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News, Technology | May 30, 2017


Amazon blew the industry wide open with its release of the Echo back in 2014, and has since become the company’s most popular hardware product. However, Google has since gotten in on the fun with the Google Home, a direct Echo competitor that aims to reign supreme. But which one should you buy if you’re in the market for a virtual home assistant? Here are some key points to know about both devices to see which one might be best suited for you.

Google Home Is Much More Knowledgeable

This should come as no surprise, but when it comes to asking random questions about all sorts of facts, Google Home comes out on top. That’s not to say the Amazon Echo is completely stupid, but in our testing, there were a handful of questions that the Google Home was able to provide an answer, while Alexa simply just replied with “Sorry, I don’t know the answer to your question.”

However, Alexa was able to do a better job in some areas, like when I asked both devices “How many movies has Tom Hanks been in?” Alexa was able to come up with the answer (83 films), while Google Home simply just named off a few movies that Hanks directed. Google Home is also able to remember the previous question, which is useful. So if you asked “Who played Woody in Toy Story?”, Google Home would say Tom Hanks, and then you could follow up with “How old is he?” and Google Home would say his age, even though you didn’t directly say “Tom Hanks”. Alexa isn’t able to do this. Overall, Alexa knows some stuff, but Google knows more.

Both Have Great Tastes In Music

By default, the Echo uses Amazon’s Prime Music service and Google Home uses Google Play Music, both of which are great sources for streaming tunes. The biggest difference is how many songs each service has in their catalog. Amazon Prime Music only has around two million songs available, whereas Google Play Music has an astounding 35 million songs. You’ll find most popular songs on both services, though.

However, Amazon Music Unlimited is a newer service from the company that boasts “tens of millions of songs”. Even if you’re a Prime member, though, you still have to shell out a monthly payment for it. Furthermore, both Prime Music and Google Play Music require a monthly payment, with the smaller Prime Music library included in Amazon’s Prime service. Besides the defaults, though, both the Echo and Home can link to your Spotify or Pandora accounts, so if you’re committed to one of those music providers instead, it’s no problem.

Google Home Can Recognize Individual Voices

More than likely there are multiple people living in your house, which means multiple people using the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Both devices have multiple-account support, but only the Google Home knows who exactly it’s talking to. This makes it way easier to get information that’s pertinent only to you. So instead of saying something like “Hey Google, what’s on Craig’s calendar for today?” (which would be weird to say my own name), you can instead just say “What’s on my calendar for today?”. The Google Home will recognize your distinct voice and name off upcoming events that are on your calendar and no one else’s.

Both Have Decent Speakers

The full-size Echo and the Google Home come with surprisingly robust speakers that sound pretty good—certainly not as good as a dedicated speaker system, but good enough to keep at a respectable volume while you putz around the house.

However, the speakers on the Google Home tend to go south the louder you turn them up, so I wouldn’t want to crank the volume if I want to keep the quality decent. Of course, if you have an Echo Dot, you can connect external speakers to it as long as the stereo system you’re plugging in has an auxilary jack. The full-size Echo and the Google Home don’t have audio out ports, so you’re stuck using the built-in speakers on those.

There are other small things, of course. For example, “OK Google” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the way “Alexa” does, which makes a bigger difference than you’d think. Conversely, Google Home comes with a customizable base, which is nice if you want it to fit in better with your home.

In the end, both are really good options, and it depends on what you’ll be using it for as far as which one you should go with. The Echo is better for smarthome integration and has slightly better speakers, and it integrates with a lot of different services through third-party Alexa Skills, but the Google Home’s vast search knowledge is likely something that Amazon will never touch, and the Chromecast support is pretty neat if you’re invested in that area.


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