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Dave's Google Home Family — Page 1
So you got yourself a Google Home?
So you got a Google Home (GH) speaker? Perhaps you purchased it yourself? Then you only have yourself to blame! Or were you given a GH as a gift? Are you thinking that this friend might not really be a friend? Are you going to Walmart to buy a rope and stool? Wait! Stop!
First, it isn't that bad! Second, be aware that Walmart sells their rope and stools in different departments. :) Yes, this is going to be that kind of a page.
Once you get your devices going, you will wonder how you existed before you got them. Yes, this is the Jetson Age!
As a kid of the 50's, I saw the film, The Further Adventures of Ma & Pa Kettle. I remember the Home of the Future that Ma and Pa moved in to. It had several, what we call "Smart Home" features. I never forgot this film and thought it would be cool to have a home like this someday. Today is that someday.
Pick Your Google Home Device!
If you aren't looking for a GH, you can skip this section. I ordered my GH in 2016 and it was delivered in late that year. It was their Google Home($129 — $79)the only model at the time. Less than a year later, they offered their Google Home Mini ($49 — $29). Then came the Google Home Max ($399). (The lower prices are sale prices that I have seen. Shop around and wait for a sale to buy your second one.)
JBL has 4 speakers from $150 to $400. They are in the speaker business. I've seen good reviews on several of their products.
Insignal by Best Buy have two nice speakers. They have their big assistant (nickname "Darth") ($149 — $60), and their smaller model, ("Little Darth") $99, but often on sale as little as $40. Just before Christmas 2017, I got one for free, with the purchase of a $25 toaster. I didn't want the toaster, but wanted that LD for $27 including sales tax! These have a couple unique features, such as a clock display, and the speakers are stereo, unlike the standard Google Home. The larger Darth model has a 5 hour battery!
The Insignia models don't have all the features that the Google Home speakers have. They don't allow for making phone calls. Also, there are no equalizer settings. But these are minor features. Also, all these devices get firmware updates occasionally.
The Zolo Mojo is another speaker that has had good reviews. They are around $50 or so. Watch for sales. There are some other GH type makers too.
Since all these speakers are plugged in and operating
24/7, and a lot of them are running, the power consumption
can add up. I've measured the idle power of these GH devices.
Google Home – 2 watts
Google Home Mini – 1.5 watts
Small Insignia – 4 watts
Large Insignia – 5 watts
There is more on the horizon but nothing close enough to reach my hands. One product is the Lenovo Google Assistant with a screen. I'll likely purchase one of those when they come out. I suppose that other companies will make these too. If my house gets too full, I'll unload a couple. In the picture above, I already own a couple spares. The Darth will work well on my back porch in the summer.
Billy Laptop's Cluster (he has a lot more than this!)
What Else You'll Need
Connection: You'll need an internet connection and a wifi router. This can be a 2.4GHz type, but the GH will work on 5GHz too. I put all my GH's up on the higher band. My smart home items only work on 2.4GHz. That means that you will need to use 2.4 wifi when you fiddle with your smart plugs(SP) and wifi bulbs.
Computer: An iPad, iPhone, or Android phone or box is required to set up your GH, but isn't required for regular operation. This computer must be capable of wifi operation.
I have several computers I use. My iPad uses the Google Home app, available at no cost at the Apple App Store. I also use an Android Tablet, but I mostly use an Android box which connects to a monitor and keyboard/mouse.
The main requirements are that the OS be up do date. I've used Android 5.0. It is essential that the device you use support Bluetooth! Most Android boxes above $50 support Bluetooth.
Naming your speaker When setting up a speaker, you are asked to assign a unique name to this speaker. Most people use the included room name suggestions. If you don't see a name that fits the location or use of your GH, then add a custom name. You can change the name at anytime, if you change your mind or move your GH. The actual name can be anything, but it helps with a command to a particular room if your names make sense.
Adding Another (or many) Speakers
Once you have one of these speakers, you'll want more. Multiple speakers work very well together and enhance your overall experience with the speakers.
Groups Here is where all this gets good. You can add two or more speakers to a group. For example, in my home, I set up a group called "whole House.
I have seven GH devices in this group. Five around the house and my two spare Insignia speakers. I can then say, "stream KABL to whole house". After the GH that I spoke to acknowledges my request, all 5 plugged in speakers play KABL radio. No matter which room, I'm always within earshot of the music. How great is that?
More groups. Besides your first group that activates all your GH's, you can add as many groups as you want. Just click on one of the devices that will make up the new group, and click Make Group.
Each person can make their own group. Or the group can relate to the task that is likely to take place. I do have a second group, with covers my two sound bars. More on that later.
Casting Audio Here And There From Everywhere
What will cast? You can cast from any device that is connected to the same network as your GH's. This can include a Linux, Windows or Mac computer, Android or iOS devices.
There must be an app or program that supports the Google Cast system. The Google Chrome Browser fills that requirement. Also the new version 3.0 of VLC. I'm sure there are other apps, but these serve my needs
If there is audio from a web based audio player, I just press the cast button and tell it where to cast (either single GH or group or Chromecast Audio dongle.
I then can have audio throughout my house.
Chromecast Audio is a dongle device that allows a connection between your Google Homes (or your computer) and your stereo system. If you have that old amp and speakers gathering dust, get one of these Chromecast audio dongles and put that system back to work.I bought one when it was on sale for $25. I first used it with my old stereo system (until I found a different solution). Then I moved it to a small stereo amp/speaker set. Finally I moved connected my Chromecast audio to my sound bar. There is where it will remain. When they go on sale again, I'll get another.
This Chromecast audio and a similar built-in device is in my Sound bar groupI can port my computer, and any GH to my sound bars.
I would like to quickly mention that I have two other cast devices. These are internet radios by Grace Digital. One is the Mondo Plus and the other is the Encore Plus. both came out in 2017 as refreshes of their old products. I can cast any audio to these boxes. The radios can connect to an external amplifier, thus giving the big sound casted by a GH. Perhaps not super useful for all. If you have a phone on the wifi network, you can stream from it to better speakers in these radios.
There are two models of the Chromecast video product. Chromecast Video One works at 1080P for $35 and a 4k model for $69. These also go on sale around the holidays.
If you have a recent tv, you can send voice commands to turn the set on and off and control other functions. You need one of the second generation models to do the fanciest tricks.
You can send YouTube videos to your screen with your voice. That will impress your relatives on Thanksgiving.
In the GH app, you can direct audio or video content to be automatically sent to any other speaker or cast device. The speaker will still talk to you in the operation of the GH, but you don't have to tell the GH to send the stream to another device each time. For instance, you could have a GH Mini in a room, but direct content to feed to your Chromecast Audio dongle which is connected to your existing stereo or sound bar. Big sound – little money.
This cast directing feature is in your app. Click on Devices, then locate the Device Card you want to adjust. Click the menu icon in the upper right hand corner, and then Settings. Scroll down to Default Music Speaker or Default TV.