Google have never been very good at hardware, having had a vast range of Nexus device since forever, none of them have ever really taken off, though that’s something Google are hoping to change with their hardware event today, however we still think they’re dreaming based on what we’ve seen, which we’ll get to now.
Google Pixel Phone
As always the Pixel phone leaked before it’s announcement and unfortunately is exactly as it looked when it leaked on both Verizon US, which unfortunately it will be exclusive to in America, as well as Carphone Warehouse which will be one of the many places it will be available in the UK.
Unfortunately for us all, with the leaks being correct, we now know just how un-excited the world is going to be by the Google Pixel. Whilst Google tout the device for its best in class Camera, built in Google Assistant for essentially Google Now on Tap, it’s just another Stock Android device, be it running 7.1 Nougat, running a launcher which is actually available online today.
In terms of what the device, or devices have to offer, you’ve two offerings the Pixel and the Pixel XL, the first is a 5 inch 1080p version and naturally the XL has a larger display at 5.5 inch Quad HD, both are AMOLED panels.
The design however is typical Google, meaning it’s terrible. The design is not only dull, but it’s also uninspiring and it almost looks like a cheap plastic attempt at making an iPhone 5S, especially in the white colour. If Google wanted to get us excited about their new Phones, well they could at least of built some good ones.
Positives about the device include the latest and greatest internals meaning the new SnapDragon 821 (offering around a 15% improvement over 820, though better power efficient for the small performance increase), 4GB of RAM and this little known thing called a headphone jack. That power efficiency will also be helped by the devices inclusion of Quick Charge support through the USB-C port.
The Camera is a 12 megapixel unit, supporting 4K resolution video and HDR+ imagery by default. Google were proud of it’s highest rating ever on DXOMark Mobile, a ranking quite frankly no one had ever heard of, at 89. For those keeping track of that, Sony Xperia X Performance (and XZ), Galaxy S7 (and Note 7) and HTC 10 share the rather same 88, and the iPhone 7 was at 84. Personally, we wouldn’t hold too much confidence in theses tests mainly as the X Performance is a terrible Camera phone so don’t hold that too closely as an important benchmark. But the specs at least are there.
The biggest stupid decision with the Pixel is clearly the price. If you were expecting the successor to the Nexus to be the same value for money device, you are not only going to be disappointed, you’re going to be screaming WHY? Just look at this god-awful prices for the Pixel devices in USD (international prices tba);
$649 – 32GB Pixel
$749 – 128GB Pixel
$769 – 32GB Pixel XL
$879 – 128GB Pixel XL
With those prices, and that terrible design with questionable colour naming, this is about as disappointing at the Amazon Fire Phone, and we expect the same fate.
In hope to somehow defend the terrible price, Google will be offering completely unlimited storage on Google Photos of full resolution Photos and Videos for Pixel owners as well as an inclusive 6 months of YouTube Red.
If you’re crazy and want a Google Pixel, you can find out more about it here on Google’s website. Information will soon arrive on websites such as Carphone Warehouse and EE in the UK, and the exclusive Carrier Verizon in the US.
Google Daydream View
Google spoke about Daydream back at Google I/O 2016, and here is Google’s take on AR with their own VR headset, the Daydream View. As mentioned at Google I/O, Daydream View will support any Daydream device, which also have a base set of specifications and compatible devices, though at the moment that is limited to the Google Pixel Phones.
Google’s Daydream View is built out of fabric materials to be as comfortable as possible, and will even work well with those users of eye-glasses, which is nice to see and a rarity on VR headsets.
The Daydream View has a Controller, which basically looks the same as an Apple TV remote, though must be very slippy as the guy on stage dropped it, though naturally it was fine.
Probably the most exciting news surrounding Daydream View is the price, the Daydream View will launch in November for just $79 … sure at the moment you’ve to buy that over-priced Pixel phone, but for a VR headset thats a good price.
Google launched their OnHub Router last year, and this year is it’s successor, branded simply Google WiFi. Whereas the OnHub Router was made by TP-Link, Google have built the Google WiFi device though it does work more or less the same way. You can a single base hub, as shown above, and the option to purchase additional ones for additional signal. An application for Android, and soon iOS, will again be able to be used to set-up and control your connections around your home.
Pre-order November, Available December for $129 single, or a 3 pack bundle for $299.
Having sold over 30 million Chromecast devices, Google announced the latest version of Chromecast, the Chromecast Ultra. Whilst it may cost a bit more at now $69, once this device becomes available in November you’ve a collection of improvements that will make this most definitely worth it.
Chromecast Ultra can now cast 4K UHD resolution content, and also supports HDR and Adobe Vision. 4K support at launch will come from YouTube, as well as Google Play Movies, which will be launching 4K content in November coinciding with the Chromecast Ultra launch. Updates to the existing Cast content is expected to support the higher resolution as well.
Chromecast Ultra is much faster than the previous Chromecast as well, taking 1.8x faster to launch, and if you’re not either 100% ready for the Wireless world or prefer a direct connection, Ethernet is also supported. Just like regular Chromecast, the Chromecast Ultra will connect via the HDMI port of your TV/Monitor and supports both Android and iOS.
This event isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Google Home, it was after all shown off at this years I/O, though after looking more in to the device, and as Google tried to sell it to everyone, the more it just looks like an Amazon Echo, made by Google.
Problem with that is, not only is having a device such as the Home or Echo around the house still a rather pointless feat at the moment, the Echo is cheaper and looks better than the Google Home.
Google spent a lot of time during their Event discussing how the ‘Google Assistant’ makes everything better, however we’re yet to see any evidence to support that claim. Sure, we expect the Google Home will hear an “OK Google” command better than the Echo will hear you, but in terms of features, it’s a hard sell this one.
The Google Home will be available in these 7 options including the default, and 6 options to choose from, which really don’t improve the device much in our opinion.
One feature we do welcome on the Google Home is a Mute button to stop the device from listening to you for the “OK Google” command, which should help those privacy conscious types though they’ll still likely just unplug it, or better yet not buy one. The top of the device is also capacitive, meaning you can adjust volume or pause content easily.
Should the $129 price tag for one of them seem somehow cheap, you can pair multiple Google Home devices to work together to play joint or separate audio, as well as control Chromecast devices as well as Cast using them should they share the same Google Account set up.
The Google Home will go on sale on November 4th and too will include the 6 month trial of YouTube Red, which includes YouTube Music or Play Music support which can be outputted through Google Home. Should you still prefer alternate services like Spotify, they will be supported too.
And there you have it, the madebygoogle Event. To say we’re disappointed by this Event is the understatement of the year, Google’s SVP of Android, Chrome OS and Play made the event sound like the start of something big or exciting…
We announced the 1st version of Android 8 years ago today. I have a feeling 8 years from now we’ll be talking about Oct 4, 2016.
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) September 24, 2016
…we don’t know if he was talking about something which got cancelled, but let us tell you, Google announced nothing that we will be talking about in A YEAR, never mind 8 years, which is such a shame.