As noted in another thread, I have pretty much given up on Alexa and the Amazon Echo. The Echo hardware was fine, it looked good, had good sound, and worked well, but the Alexa service had many problems that weren't being fixed, and had terrible voice recognition or interpretation. So,, since I had heard a lot of good reviews of it, I decided to switch to the Google Home assistant, only I decided to go whole hog and get the Google Home Max. The offer of a free Google Home Mini helped me make that decision, it can go in the bedroom.
Anyway, it arrived today in a rather big box, Best Buy did a good job packing it so that it would arrive undamaged. The box for the Max was big compared to the box the Echo came in, but then the Max is kind of big itself, and heavy.
The Max basically looks like a speaker, it's not round like the Echos or the Google Home, it's basically a box 13.5 inches wide, 7.5 inches tall, 6.5 inches deep, and weighs about 13 pounds. For power it has just a simple power cord, not an adaptor like the Echo used.
For controls, I called Aira and they helped me explore all the controls and connections. First off, there are no controls in front or on the sides. The only control on top is a silver bar. The center of the bar is a play/stop button. There is actually no physical button, the bar is touch sensitive, and the center area is the play/stop. To lower the volume, you just slide your finger on the bar from right to left, to raise the volume, slide your finger left to right. On the back, there are only two controls, a tiny little reset button that is so stiff, you have to push it with a finger nail, and a switch, not a button, to turn off the microphone. The nice thing about the switch versus a button is, that by its position you know whether the microphone is off or on. Not only that, when you flip the switch, the Google Home tells you whether you just switched the microphone on or off. For connections, it has three, one is for the power cord, another is a USB-C connector, and the third is a 3.5 mm stereo audio out jack. The USB port is so a USB to ethernet adaptor can be connected, sounds to me like some used during manufacturing. The audio out jack is so you can add a second speaker to the Max to get full stereo sound.
Set up itself was pretty easy. Just put it on top of the bookshelf in the living room and plug it in. In about a minute, just like the Echo, it announced itself. Next I downloaded the Google Home app to my iPhone and proceeded with initial set up, which was very similar to the Echo's initial set up except that the Google Home app was fully accessible with Voice Over with none of the accessibility problems the Amazon Alexa app had, so going through all the steps was a sinch. For this initial run through I just did the basic set up of connecting it to my WiFi and entering my address so it would have its location for things like weather.
The next step was to connect the Google Home to my online Google account so it has access to all the data there, you are warned that most of Google Home's features depend on this access to your data.
The last set up step I did, for now, was to go through the Voice Match set up. Voice Match allows Google Home to create a profile of each person in your house, which it identifies using their voice, this allows it to learn about them so it can be more useful to them. I'm not yet sure how I feel about this obvious data gathering, but I already trust Google with a lot of information, so.
At this point I decided to do any additional set up over time as needed and start using it. Even though I've done very little with it, I already like it better than the Echo. To get the Echo to stream a radio station, you have to tell it to play something from Tune In, like this, "Alexa, play WSMR from Tune In", But with Google Home all you do is say, "Hey Google, play WSMR", and off you go.
When you asked the Echo to play a radio station, it searched Tune In's entire worldwide database, so if it misunderstood you, which happens often enough, heaven only knows where the radio station you'll get is from. But with Google Home, if you don't give a location, it restricts it's search to your local radio stations, so I could have said, "Hey Google, play 89.1", I would have gotten WSMR, because it does a worldwide search, you simply can't play radio stations by frequency with an Echo. If I wanted to listen to a radio station somewhere else, "Hey Google, play 105.9 in Chicago" and it would play the FM simulcast of WBBM 780 news radio out of Chicago. All without ever telling it to play from Tune In.
I haven't explored it yet to see what's available, but Google Home automatically links to a free Google Music account, so I could stream music from that. I'll have to see if I can find out how many songs are included in the free account versus a paid account and how many songs are in the paid account, and what a paid account costs. I frequently liked to tell the Echo to play music from one artist or another and I'm hoping the Google and the free Google Music account can do the same, if not, I may consider a paid account if it doesn't cost too much and has a reasonable amount of music in it. One of the things I didn't like about Amazon was, for it's name, the Amazon Music Unlimited paid account was pretty limited in what music it included.
I haven't done it yet but apparently if you store a credit or debit card with Google, you can use Google Home to do online shopping, or order food, or a ride, just like you can order things from Amazon with the Echos.
Well, that's all for now. As I dig deeper into the world of Google Home, I'll be back to tell you more. But for now I think I made a good choice quitting the Echo for Google Home.