It’s that time of year again, one year since the very first, the madebygoogle Event is here, and Google had a collection of products announced at the Event. Whilst most really only cared about the Pixel smartphones, Google had a collection of additions to that list.
So, before we get to the Google Pixel, let’s have a look at what Google did announce;
Google kicked off the keynote with a number of announcements surrounding Google Home. Should you have a Google Home, or be interested in one, one of the more interesting features was completely free hand-free calling to any Phone number, a service which Google will now be bringing to the UK!
But, their was also a pair of Google Home devices which were announced, as follows;
Google Home Mini
As expected, Google are bringing the Google Home experience to a more affordable market, £49 to be precise. The same feature set available on the larger Google Home, and naturally the same Google Assistant. Despite it’s small and compact size, Google promise that the speaker will be more than ample. Plus, based on hands on experience, it does seem slightly better than the Amazon Echo.
Google Home Mini is available for pre-order now, and will retail for £49, with an October 19th release.
Google Home Max
Whilst Google Home got smaller with the Mini, it also got bigger with this, the Google Home Max. As Apple prepares to announce the HomePod, a device which literally only had Audio quality above the rest, it’s clear that both Amazon and now Google are having none of it. The Google Home Max is the Google Home device you will want for Audio quality.
Now that Google Home can access, not only Play Music or Spotify, but any Chromecast Audio setup, you know this is going to be great for experiencing Audio. The Chromecast Max features dual 4.5″ woofers and dual tweeters, and as Google claims, it’s built for Audio, apparently 20x quality and volume from traditional Google Home. The Chromecast Max can also be used either as shown, or in a portrait fashion, and will pair with others.
With a technology Google call Smart Sound, the Google Home Max will use AI to tune the speaker based on its surroundings all to deliver the best Audio experience possible, again, just like the HomePod. Google Home Max also features an AUX in connection, so you will be able to connect any device and use it as a Speaker should you wish to.
One thing Google Home Max won’t be, is cheap, coming in at a $399, though will not be available until December … again, just like HomePod, hmm.
Touted as a powerful and premium Chromebook, you know the Google Pixelbook isn’t going to be for everyone straight away. Regardless, for those who previously used the Chromebook Pixel, you’ll feel right at home with the Pixelbook, but Google have gone all Lenovo on us with the form factor.
Big question naturally on your mind, who would actually want a premium Chromebook, and what can you do? Well, for starters you can at least use the collection of Apps available on the Android platform through Google Play, though naturally we’re wary on how they will run and perform on what essentially is a Touch-Screen Laptop.
With the latest Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, if you need them, 512GB SSD and more, you’re definitely getting a decent spec Ultrabook, though time will tell whether the actually usable experience is the same. The Google Assistant built in, will allow for access to Google’s AI throughout the Chrome OS operating system, though based on Siri on macOS and Cortana on Windows 10, we expect this will be used about once by the majority of people.
An optional Pixel Pen will be available, which Google claim is the best Wacom stylus ever, with 10ms of latency, 2000+ pressure sensitive and a 60 degree angular awareness.
One feature we are a fan of is a leap out of Apple’s Continuity book, with Instant Tethering. Should you find yourself without WiFi, but your Smartphone is nearby, the Pixebook will instantly allow Tethering from your Smartphone.
Google Pixelbook will be rather expensive, though you knew that already, priced at $999, but if you fancy that Pixel Pen, that’s an addition $99, and will be available end of this month, October 31st, in the US, UK and Canada.
Google Pixel 2
First up is the base model, though it’s important to mention all will have equal specs, the Pixel 2. Just like last years Pixel, the Pixel 2 has a 5 inch Full-HD OLED display with an insane 1000×1 contrast ratio, which is definitely not a bad thing and pretty much guarantees the buttery fluidity of Android software on the device, and do we need to remind you that contrast ratio, those blacks are going to be black.
Featuring the latest from Qualcomm in the Snapdragon 835 and running the latest Android Oreo out of the box and with an updated version of the Pixel launcher, which for the moment is taking it’s time to grow on us, and we had no problems with the current one.
