1 (edited by Orko 2018-04-04 12:24:29)

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.

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2

nice post and congratz on your new speaker.
btw I read in some review, that i can't find out right now, is that google home max comes with one year of free youtube music? or youtube red, I don't know what the exact name is. Is it also the case with your max purchase?

John Petrucci Fan all the time.
twitter: @hadirezae3
skype ID: hadi.gsf7

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3

I've had my Google Home now for about 6 months or so, and I'm pretty happy with it. Not that Amazon isn't doing great work when it comes to smart speakers, but Google and its line of smart speakers is underrated in my opinion. I really haven't had any problems with the device, and it's always fun just to explore what services are constantly added to it. Exploring the development platform for the Google Assistant has been fascinating, and it's pretty cool how easy it is to create a service that can be accessed by anyone with a device supporting the Assistant.

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. - Mark Twain

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4

Congrats on the max. I'm eagerly waiting for it to come out in Canada... and the free account and paid accounts have the same amount of music. You will simply get ads, lower audio quality, and probably some other thngs if you stick with a free account. You can also link to spotify, which I've done on the home mini I have, so I can simply play off spotify premium as I don't use google play music.

regards,
assault_freak

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5

For the Google Play account you also get Youtube Red as well. I think its like $12 a month that I'm paying for it. Google Home also works with Spotify and Pandora. I'm loving my Google Home too! You can ask it to play podcasts news from all sorts of sources. BBC, Sky News, ABC, Fox etc. It works with Pizza Hut now and so much more!

Kingdom of Loathing name JB77

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6

Wish I have money to buy this sort of stuff. Sounds really cool.

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7

Nice deal on the Google Home bundle! Regarding the usb-c jack, that can actually be used for a usb-c to ethernet converter. To be honest, you should really only need to wire the home up to ethernet if your wireless latency is really that bad, or it starts buffering. That being said, the restrictions with a free account are that you can't play  any album on command unless it's one you own, but you can play radio playlists that are, generally speaking, free of ads. You should get a 12month all access pass with the purchase of your max though, which includes all-access for google play music, as well as ad-free youtube. And with your unlimited music subscription, typically as long as it's in google play's library, you can stream it on unlimited. The service I believe is still at 10bucks a month. I think you missed the opportunity to get a free audiobook, but they might still have the 50% off your first audiobook deal.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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8

Hey Google. Good morning
Is the first thing that I say to it every morning
And it greets me & tells me the weather & the morning news & sports news

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9 (edited by Orko 2018-04-04 12:46:24)

First of all after reviewing my opening message, I found an error and fixed it, it was, that connecting to your online Google account is the step that most of Google Home's features depend on, not Voice Match as I had indicated.

I also found the purpose for the USB and 3.5 mm audio connectors and added them. As someone else has noted, the USB connector is so you can connect a USB to Ethernet adaptor, and the audio jack is so you can add a second speaker to get full stereo sound.

Unfortunately, those free accounts were apparently promotions that are now over as there was no information about them included, nor did the Max automatically connect to them as it did the free Google Music account. Oh well, at least I got a free Google Home Mini.

sirpdex, LOL! my Max heard your message with the Hey Google in it and sang some humorous version of happy birthday.

I've heard a lot about Spotify and Pandora. I don't know much about either one, but I may have to learn because if I decide to pay for a music account, I'll want to compare them to Google Music, before I buy in Google Music, it might turn out that one of the other two is a better fit for me.

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10

Contact google and ask them about your 12month youtube promotion. It's possible they could've missed it or had some policy for buying it from a reseller other than google, but I guess it doesn't hurt to ask.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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11 (edited by hadi.gsf 2018-04-04 13:25:46)

just get spotify. forget bout google music and pandora
There is absolutely no reason to choose pandora over spotify, as spotify's library of songs is 20-30 times bigger than pandora.
and as for google music, I really don't know about its features, but if there's a certain feature that interests you that spotify doesn't have, then consider it. otherwise, spotify has the best music library, A good music matching algorithm, and you'll have a lot of fun with the community playlists, and the weekly playlist that spotify generates for you based on the music you played for yourself.
Another fact to consider is the genre of music you listen to.
If you listen to rock / or metal, Spotify is your only best bet, As all the rock/metal production companies start with spotify when releasing their new song. I say this from my own experience, as i'm a progressive metal fan and all the new songs will be on spotify the minute they get released.

update: apparently at the end of 2017 pandora tried to catch up to spotify and signed a huge amount of labels, therefore  my saying that spotify has 20 times songs as pandora is false.
See this link for more info: https://www.digitaltrends.com/music/spotify-vs-pandora/

John Petrucci Fan all the time.
twitter: @hadirezae3
skype ID: hadi.gsf7

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12 (edited by Orko 2018-04-04 14:58:08)

Oh! I almost forgot! In the box with the Max is a round magnetic rubber pad, this is the Max's foot, you stick this on either the Max's bottom, or right side if you want the Max more vertical than horizontal, then set the Max on it. Being made of rubber has two benefits as I see it, one, the Max won't slide around, and two, the rubber will dampen vibrations preventing them from being transmitted to what ever the Max is sitting on.

