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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home in a virtual standoff

For decades, we have seen people talk to computers in science fiction movies. Dave spoke to HAL. Michael Knight was assisted by KITT. Captain Picard directed “Computer.” The computers were smart and personable, and they (usually) did what they were told.
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When Amazon’s Echo hit the market two years ago, this dream came true — sort of. The Echo was an affordable futuristic device that responded to voice commands. You could ask “Alexa” a question and get an immediate response. This little black cylinder is clearly not full-on artificial intelligence, but it has wowed customers.

Now there’s Google Home, a similar device that rivals Echo in every way. As these high-tech machines vie for dominance, the natural question is: Which one is better? I’ve tried them both, and I can tell you that each has its benefits and drawbacks.

Here are some highs and lows about Amazon Echo and Google Home. For more details, click here for my handy, side-by-side feature comparison chart.

Form factor

Both devices look sleek and sophisticated, like small modernist sculptures. Their simplicity makes them appropriate just about anywhere, but they would probably look best on a Swedish shelving unit.

The 9.2-inches-tall Amazon Echo looks like a small black tower with a blue circle that lights up on top. It has seven microphones, so it easily picks up sound from any direction. It nicely complements the Echo Dot, a separate device that looks like a hockey puck and is designed to help you deliver voice commands in other locations in your home.

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