All Pixel devices feature an always-on display, and a new Now Playing feature taking advantage of this by automatically detecting any song playing in the background. Whilst we understand this is convenient, for data usage I’d like to be able to turn it off.
Whilst the RAM enthusiasts maybe turned back at the 4GB of RAM, remember this is a clean stock Android install, and with Oreos improved memory management, we doubt they’ll be any issues with that whatsoever. The Cameras are unconfirmed at the moment, though based on the original Pixel, we’re expecting the same class of wizardry to deliver what will be an exceptional Camera once again.
Our favourite addition of the Pixel line this year, has to be, dual front-facing speakers. The original Pixel line had the tiniest of slit at the bottom which was easily blockable with it’s barely excusable speaker, this time it’s dual speakers and they’re in the right place! Yes! One thing you won’t find however is a headphone jack, though an adapter is included, but still. This has allowed the Google Pixel 2 family to finally feature water and dust resistance, at IP67.
One thing you won’t see in the Pixel 2 naturally is any of that reduced bezel behaviour many manufactures have adopted, but we’re less inclined to be that bothered. Plus, aside from the obsessed geeks out there, the majority of consumers don’t actually care, and you can’t deny the Pixel 2 looks fantastic and will run fantastic. We’re also thankful that the front is actual black, not the Quite Black from before, that way the OLED display can truly shine when it comes to the deepest blacks. The dual-tone back also stays on the design front, which we think is very nice, and we honestly can’t wait to see this thing in person!
The Google Pixel 2 family feature a 12MP Camera this time with actual OIS, but how good is the Camera. Well, turns out it’s pretty incredibly good. Last year the Google Pixel had an industry leading DxOMark score of 89, now we’re at 98, which beats every Smartphone including what were the best devices, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8/X devices.
The Google Pixel 2 Cameras also allow for a Portrait Mode on both the Rear and Front Camera, despite only having a single sensor, using AI and more to perfect the image. So, basically the Pixel 2 Camera has beaten the iPhone 8/X in quality and now in terms of Portrait mode. Pretty darn impressive.
This is the Pixel you’re going to see the majority eyeing, this is the Pixel 2 XL. Like last years XL model, as you’d expect, this one is the larger variant and comes in either a white/silver backing, or a full-on black colour. We’re actually a big fan of the dual-tone design on the XL, especially the white/silver and black look of that variant, but expect we’re going all in on the black, it’s that orange button which puts us off for us.
Whilst the Pixel 2 keeps the same display size of 5 inch, the Pixel 2 XL increases in size, from the 5.5 inch of last year to a now 6 inch P-OLED panel with 536PPI, which as you can see supports the reduced bezel ethos Smartphones have adopted, and honestly just looks stunning!
One thing we’re really happy to see, is that despite the increase in display size and the reduction in bezels, the dual front-facing speakers have also made it to the Pixel 2 XL, which alone sells this device to us against all reduced bezel Android devices from the likes of Samsung and, ironically, LG, who build this version, compared to HTC who still build the smaller Pixel 2.
Spec wise outside of the display, which is a QHD+ unit with the 18:9 aspect ratio, the Pixel 2 XL will share the specs of the smaller variant, the same Snapdragon 835, same industry leading Camera and more.
Google also announced a few accessories for the Google Pixel, which are expecting to come later this year. Theses are Google’s equivalent of Apple’s AirPods, and are priced as so at $159, but they do have a few tricks up their sleeves.
One of the best experiences in the Pixel Buds is on the fly translation, which was demoed incredibly reliably and certainly was impressive to us, this of course is thanks to the built in Google Assistant. What we want to know, naturally, is the quality, but guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Price and availability of Pixel 2
We’re happy to report that the Google Pixel 2 line won’t break the bank half as much as was previously expected, though will still cost a pretty penny if you want the best of the best. For us UK folks, there’s a rare occasion where the number is less than the equivalent in dollars, which is a nice change for once.
Both Google Pixel 2 models will be available in a base 64GB configuration, with an extra 100 to get to a 128GB configuration.
Pixel 2: £629, or $649USD for the 64GB model
Pixel 2 XL: £799, or $849USB for the 64GB model
Also, as an introductory offer, Google will be throwing in a free Home Mini with the first few Pixel 2 orders.