Google released a lot of hardware products this year, and personally, the Google Pixel is my favorite. But that’s not all Google introduced. There was also the Chromecast Ultra, the Daydream View VR headset, Google Wifi, and Google Home. It’s safe to say that if there’s a Google fan in your life, you’ve had plenty of options to pick from this holiday season.
And while it may just be a couple days until Christmas, a few of these options might still be up for grabs if you’re looking to run out to a brick-and-mortar store at the last second…
Google Pixel and Google Wifi have both seen pretty limited availability since launch, and your choice of brick-and-mortar retailers for these are more restricted. A WiFi router might not be exactly the best gift, and grabbing a premium $650+ smartphone probably isn’t going to be something that people have waited until this late to buy. But a couple of Google’s new products, Daydream View and Google Home, are widely available in the US and would make great gifts for just about anyone.
As I said in my review earlier this year, Daydream View is a great VR experience and will make just about anyone happy — as long as the person you’re buying for has a Daydream-ready phone:
Daydream View doesn’t have any super-fancy hardware or high-tech features, but that’s not what makes this a great VR experience. The entire point of the Daydream View is that it offers immersive and interactive VR for the any person. I really do think that the best way to describe this headset is as a natural evolution of Cardboard. Cardboard++, if you will. It takes Cardboard, adds a great VR app, brings a great VR headset that’s physically attractive and comfortable, and introduces a controller for navigating VR apps. All of these improvements, together, I think are worth your $79, and there’s so much potential for this to get even better in the coming months.
In terms of brick-and-mortar stores, you’re probably going to have to head to Best Buy if you want to pick up a Daydream View. You can buy the headset at Best Buy for $79, and pick up is available today and tomorrow (December 23rd and 24th) if you’re looking to get it by Christmas. Stores close early on Christmas Eve, however, so plan accordingly.
Another Google product that we reviewed this year that (1) makes a great gift and (2) is readily available at many brick-and-mortar stores is Google Home. This voice-activated speaker is similar in lots of ways to Amazon Echo, but instead packs Google Assistant. As I mentioned in my review, it’s not as capable as Amazon Echo out of the box, but there’s a lot of potential and I think the $129 is a great value that brings a better speaker:
Amazon’s Echo has a couple of years head start, but in that time it has picked up third-party support for wemo, Samsung SmartThigns, Philips Hue, tp-link devices, Nest, Ecobee, and plenty of services like iHeartRadio, tunein, Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, StubHub, Huffington Post, Automatic, Fidelity, and even Campbell’s Kitchen. As of today, the Google Home pretty much just has a few music services, Uber support, NPR news, and a few of those internet of things platforms. So right now, the Echo clearly wins in that area (sheer capability), but I think that we’ll see that change over the next year.
If you want a Google Home by Christmas, your best bet is probably Target or Best Buy. You can check store availability on Best Buy’s website, where you can also buy the Home for $129 with in-store pickup. Alternatively, you can quickly check for stock of the Home at Target using Brickseek, which is currently showing stock at around 75% overall. Between these two options you have a pretty good chance of picking up a Home before the end of the day on Christmas Eve. You can also check Walmart.
Bonus: Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra
This was one of our favorite picks for Googley holiday gifts last year, but I can’t conclude this last-second gift guide without mentioning it. If anyone around you doesn’t have a Chromecast, go get them one at Target, Walmart, or Best Buy for $25. Cutting the cable cord is getting more and more popular lately, and the Chromecast is one of the best tools you can have to help your friends and family accomplish this. If you know they’re really into 4K content, then maybe get a Chromecast Ultra for $70.