Google Home review: After nearly two years, is it still worth it?

Google Home is the original Google Assistant enabled smart speaker. When it launched competition didn’t exist. If you wanted an Assistant enabled speaker, it was your only choice. Since then, there have been several Assistant smart speakers released. Your choices are no longer as limited as they once were. Now the question is, how does Google Home compare when it is no longer your only choice?

Design

The Google Home has a neutral design that blends seamlessly into most rooms. It mostly resembles an air freshener in my opinion, and I mean that as a compliment. Google Home simply blends in and won’t draw any extra attention to itself. It is not meant to look like a piece of tech and it excels at this.

A lot of this comes from the color choice and shape of the device. However, if you want yours to stand out you can easily buy replaceable bases and even skins for the top plastic section. The fabric base is held on securely by magnets and is easy to slide off and on. I’m happy to let mine look like a fancy air freshener.

My favorite part of the design would be the hidden LEDs on the top of the unit. The purpose of these is to give you feedback when Assistant is listening, thinking, or speaking to you. There is something so satisfying about watching the four multicolored LEDs light up and dance around. It’s honestly what I miss most when using any other Assistant enabled speaker.

Besides the animated LEDs on the top, there is also a touch sensor for controlling the volume. By running your finger in a circle around the top you can lower or raise the volume as indicated by the white LED volume meter. Then, of course, there is the mute button for the microphone on the back.

Features

Google Home launched with some fantastic features such as controlling your smart home, music playback, alarms, timers, updating you with your daily news and weather, and more. All you had to do was utter the command and like your digital genie, Assistant would light up and do your bidding. Over time it has gained more and more abilities such as making phone calls, adding reminders, playing games, and the list goes on and on.

Read More: 9 Tips and tricks for your Google Assistant speaker

While all Google Assistant smart speakers share essentially the same features, there is one exclusive to the Google speakers. For whatever reason, you can only make calls using the Google Assistant speakers at this time. Asking any other Assistant enabled speaker to make a call will be met with the reply “sorry I can’t make calls yet”.

Microphone Performance

The far-field microphones used in the Google Home speaker are some of the best I’ve ever used. Through my testing of several other smart speakers, I’ve always found the Google Home to be one of the top performers in this category. In fact, it even works better than the one on my smartwatch. Many times when trying to activate my watch only inches from my face Google Home would light up while the watch laid dormant.

Sound Quality

As a bit of an audiophile, I’ve been disappointed in the audio quality of the Google Home speaker since day one. The good news is the Google Home speaker has tons of bass and is very loud. I didn’t expect that given the compact size of this speaker. The bad news is, the bass is overwhelming and it lacks any detail in the high end making audio sound muddy overall.

An overwhelming amount of bass isn’t always a bad thing. For instance, when listening to rap, pop, or dance music it can be nice to feel the impact of the bass. Thankfully, if you’re not enjoying the sound quality of the Google Home speaker, there is a solution. Nearly a year after its release, Google finally added an equalizer option into the settings.

With the ability to tweak the bass and treble you can greatly improve the sound quality. However, even after adjusting the equalizer audio quality still falls short of some other Assistant speakers on the market. While the equalizer is a great feature, it also appears to be another Google speaker exclusive. None of the other speakers I’ve reviewed have included this option.

Final Thoughts

The great thing about smart speakers is they don’t age the same as other tech does. They don’t get slower over time, the battery life doesn’t decline, and a new faster one doesn’t come out every year. That means your smart speaker never gets worse, in fact, it actually gets better over time. Your smart speaker is always evolving as the AI improves and new skills and features are added.

With that said, there is no doubt that Google Home is better now than it has ever been. However, it no longer stands alone and you now have more choices than you have ever had when buying an Assistant enabled speaker.

Read more: Here are all the Google Assistant speakers, headphones, and displays you can buy

My biggest complaint about the Google Home was always the audio quality. However, after the introduction of the equalizer setting Google has almost negated that entirely. There are still slightly better sounding speakers in the same price range, but none are as fully featured as the Google Home. Making it one of the best choices when it comes to buying a midrange smart speaker. If you’re interested in picking one up you can get it from one of the links below.

Google Store ABT Best Buy B&H Photo Frys Newegg Target Verizon Walmart