The music I listen to most is classical, and sometimes I'll listen to easy listening, which is basically popular music that is not aggressive or wild.

When I do specifically sit down to just listen to music, what I listen to most are the top 100 hits from the 70s, my growing up years, and the 80s, young adult years. After the 80s, music started changing in a way that I didn't like, so I sort of lost interest and just enjoyed the music I grew up with by listening to oldies stations, though there were some artists, like Elton John, that still produced music I liked, that turned me on to easy listening stations.

For music accounts, I'll have to compare them, their features, how much music is available, and cost. Acording to Google, a Google Music account has something like 440,000,000 individual available tracks, that's a lot of music!

One thing I'd really like to see is either the ability to plug in something like a micro HD memory card with your music library on it, or an online service where you could upload your library, then connect your assistant to it, then it could use that or the memory card as one of your music accounts.

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13

They wouldn't let you do that, the same reason they don't allow yu to stream your own music library to them directly. Google wants you to buy into one of its services, and even with spotify they wouldn't let you link it unless they get something back from it. They're trying to phase out people using their old music libraries and just use streaming, so unfortunately things like you mentioned probably won't happen for a while, if at all.

regards,
assault_freak

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14 (edited by Orko 2018-04-04 19:12:32)

I know what you mean about phasing out music libraries. Amazon allows you to upload up to 250 tracks from your music library for the Echo to stream as part of your Prime membership, and for $25 a year you could expand that to 250,000, or some huge number, of tracks, but as of April 30th, they are discontinuing both the free and paid music storage services.

Man! Google is missing out on a bet here! If you want full stereo sound from your Home Max, you can pair it with a second speaker to have separate left and right channels. With that in mind you'd think they'd be selling a matching companion speaker for the Max, but so far I've found nothing. If I am going to set up separate left and right channel speakers, I'd want them to be matching for some symmetry.

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15

Another money ploy, so if you want separate stereo channels you have to get two maxes apparently. I thought that 3.5 mm jack was an aux input, not a speaker output.

regards,
assault_freak

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16

So, my mother got the dot, but if you are saying the mini is that good, I will convince her to buy one too to have 2 assistants in the house, cause I can not get the google assistant on the phone to work.

I am your friend, your spam bot reporter, I am what ever do you wan a be to you, but if it is not good, I will not be!
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Thanks.
Angel Productions, the producer of nothing :)

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17

Google play does actually allow you to upload up to I think 50000 songs to your account if you have a play music subscription, which you got 12 months for free with the home max. I'm not sure how you do this but if you look on-line it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. In any case if there are missing tracks which you bought elsewhere, you should be able to fill the gaps in Google's catalog easily enough.

Needing 2 identical speakers for stereo pairing isn't really too unusual, it makes sense from a physics point of view. If you'd have a large and a smaller speaker playing the left and right channels of a song that makes a lot of use from stereo separation, it would sound completely wrong with one side overpowering the other. Every company that lets you make a stereo pair from 2 wireless speakers (Google, Amazon, Sonos, JBL, Bose) all only let you do it with 2 identical speakers. That being said, as far as I know every Google home is stereo. Because the left and right speakers are in one unit you probably have to be sitting in front of it at a very particular point to even notice it, and the stereo image won't be as wide as having 2 separate units. But you should still notice a bit of stereo separation. Try playing something like Money by Pink Floid which makes for a good test.

The audio jack on the Home max is Line-in. It's the only Google home that has one. It allows you to connect older analog sources to it, like your computer or TV for example. All the other stuff like Stereo Pairing is probably all done wirelessly

The twins of Mammon quarrelled. Their warring plunged the world into a new darkness, and the beast abhorred the darkness. So it began to move swiftly, and grew more powerful, and went forth and multiplied. And the beasts brought fire and light to the darkness. - from The Book of Mozilla, 15:1

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18 (edited by Orko 2018-04-04 21:31:31)

Maybe so, I was just curious, so I looked. The set up I have has no room for a second speaker, so it's not like I was looking for one to buy, and even if I was looking to buy, I'm not buying another Max just to be a speaker, that's just plain crazy.

