These days, there are two big players when it comes to Smart Home hubs: Amazon Echo and Google Home. Both can answer your questions, control your connected kit and help organise your life – but how do you choose between them?
With the technology coming on in leaps and bounds in recent years, there’s never been a better time to get involved with Smart Home technology – and it’s never been easier.
From your front door to your kitchen, connected kit can change your life for the better in all kinds of ways. But at the heart of the modern Smart Home is a ‘hub’: a central brain that ties it all together and acts as your personal digital assistant.
Right now, there are two serious options on the market: Amazon Echo and Google Home. Both are sleek, useful and powerful pieces of kit – but what’s the difference between them, and which is right for you?
Today, we’ll be comparing the two to help you find out.
Both Google Home and Amazon Echo are packed to the gills with knowledge, and both can take a good stab at answering most trivia or general knowledge questions.
But with Google’s vast experience cataloguing and indexing the world’s information – as well as their expertise in developing natural-language search engines – it’s perhaps not surprising that the Google Home has a slight edge in this area.
By tapping into Google’s powerful knowledge engine, Google Home can serve up insights and knowledge with incredible detail. And it’s voice-activated assistant is also a little better at remembering the current topic of conversation.
This means that if you ask “Where was Bill Murray born?” and then follow that question up with “And how old is he?”, Google Home will understand who you mean by “he”.
On the other hand, one of Amazon Echo’s major strengths is that users can expand its abilities and knowledge themselves. So while it might not have as much knowledge straight out of the box, enterprising users can pack their Echo with ‘Stranger Things Fan Facts’, ‘Rick and Morty Trivia’, ‘The hardest Games of Thrones quiz ever’ and all kinds of other user-contributed information.
While the question-answering abilities of both the Echo and Home are impressive, most people will want them to do more: connecting with your Smart Home kit and helping you organise your life.
On this front, both devices perform extremely well. Both integrate with and control all the most popular Smart Home tech, from Philips Hue lights to Nest and Hive thermostats. Effortless voice control really brings these products to life – and when it comes to ease of use, there’s not much to choose between the Home and Echo.
When it comes to integrating with your apps, to-do lists and other services you already use, though, there’s a little more to consider.
As you’d expect, Google Home integrates perfectly with Google services: so if you organise your life with Google Calendar and so forth, Google Home is an obvious choice. But in fact, Echo handles Google services almost as well – so it’s not really a deal-breaker if you prefer Amazon’s device.
On the other hand, using non-Google services on the Google Home is a little trickier. If you use Apple’s iCloud Calendar, Notes and so forth, you’ll need to import them into Google’s equivalent services before you can use them with Google Home. For many users, this will be an unnecessary hassle.
Echo, on the other hand, works out of the box with iCloud services – so for committed Apple users, it’s probably a better choice.
As well as their impressive smart features, both Google Home and Amazon Echo are, at heart, audio speakers – and so, if you plan on using them to listen to a lot of music, their sound quality matters.
The good news is, both speakers perform well here. For their size, both speakers produce clear and well-rounded sound with impressive bass. Neither should have any trouble filling a medium-sized room with music – although audiophiles will probably want something a little more powerful anyway.
If we’re splitting hairs, the Echo probably has a slight edge on Google Home as far as clarity and audio quality go, but it’s a very close call.
Audio obsessives, though, might want to consider a Sonos speaker system with Echo’s digital assistant, Alexa, built in.
As such, Echo has a slight edge on affordability, but it’s not a major difference in the big scheme of things – and we’d recommend making your decision on features, rather than price.
These do the same thing, on the whole, as as their bigger cousins – with the main trade-off being in audio quality. But if you’re not planning on listening to much music through your device, this might not matter too much.
So, which should you get? In truth, both devices are highly capable, and overlap greatly in terms of features.
If you’re already committed to Google’s services – an Android phone, Google Calendars and the like – it really comes down to personal preference. Both Google Home and Amazon Echo will serve you well.
For iOS users, Amazon Echo offers better support and less hassle out of the box – and so, that would be our recommendation.
But whichever you choose, our Team Knowhow experts are standing by to help you get to grips with your new kit – discover more about our Smart Home Set-up service to find out how.