Google found a place in my Home

Google found a place in my Home

I’ve had an Amazon Echo (Alexa) in my house for quite a while.  One of “Alexa’s” biggest disappointments is her lack of knowledge.  Often, after hearing Alexa say “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question you asked.”, I found myself turning to Google on my phone for the answer.

The Google Home is an Echo-like assistant for your home that has the knowledge base of Google behind it.  I can also control my IoT devices like WeMo, SmartThings and Philips like my Echo does. After using it since November, I feel I have a decent understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of using it vs. the Amazon Echo.

Advantages

  • Smarter – It has the power of Google Search behind it so it can answer far more questions than the Amazon Echo.  Google Assistant can be a useful tool.
  • Better Looking – Sure, it does look like an air freshener but it’s better looking than the original Amazon Echo.  You can also change the color of the Google Home if you are into that type of thing.
  • Music – It works seamlessly with Google Music, which I like better than Amazon’s alternative.  Services like Spotify and Pandora work on either unit.
  • Sound – Music sounds a lot better coming from the Google Home speaker than the original Amazon Echo.  *I also have an Echo dot.  Using the Echo dot with an external speaker is a nice feature.
  • Chromecast Support – We have 6 Chromecasts in our house.  I love that I can say:
    • Play 80’s rock music in the Living Room
    • Play Justin Timberlake music upstairs
    • Play Studio C videos on the Family Room TV

Disadvantages

  • It’s younger than Amazon Echo.  Since the Echo has been around longer there are far more devices and partners that work with it.  They both are adding new features all the time but since the Echo had a head start, it had the advantage.
  • Ordering product.  There’s something really nice about saying “Alexa, order more AA batteries” when you are running low that makes the Echo very nice.  Amazon has a great advantage here.

Overall, I really like the Google Home.  Unless you want the ability to order directly from Amazon with your internet connected assistant, I would suggest the Google Home over the Alexa.  For now, both devices have a place in my home.

WeMo Light Switch by Belkin

WeMo Light Switch by Belkin

372About 6 months ago, I installed WeMo light switches in my house.  These switches allow you to control your lights a number of new ways:

  • Using your Smartphone
  • Set to a Timer
  • Using your Computer
  • Using your Voice with help by the Amazon Echo or other service
  • Old fashion way using your finger on the switch

For the most part, they work great.  They connect to your home network through your Wifi connection. There are multiple types of WeMo devices.  There are light switches, or simple plugs where you can plug in lights, fans or other electronics.  They even have a device that allows you to track your energy use real time on your smartphone.  If you want to know when your laundry cycle is over, you can have the app notify you.

Installation

372-1I installed the switches myself (although if you are not comfortable working with electricity, you should hire an electrician to do it for you).  I turned off the electricity at the breaker, removed my old light switch using a screwdriver and installed the new switch using the easy to follow diagram included in the packaging.  Then, I turned on the breaker and connected the switch to the Wifi using the WeMo app as a guide.

Use

We used the WeMo app to program one of our lights to a timer, turning on at sunset and back on at sunrise.  Using our Amazon Echo with our lights is fun.  We can say, “Alexa, turn on the dining room lights” or at night we can say “Alexa, turn off all the lights downstairs”.  This Christmas, we plan to use our WeMo devices to control our Christmas lights, both outside and on our tree.

Price

The prices usually range from $35-50 per device depending on which version that you get.  It would be pretty expensive to replace your whole house at once so starting with 1 or 2 and then purchasing more as time goes by can be a smart idea.  I purchased mine through Amazon.

 

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