Google and its services have firmly become our everyday companions. We use the company’s search engine and continue to find it to be the most efficient out there. Gmail has been the standard for exchanging emails between corporate workers and average people too. Google Docs is a great free replacement for pricey Microsoft Office, and Drive has been nothing but amazing for keeping personal files and photos online.
But Google doesn’t end there. It also has a few trick up its sleeve when it comes to gadgets. Some of them are excellent, some are questionable, but all of them are unique and bring something new and fresh to the existing markets. So let’s take a look at the devices by Google.
We hope you’ve already had a chance to appreciate this fascinating set-up having read our earlier write-up on it. But this cool-looking mesh Wi-Fi system meant to put an end to the dead zones in your house sure is worth mentioning twice. It places several connections around the home, which work together to make sure that all spots are covered. This way the signal simply bypasses thick walls and doors, rather than try and go through them. According to Google, one router is enough to cover a relatively small building up to 1,500 square feet, or 140 square meters.
Google WiFi is controlled by an application that you need to download and install on your smartphone. You can use it to put Wi-Fi on pause, prioritize a device so that it runs at the highest speed, or create several separate networks. It’s a bit pricey at $129, but Google promises it will work much better than your standard router.
Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra
Downloading movies on a flash drive and putting it on your TV is so 2010. Nowadays you can simply stream them from your smartphone. There are plenty of hardware solutions for seamless high-quality streaming but Chromecast at $35 is the benchmark. Just plug it into one of your TV’s HDMI ports and download the official app. It works with your favorite applications like Netflix or YouTube, and you can use your phone as a remote to pause the video or control the volume. By the way, your phone calls or messages do not interrupt the movies your are streaming. You can also use the device to mirror the image on your smartphone – like browsing a website or playing a video game.
The content is transmitted from the cloud through WiFi, and in our experience, there haven’t been any hiccups or buffering so far. If you want to stream your 4K video, though, you’ll have to Chromecast Ultra at $69.
With the release of the Pixel lineup, Google effectively killed its previous Nexus series and introduced a new approach to pricing policy. The new phones are more expensive – starting at $649 and $769 respectively – and aim at conquering the premium market, which usually generates the most revenue. The 5-inch Pixel and the 5.5-inch Pixel XL are some of the best smartphones out there, only comparable to Samsung Galaxy S8 and the iPhone. They sport the newest hardware, as well as camera, great design and build quality, praised by different renowned reviewers.
The fact that it was created by Google is the Pixel’s biggest advantage. We can’t stress enough how great the pure Android experience is. You get only the best and latest features and no third-party applications. No bloatware, no occasional lagging, caused by seller-specific firmware. No waiting for Android updates and Google tends to upgrade even older phones to the newest OS version. The tech giant constantly experiments with additional features. Google Assistant has been particularly useful so far – the application operates, based on your activity and adjusts to your lifestyle.
If you have one of the Pixel phones, you might want to dive into the world of virtual reality. And Google’s Daydream View is probably the easiest and cheapest way to do it. You can get one for as much as $79, compared to other models which cost hundreds of dollars. The headset is easy to set up and use – you don’t need to adjust the lenses or plug cables. Your phone automatically pairs with the device. It comes with a motion controller, which makes going through menus as easy as can be. The image quality is quite good, but you won’t be fooled though.
The biggest drawback – the VR only supports a handful of phones: the Pixels, Moto Z and a couple of others. If you already have one of them and want to see for yourself what virtual reality is all about, you should give it a try.
Google Assistance – in a box! The Home is a device, powered by the Assistant we know from the Pixel. It stays connected to Wi-Fi and performs all kinds of tasks. You can ask it to translate phrases from one language to another, ask it to find some information, play songs by a specific artist from Google Play Music, YouTube, Spotify – or stream music from your phone! Setting alarm or managing schedules have never been so easy! Ok, Google, how’s the traffic today?
Google Chromebook Pixel
The Chromebook demonstrates Google’s take on laptops. It’s not your average machine – it’s light (about 1.5 kg) and beautiful. There are some serious drawbacks, though. The Chrome OS is an online-based operating system, meaning you need a stable Internet connection to use its features to the fullest. It is built around the browser, where you make 90% of your operations. Windows applications are incompatible, but in return, users get quite a lot. It’s incredibly snappy and fast, and solid battery life – up to 12 hours.
The Pixel is perfect for using on the go, and with Google’s online services – Docs and Drive in particular – the difference between Chrome OS and full-scale Windows vanishes almost completely. And it’s a beauty to look at – the Pixel is praised for its marvelous 13-inch display with 2560×1700 resolution. Buyers also get three years of 1 terabyte Google Drive storage, which can easily make up for its extremely small 32 or 64 GB internal storage.
Fun fact: the second gen (2015) Pixel starts at $999 at the Google store going up to $1299 for the LS (Ludacris Speed) model, whereas the first gen Pixel (2013), a relatively similar machine, can be had on Amazon for $369 – top of the line (64Gb local storage, Verizon LTE) and brand new! Who needs USB-c and longer battery life anyway!
The Pixel is not meant to serve as a replacement for your desktop PC. It’s not suitable for gamers or video editors. It’s a working machine nonetheless, which you can easily perform your office activities on. But yes, at the price of $1,299, the device is rather questionable due to its limited functionality. Google seems to have decided to discontinue the lineup, so we might be in for a new approach on laptops, who knows.