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A qualified assistant

Colorful thinking

Imitation = Flattery

Quite the entertainer

Smarter home

Look familiar

Under the hood

Synced up

Changing stripes

Blending in

Do the twist

Snap into place

What can brown do for you?

Plug it in

Speak up

Wake words

Ready to serve

Mute

Privacy concerns

Finding its niche

Chromecast helps

The competition

Potential

Looking forward

Plug in the $130 Google Home and it'll act a personal assistant, a smart home controller and an entertainment hub. It integrates with Google Assistant and other Google services to offer personalized results.

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As a personal assistant, Home can tell you about the traffic on your way to work and your local weather in your morning briefing.

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You'll see its multi-color display spin as it thinks.

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Google Home has a lot in common with the $180 Amazon Echo.

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Home bests Echo by working with Chromecast streamers and controlling your home's speakers or TV. You do something similar with the smaller Amazon Echo Dot by plugging it into your home's sound system, or connecting over Bluetooth.

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As a smart home controller, Home works with Nest, Philips Hue, SmartThings and IFTTT.

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And yes, it does look like an air freshener.

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But I still like the design. Pop off the base and you'll find a powerful speaker hidden underneath.

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You can play music on the Home, and also on any Google Cast enabled speaker or any speaker that has a Chromecast streamer. Better yet, you can group multiple speakers and play them together with a single command to Home.

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If you want to change how it looks, you can buy different colored bases.

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The grey one is the default, and makes Home look professional, if a bit bland. Though, in fairness, the grey base is nicely understated.

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The base pops off if you unplug the speaker and give it a twist.

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Pop on the new one and it'll automatically snap into place and be properly aligned. Home's well designed to make swapping bases easy.

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Once you find your color of choice, you can plug in Home and download the Google Home app to get started.

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The plug fits snuggly underneath Home.

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Once you connect Home to your Wi-Fi with the app, you'll need to link your Google account.

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Then, just say "Hey Google" or "Okay Google" and speak your command.

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You'll see these four lights when Home's listening.

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If you don't want Home listening, you can always hit the mute button.

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That said, Home only records what you say after you say the wake words.

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We really liked Home as a smart home controller.

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It works best as an entertainer, thanks to its integrations with Chromecast.

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Right now, it might not be quite as good as Alexa. Amazon's assistant has a robust list of skills.

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So Google has some catching up to do, but it already fulfills a lot of its potential.

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Google Home is a versatile device now, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it becomes over time. For more, be sure to read our full review.

Caption by / Photo by Tyler Lizenby/CNET
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