining loudspeaker faces forward and is the subwoofer. It is capable of wide cone excursions and can produce considerable low-frequency response down to perhaps 55 Hz. Believe me! this is very impressive, although somewhat boomy at times. Overall, the sound is better than that of the Amazon Echo.
There is no jack for obtaining audio to a sound system. This reminds me of how Apple has removed audio jacks from some of its devices. Audio can still feed a sound system via a small device known as a Google Audio Crhomecast. TV can be supported by a Video Chromecast. (I do not have that unit so cannot discuss it.)
The price of the Google Home is $130. The Audio Chromecast costs $35.
Like the Echo, the Home must be set up using a Google Home app. There are 28 steps to set it up. I had an experienced sighted helper and he got it going in a bit over a half hour.
Again, like the Echo, most items are opened, or linked, via the app. Some services have a monthly charge. Lots of music can be heard at no charge. Pandora and Google Play can be heard that way. If, however, you ask to hear a particular artist, you'll hear him or her but mixed with other artists.
The Audio Chromcast must be linked to the Home. If you give each device its own name, you can hear your selection from the device you ask for when requesting an item.
If no name is called, the sound will emanate from the Home. Like the Echo, the Home uses a wake up word, either Okay Google or Hey Google.
I wish this list could accept attachments. I could have described the equipment in greater detail, and you could have heard the amazing sound this equipment can produce.
This does it for now. I look forward to hearing from others as they experiment with this product. If you find that I made any errors in this presentation, I look forward to knowing about them.
Joe Giovanelli, W2PVY