What Happened at the Google Live Event: What You Need to Know

Gadgets & Gizmos

What Happened at the Google Live Event: What You Need to Know

Today, Google held a live event to introduce some new products to the world. There weren’t any big surprises, thanks to pre-event leaks across the web. However, there were some clarifications and some really neat demos. Google introduced the Pixel Phone, the Daydream VR headset, Google Home, the Chromecast Ultra, and Google Wi-Fi. Let’s talk about each one in turn

Pixel Phone

The Pixel phone is Google’s first in-house produced phone, supplanting the Nexus as its flagship device. This phone comes in two sizes and three initial colors: 5” and 5.5” with the super descriptive colors of Quite Black, Very Silver, and the limited edition Really Blue. The Pixel also sports the best camera available on a phone so far, achieving a DXOmark of 89 (and as Google pointed out, with no camera bump either).

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While the Pixel has taken the road forged by Apple and other newer smart phones by removing external memory options, you do get unlimited Google storage for your pictures and videos at original quality. That includes support for the 4k video that the Pixel is capable of shooting. It also comes out of the box with Google Assistant, Googles answer to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. It also supports the Daydream VR headset natively.

The Pixel starts at $649 for the base model and is available for preorder today.

The Daydream

The Daydream comes out as Google’s actual VR headset, a much needed upgrade to Cardboard. The headset is designed to work with the Pixel, of course, but will also work with any Daydream compatible phone. The headset is different in how it was designed and looks as comfortable and upscale as any VR headset could be. The outer shell isn’t hard plastic, but rather a soft cloth that comes in three colors, snow, slate, and crimson.

The headset also comes with a controller with sensitive six-axis sensors, and stores inside the headset when not in use. Because it pairs with the phone wirelessly, there are no plugs or cables to worry about connecting. You literally turn it on, put it in the headset, and you’re ready to go.

The Google Daydream VR Headset, coming soon

The Google Daydream VR Headset, coming soon

This headset syncs up nicely with Google Maps, allowing them to put you on the ground in over 150 iconic locations. You can tour the Taj Mahal, or wander around the Great Pyramids of Giza, complete with spoken audio tours. Support is also enabled for the entire YouTube library, for good or for bad (can you imagine watching the Nyan Cat 100 hour loop? Pretty sure that would qualify as a violation of the Geneva Convention). Support is coming for Netflix, which given our tendencies here at the High Tech Society, could lead to some very long binge sessions of the Marvel Trilogy (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage) released so far.

The Daydream will cost $79 when it releases, making it one of the most affordable VR headsets on the market.

Google Home

Google Home is where Google looks to compete with the highly popular and efficient Amazon Echo. If you currently have an Android smart phone, you’re familiar with the basics. You start by saying, “OK Google,” and go from there.

Much like the Echo it seeks to transplant, the Google Home cylinder responds to voice commands and accesses the web to respond to your requests. Whether it’s playing music from Spotify, Google Play Music, YouTube, Pandora, or TuneIn, this guy handles it like a champ. Hook it up to your A/V system and you can use voice controls to watch YouTube videos on  your TV, access your photo library, and watch other media.

Some highlights from the new Google Home device

Some highlights from the new Google Home device

Where the Google Home really shines, however, is in its search capabilities. Using Google’s search algorithms, the device is able to find specific places, tie them into your current location, and estimate time of travel based on current traffic conditions. It also seamlessly ties into your existing Android devices, so any information you create with Home, such as lists or events, is accessible across the entire infrastructure.

Google Home can also control the lights and other equipment, should you have smart home devices. Dim your lights when you’re in bed, turn them on before you get home, start your dinner just before your 4pm meeting (Why did you schedule a meeting at this time, Steve?). It’s all possible with the interconnectivity. Release price is $129.

Chromecast and Wi-Fi

We love the Chromecast. Admittedly, we’re still rocking the first one we got years ago, but that’s because it still works really well. The new device, the Chromecast Ultra, is an upgrade from the hockey puck version that’s able to stream media in 4k. If you have a 4k TV, you should look into this, if only so you no longer have to suffer the peasantry of 1080p chromecasting. (We’re kidding).

Because 4k streaming takes a lot of bandwidth, Google bowed to necessity and installed an Ethernet port onto the device. If you plan on taking advantage of the 4K Ultra HD/HDR capabilities, you definitely want this. The Chromecast Ultra will release for $69

The Wi-Fi setup was a small part of the Livestream, but is pretty impressive on its own. When you get this set, you can get a one-pack or a three-pack of these small get three white plastic hockey pucks that can be placed around your home.

Google Wi-Fi device with a screenshot of the accompanying app.

Google Wi-Fi device with a screenshot of the accompanying app.

Essentially, each Wi-Fi router meshes with another one on the same network to provide seamless coverage throughout your home. The connecting app allows you complete control over the network, even allowing you to disconnect devices at will (as a parent, this appeals to me). While you can set up exclusion times for specific MAC IDs and devices on current routers, the flexibility of the app is a great convenience.

The Wi-Fi will cost $129 each or $299 for three.

Some pretty cool tech coming out from Google,  which  one are you looking forward to owning?

About The Author
Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds has spent his entire life immersed in some form of technology or another.  It started with a simple Non-Turing test compliant AI that he programmed using BASIC when he was fourteen, and has led to pursuing a BS in Computer Science with a focus on mobile security algorithms.  In his spare time, he is a stereotypical nerd, playing video games and trying to teach his two toddler daughters to type out his code so he doesn’t have to do what he considers, “the boring part.”