Features

5 Reasons why I love Google Home

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I can’t help but feel like a super hero every time I summon my virtual personal assistant.

She doesn’t have a fancy name like Iron Man’s Jarvis but she’s well known.

She simply goes by the name Google – and now, apart from my computer and smartphone, she also resides in a little contraption called Home.

There’s nothing fancy about the way Google Home looks, it’s an almost cylindrical piece of hardware, with muted colors, and nothing more but a microphone and speakers built into its base.   

But what makes Google Home such a great idea, is that while it’s a smart and powerful piece of technology, it is for the most part out of the way and unobtrusive but still always there when you need it.

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One can argue that our smartphones can do all of the same things and more, but we are so often sucked into our phones that we sometimes lose touch of the real world. The best tech, I believe, is the kind that you don’t have touch or even see, but you know it’s there, and it gets the job done.

Google Home is just that. She hasn’t quite reached her potential yet, but even now this $149 piece of smart tech has already found a spot right in the center of my home. Here are five reasons why.

Turning off the lights from bed

Some will argue that voice control is for the lazy. But imagine this: You’re under the weather and already tucked in, but then all the lights are on. What would you do? That was me just this week; I couldn’t muster the strength to move so I literally said in a hushed voice, “Hey Google, turn off the lights” and off to sleep I went. Of course, for this to work, your light bulbs need to be smart too. If you have Philips Hue color bulbs you can also have Google change your light’s colors to match the mood. Perfect for all kinds of entertaining.

Booking an Uber handsfree

Whenever I have to leave the house, I find myself often in a rush to get ready, so picking up my phone to book a ride is a necessary waste of my precious time. With Google Home I can say, “Hey Google, book me an Uber.” Once it finds a ride and asks me to confirm, an Uber will be on its way without me having to look at my phone, not even once. 

Knowledge on demand

Sure it’s fun to have Google Home entertain guests by having her answer the most obscure of trivia questions. But there are times when you need quick answers, and the fastest, most convenient way of getting them is by simply asking. Just the other day, I was trying to figure out how to make a German breakfast called Milschreis that called for boiling milk. Last time I tried to heat milk it curdled. Without taking my hands off my mixing bowl, I asked Google, “How do I boil milk without curdling,” and she walked me through it. Breakfast was great too.

Entertainment hub

Because it has speakers built in, Google Home can play any song from Spotify (as long as you have a Premium account). You don’t even have to know the song title, as long as you can recite the lyrics you can say something like, “Okay Google, play the song that goes ‘Turn up the lights in here, baby!’” If you have Chromecast on your TV, you can also ask it to play the latest video from your favorite YouTuber. Netflix support is also being promised.

Everyday assistant

I’ve always wanted an executive assistant to keep my affairs straight. I still can’t afford one, but Google does a pretty decent job at covering the basics. When I wake up, I say, “Hey Google, good morning.” And she will deliver my morning brief, including the weather, what’s on my calendar, and the day’s headlines. I can also ask her to estimate how long it will take me to get to a certain place based on current traffic conditions, find me the nearest pharmacy, or tell what time the mall closes.

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Hands-On

Xiaomi Mi 9 Hands-On: 2019 Flagship Killer?

BEAST!

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Top of the line specs, amazing cameras, and high-speed wireless charging. MWC hasn’t even officially started yet, so it might be premature to say this, but has Xiaomi just unveiled the 2019 flagship killer?

We recently got to spend time with Xiaomi’s latest flagship and this is our hands-on video.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy M20 hands-on: Give the users what they want

Awakening of the sleeping giant

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Samsung has been the smartphone market leader for half a decade now, and its flagship phones continue to be an inspiration for everyone. However, while the brand is dominating in developed markets, it has taken a massive beating in the developing ones.

Thanks to players like Xiaomi, the South Korean brand has consistently lost market share in countries like India. Samsung slowly prepared itself to change strategy by the end of last year and intends to go hard in 2019. It announced the new Galaxy M-series lineup of phones in the budget segment and the M10 and M20 are the first ones to roll off the shelf.

The M20 has been launched in India for INR 10,990 (US$ 154) and comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. The option with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage costs INR 12,990 (US$ 182). The phone goes up against the Redmi 6 Pro, Realme U1, and even the Mi A2.

To start with, Samsung has opted to go with a basic design, consisting of a plastic body that is curved at the edges and is pretty glossy. The phone is extremely comfortable to hold, and the build quality is top-notch. Even the buttons are very tactile and bezels are smaller.

On the front is a 6.3-inch TFT display with a Full HD resolution and small water-drop style notch on the top. This is the first Samsung phone to feature a notch, and the display quality is surprisingly good. The color production is vivid and satisfying, while the viewing angles are perfect. It is easily visible even under direct sunlight.

For authentication, a fingerprint scanner is located on the rear and it is fast enough. You also have the option of face unlock and it works quickly in well-lit conditions. It has dual-SIM support and there’s a separate slot for microSD card, as well.

Powering the phone is an octa-core Exynos 7904 processor, which is considered to be on par with the Snapdragon 636. It is a very power-efficient processor with more emphasis on the cameras. Day-to-day tasks are handled smoothly and games like PUBG are playable with low graphics.

It has a dual-camera setup on the rear, consisting of a 13-megapixel primary shooter and a 5-megapixel wide-angle sensor. The pictures clicked during daytime are decently saturated but lack sharpness. Even focus tends to get slow in low-light conditions. The wide-angle lens works best in bright surroundings only and is a very handy tool. For selfies, it has an 8-megapixel shooter with built-in beauty enhancements.

It ships with Samsung Experience 9.5 out of the box and is actually well optimized. There is barely any lag and the UI offers a plethora of customizations and features. The company announced that the Android Pie update will be landing soon. Lastly, it has a massive 5000mAh battery that’ll get you through two days of usage.

Xiaomi has been successful because it offers users a balanced product that suits everyone’s needs. With the M20, Samsung goes down the same road. While the recently announced A-series phones were for photography enthusiasts, the M20 is good enough for everything.

The M20 is no disruptor, but an indication that Samsung is gearing up. And as a generation-one product, it’s performing fairly well.

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Cameras

Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?

Trying out the new Motion Mode on doggies!

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Fujifilm’s sequel to their first ever digital/analog hybrid is here and it’s looking better than ever. The Instax SQ20 is one classy-looking instant camera but what can it do? With a set of built-in filters and new features like the Motion Mode, it looks like a promising device.

I finally try it out, with help from some doggies, on our hands-on video.

The SQ20 retails for US$ 199 in the US, PhP 12,999 in the Philippines, and SG$ 299 in Singapore.

In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

READ ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ10 review

READ ALSO: Prynt Pocket unboxing and review: A printer that prints videos?

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