I am guessing about the 3.5 mm jack on the back, but I've never heard of any version of these assistants that could be used as a speaker for another device, so I assume it's an audio out, but I could be wrong.

I do notice that besides the 3.5 mm jack, you can also connect speakers via Bluetooth or chromecast.

I am new to this thing and Google documentation isn't exactly the greatest.

I'll have to look online for information about this free year of Google Play music because there was absolutely no imformation included with the Max.

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19

IF you read the post just above yours, pitermach confirms that it's a line in, not out. And if you wanted a second stereo speaker for a stereo pair, it wouldn't be just for being a speaker. The two units would essentially dvide the audio between them, so they'd become complimentary halves of the same thing. So in this case, the idea of buying one extra speaker just for being a speaker isn't entirely right. And again as pitermach said, you probably wouldn't be able to do it with anything but another max anyway. But I could and will probably do the same with two sonos 1's... if the home doesn't come out in Canada soon and if sonos does indeed plan to launch Google Assistant, since there's little to no information about when that is coming.

regards,
assault_freak

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20 (edited by Orko 2018-04-05 04:29:51)

Why are people being so argumentative these past few days? The unfriendliness is enough to make one decide to quit this community for one that is a whole lot friendlier.

Really? I thought that saying "I think" or "I thought" as pitermach did means that you aren't certain.

Now that I've had the Max for two days and am using it as a rather expensive radio while I learn more about it's capabilities, pretty much the same way I got started with the Amazon Echo, I've noticed a couple of things, subtly different, but nice, about the Max compared to the Echos.

The first is speed, the Max responds to my requests almost instantly while there is always a pause for several seconds for processing before Alexa responds.

The second is the response itself, on the Max the response is always bright and cheerful compared to Alexa's rather dry and matter of fact responses. Personally I like the Max's response style better than Alexa's.

Apparently the year of free Google Play Music with a purchase of Google Home Max was an introductory promotion that has now expired. No matter, at least I got a free Google Home Mini with the Max.

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21 (edited by jack 2018-04-05 04:29:26)

I actually do remember hearing something about the aux jack being line-in. Needless to say, I'd try connecting the trek to it and see if it plays. On a somewhat related note, I will say that my Trek will not connect to my google home mini when it's in Bluetooth mode, so I wouldn't get your hopes up as far as being able to listen to it through the max. Hey Google, activate Bluetooth. That will activate the speaker's pairing mode so you can use the home as a bluetooth speaker. You might not get smart-sound with this approach, but at least you'll be able to play your own music library. By the way, did you check the offers section of the google home app? If there's anything about 12months of all-access, it would definitely be in there.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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22

I certainly wasn't trying to be argumentative. Just pointing out what I've heard that differs from the information you seem to have... I simply went off Pitermach's post, as well as all the other articles I've read. 3.5 MM jacks on the backs of speakers are usually aux ins, not outs. Mostly, anyway, probably with exceptions that I don't know of... as most stereo pairing of speakers is done wirelessly, and in a very specific way as to be able to recreate the proper stereo image.

The Google Assistant is the more conversational of the two, by far. Your commands don't have to be word for word accurate either, unlike Alexa, which is awesome. Much more fun, not to mention easier, to be able to just tel the assistant to do things using an easier and more natural syntax.

Jack, like Orco said in post 20, the promoton is onger htere, as that was an introductory thing.

regards,
assault_freak

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23

@Orko you wouldn't need an SD card if you have songs on your phone you can just play them on Google Home with bluetooth. Works with iPod touch and other devices with bluetooth.

Kingdom of Loathing name JB77

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24

If you can afford it, you should buy another google home max in the future to pare it with your existing one to have a nice stereo separation. , this is what google wants you to do. and I'm not sure if you can do anything else besides buying  chromecast  speakers to pare it with your home max.

Now, I don't know about google home mini, but with amazon echo dot you are able to connect it to other speakers that you already own to have a stereo system.
And for sonos you have no choice, You have to buy  more sonos products down the line to  complete your sound system.

John Petrucci Fan all the time.
twitter: @hadirezae3
skype ID: hadi.gsf7

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25

Hi there.
Just curious, what is the layout of the google home mini?
I know only it is a donut, but I do not know alot of other things about it.

I am your friend, your spam bot reporter, I am what ever do you wan a be to you, but if it is not good, I will not be!
And please, give me a tumbsup, it makes me happy to see one.
Thanks.
Angel Productions, the producer of nothing :)

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