We've seen it all now - Google's big hardware day has seen the launch of two phones, a new Chromecast, an enhanced Virtual Reality headset, a WiFi router, and an intelligent, connected home speaker with voice recognition. Here, we bring to you all the latest gadgets launched by Google, along with the relevant software improvements that Google's new technology will flaunt.
Leaked and rumoured for what feels like ages, the new Pixel smartphones run on the latest generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC. The AMOLED displays look fairly bright, and the smaller Pixel phone feels particularly ergonomic to hold.
The new Android interface now has deeper Google Assistant integration, which is essentially OK Google, only much smarter now. The app drawer now slides out from the bottom.
The camera actually seems to be really fast. One interesting thing to note about the Pixel phones' cameras is that they automatically shoot at HDR+ to enhance photo quality. Google claims that the Pixel cameras are the "best smartphone cameras ever".
Here is a photograph (of..well..nothing) shot by the new Pixel phone.
As opposed to every year, though, Google's phones are rather expensive this time. The 32GB Google Pixel is priced at Rs. 57,000 and the 128GB variant costs Rs. 66,000. As for the Pixel XL smartphones, the 32GB variant costs Rs. 67,000, and the 128GB Pixel XL costs a whopping Rs. 76,000.
Moving beyond smartphones, we now have the Daydream VR headset. Google has not only aimed at improving the VR experience, but the overall comfort and feel of holding and wearing it.
The Daydream VR seems to be very comfortable. It also feels particularly premium, has touch-sensitive buttons for control, and offers a very fluid VR experience.
The Google Daydream View VR headset costs $79, or a little more than Rs. 5,000. We have not yet received confirmation of its price in India, but we sincerely hope that it remains around this margin.
The Daydream View controller feels agile and accurate, and seems quite engaging on first impressions. It is this combination that makes the Daydream View a possible VR headset that would bring virtual reality to the masses.
On to Chromecast Ultra, Google WiFi and Google Home, then. While the Chromecast Ultra and WiFi improve over their respective predecessors, Google Home is an entirely new product.
The highlight feature of the Chromecast Ultra, indeed, is support for 4K content. Apparently, it will be almost twice as fast as its predecessor, and also, nearly twice as expensive, priced at $69, or Rs. 4,600.
The Chromecast Ultra will be able to work in tandem with Google Home, upon launch, giving Google a hardware portfolio of interconnected devices. It will stream 4K from YouTube and Netflix on launch, with Play Movies support to be added next month.
On to Google Home, then. The Google Home is an answer to Amazon's Echo, powered by AI and data mining firm, Alexa. And, while the similarities lie in the fact that both are connected home speakers with voice recognition, assistance and search facilities, there are multiple differences, too.
With the revamped Google Assistant integrated into it, Google Home can literally be the heart of your connected home ecosystem. With Chromecasts, Google Home can control your TVs, speakers, and even compatible smart lighting systems.
Google Home can also add a dash of colour by offering various base grille patterns and shades. The intelligent speaker is up for preorders in the USA for $129, or Rs. 8,600. Dates and final pricing for India have not been unveiled.
The final one on the list is Google Wifi. Simply named to convey purpose and simplicity, Google Wifi is a multi-point router that aims to ease whole-home wireless connectivity. For relevance, if Google Home is the heart of the ecosystem, the Google Wifi is the source for the heart's power. Technically, Google Wifi can deliver higher speeds, supports simultaneous dual-band connectivity, Bluetooth Smart support, and can be controlled with an app. Prices begin at $129 (Rs. 8,600) in the USA, although nothing has been stated yet on international availability.
To sum up, here's everything that Google announced earlier today. The hardware lineup is quite exciting, and we wonder when all of it would be launched in India.
Pixel, Pixel XL smartphones: Rs. 57,000 - Rs. 76,000
Daydream View VR headset: Rs. 5,300 (approx.)
Chromecast Ultra: Rs. 4,600 (approx.)
Home intelligent speaker: Rs. 8,600 (approx.)
Wifi multi-point router: Rs. 8,600 - Rs. 19,900 (approx.)
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