Judging by how new iPhones always sell out, it’s safe to say that Singaporeans are pretty passionate about owning all the latest gadgets. One such thingamajig is Google Home, a “smart speaker” that reacts when you speak to it. Here’s what Singaporeans should know about Google Home before making an impulse purchase.
What is Google Home and how does it work?
Google Home (and the smaller, cheaper Google Home Mini) reacts to commands given to them by voice. Sort of like Siri, but more useful, because you can also use it to control your home’s smart devices.
Here’s a list of things you can do with Google Home:
- Play music
- Receive news updates
- Receive the weather forecast
- Check local traffic
- Listen to podcasts, radio stations, audiobooks and ambient sounds
- Control smart home appliances like TV and lights
- Play TV programmes, movies and YouTube videos using Chromecast
- Play audio on speakers and TVs using Chromecast
- Schedule your day using Google Calendar
- Receive flight information
- Create a to-do list
- Find recipes and receive step-by-step instructions
- Make calls
- Set reminders
- Set timers
- Ask for facts and info about random stuff, as well as dictionary definitions, nutritional information and unit conversions
- Stream your security camera with Chromecast
What can Singaporeans get out of Google Home?
The fact that most Singaporeans live in relatively small flats or apartments actually makes them perfect candidates for Google Home, as it means fewer Google Home devices will be needed to allow you to remain in range at all times.
More and more new homes now feature smart technologies, and more Singaporeans are using smart devices to monitor children and elderly people. These can be hooked up to Google Assistant and controlled using Google Home, so long as the monitor supports Chromecast.
With Google Home, you can play your favourite album without having to get out of your seat, or check traffic conditions before leaving the house. All these things can already be done on your computer and smartphone, but Google Home makes things a bit faster.
The catch is that if you want to use Google Home to control any other device, the device must be a “smart device” to be part of the Google ecosystem. For example, if you want to stream your security camera to your TV, the camera needs to be a smart camera and support Chromecast.
At the moment, these smart devices have not fully caught on in Singapore, so you’ll find that your Google Home isn’t as fully functional as you’d like it to be.
Google Home vs Google Home Mini – which is better?
Google Home comes in two flavours: normal and mini.
Google Home Mini is the smaller and cheaper version. It retails at $79 on the Google Store. There’s current promotion so it’s $59. You can also find it for as cheap at $52 on sites like Lazada and Shopee.
This looks like a little fabric-covered pebble. It’s nice and compact, and runs on a micro-USB cable, and it has full Google Assistant functionality, making it more than adequate for functions like playing news and information snippets or controlling smart devices in your home.
The main difference is that it’s weaker in terms of volume and sound quality. Because of its diminutive size, it can’t produce the kind of bass needed for pleasant music listening. Changing the volume is a bit more troublesome too because there are fewer buttons on the device.
The original Google Home is much larger and more expensive. It’s going for $189 on the Google Store but there’s a current promotion so it’s selling at $149. That’s even cheaper than sites like Qoo10 and Lazada, where the price hovers around $160.
It’s definitely not as compact as Google Home Mini, which isn’t great for shoebox-sized BTOs. It charges with a plug and consumes more energy than Google Home Mini.
However, sound quality is way better, which is good if you use it to listen to music. If you think of this as an alternative to a sound bar or standalone speaker, the price is pretty comparable, making the Google Home an attractive option.
Are there any alternatives to Google Home?
The most famous alternatives to Google Home are the following:
- Apple HomePod
- Amazon Echo
- Lenovo Smart Assistant
- Tmall Genie
Unfortunately, none of these are available in Singapore, probably because a localised version would have to be created to work better with the Singaporean accent.
Is it worthwhile to spend that money on Google Home?
First of all, the Google Home falls squarely in the category of nice-to-haves, not a need (yet).
But you might be tempted by the Google Home Mini‘s small price tag. The device can potentially save you a bit of trouble since you will not have to open your computer or type on your smartphone in order to obtain quick snippets of information or news.
Still, is it worth spending money for these little conveniences? Probably not. Besides, the average Singaporean has a smartphone glued to their person at all times anyway. It doesn’t really save time.
However, if you’re shopping for speakers or a sound bar for your home, you might want to consider buying a Google Home. The sound quality makes it more pleasant to use as a music streaming device. You can hook it up to your Spotify at home without having to fiddle with the app on your phone or turning on your computer.
If you don’t have an urgent need for this device, it might be worthwhile to keep your eyes peeled for promotions as retailers are bound to give it away as a freebie. Right now, you can get one for free if you buy Etiqa’s Tiq 5-year home insurance or as part of Starhub’s HomeHub bundle.
What do you think of Google Home? Share your views in the comments!