Google Nest: Good sound, great price

When Google announced the Google Home speaker in 2016, I was excited and wanted to get one. Unfortunately, the product wasn’t available in Singapore then.

During my next trip to the US in 2017, I stayed in San Jose and scouted for the nearest outlet selling the device. I was so delighted to find it at a nearby Walmart and bought two — one to give as a gift.

From then on, it’s a love affair that has expanded to the Google Home Mini, which I installed in another room. The smart speakers produce acceptable sound quality (for my ears) and are so easy to set up.

The introduction of Google Nest Audio this year got me all worked up again. But, this time, I need not (and could not anyway) fly to the US to get my fix. My discerning daughter gifted me one as soon as it was available.

It doesn’t look like the first two iterations but everything else was so intuitive.

After more than a month with the Google Nest, here are my thoughts:

  1. Easy setup. One of the biggest frustrations of getting a new device is the setting up. But, Google has made it so easy that my Nest was up and running in a minute.
  2. Good sound. Under its larger form factor are a pair of speakers that produce good sounds. The Google Nest Audio sports a 75mm woofer and a 19mm tweeter, which delivers more oomph compared to the sole 50mm speaker on the first Home.
  3. Inconspicuous look. Some may say that the design looks too simple but I feel that it is just what a speaker should look like. Speakers are meant to be heard, not seen, so the simple look can fit in anywhere without drawing attention.
  4. Privacy mode. With so much concern over whether wireless speakers are recording conversations, Google has added a microphone switch to turn it off when greater privacy is desired.
  5. Great price. At S$139, the price in Singapore is similar to the US pricing. Plus, local shipping is free so there’s no need to pay for overseas shipping and that long wait.

The Google Nest Audio can be paired with another to provide a stereo effect. I only have one so cannot comment on how good that would be. But my imagination tells me that if one is already good, two would make the audio experience much better. If you like, you can get the Google Nest Audio from Google Singapore.

Verdict

Price: πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Performance: πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Wonderboom: Small body, big sound

Wonderboom

How many speakers does a person need? How about one more? With a couple of Google Home speakers in my home, I wasn’t really in need of another speaker but the Wonderboom changed my mind.

Yes, it doesn’t have the smart capabilities of a Google Home. It can’t receive verbal instructions.

But, it’s sound does pack a punch and it is another great travelling companion. I can picture streaming music from my smartphone to it in my hotel room. With it’s 360-degree sound, it will fill the room with my favourite music nicely, especially in hotels where the TV channels are much to be desired.

Best of all, it can also be used safely in the bathroom and outdoors as it is waterproof and floats!

Here are five things that I like about the speaker (all in numbers):

  1. 360-degree sound: Great for listening wherever it’s placed.
  2. 1-metre under water: Chances of me using this outdoor are slim BUT should I want to bring it to the beach or by the swimming pool, I need not worry about the weather or dropping it into the water.
  3. 10-hour battery life: That’s enough juice for an entire day out without recharging, which incidentally takes about three hours to fully recharge.
  4. 33-metre range: It can stream music from your mobile device all the way across the house.
  5. 2 are better than one: If one Wonderboom is not enough, pair it with another and you’ll get stereo sound.

The Wonderboom scores for its portability, ruggedness and sound. Officially listed at S$149, it can be had for S$89 at Shopee.

Mini but mighty

Google Home Mini.jpgHaving used and enjoyed the Google Home for several months, I was intrigued when the mini version of the smart speaker was announced last October.

As usual, this product, like many others from Google, is not available in our part of the world.

But, thanks to online sites such as eBay and Qoo10.sg, getting one is not impossible but a little costlier, with shipping cost factored in.

I saw the device on offer in a major IT shop in Japan in December but could not buy it because it’s only available for pre-order.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to receive one as a Christmas present.

The Google Home Mini is similar to its bigger sibling, the Google Home, except for it’s size and quality of speaker.

Powered by Google Assistant, it is easy to set up and use. Volume can be adjusted by tapping the left and right of the speaker cover.

Here are five reasons why I like the Google Home Mini:

  1. Small footprint and size: You can place it practically anywhere — on the table, book shelf, TV console and anywhere convenient.
  2. Easy setup: Just use the Google Home app on the phone to set up. It takes only a minute or two.
  3. Sensitive pickup: The speaker is a great listener and can pick up commands even in almost whisper-mode across the room.
  4. Good sound quality: While the sound is not as rich as the Google Home, the speaker packs quite a punch and can be heard anywhere in an enclosed room.
  5. Great price: It’s less than half the price of its larger sibling and can do similar stuff.

I only have one peeve — a Spotify Premium account is needed to play music. The free version of Spotify will only yield a station playing the requested song — and the song may not even be played!

Verdict: Aside from needing a Spotify Premium account, it’s a lovely device that I’d gladly recommend to those wanting to try out a smart speaker.

You can get it at Google Store or other online sites. Don’t try Amazon as a search for this product only yielded the Amazon equivalent.