Back at launch, Google Home wasn’t very friendly with smart home products, but over the past few months, Google has worked with more new companies to expand what Home is capable of. Personally, I love using smart home products, and I do so quite often in my home office. Here’s what I’ve been using.
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When I bought a Google Home, I knew it was finally time to give in and jump into the Philips Hue ecosystem, mainly because it was one of Google’s only launch partners for home lighting. Several months later, I’m still ecstatic with the purchase. Every Hue device I’ve purchased has worked flawlessly, from the basic bulbs powering my lamps to the colored one I have in my ceiling light.
Later on, I decided to take things a step further by purchasing a Hue Bloom, and is something I don’t regret either. The Hue Bloom and Hue Go (I love both) are definitely overpriced, but they work perfectly for what they’re designed for.
I use the Bloom behind my TV to create a nice backlighting effect and the Hue Go is used constantly for rounding out lighting in my photos taken for the site. Most people won’t need these, but for me, they’re perfect, and they work so well with Google Home too.
TP-Link/Wemo Smart Wi-Fi Plugs
Wi-Fi plugs are probably the most important part of my smart home setup. I use them to toggle the light strips and lamp on my desk, as well as a small fan and my two ceiling-mounted studio lights. The convenience of simply telling Google Home to turn these products off and on is something I’ve grown so accustomed to, I don’t think I could go back…
When Google Home launched, I started using smart Wi-Fi plugs from Belkin. Wemo plugs are pretty bare bones and have a terrible companion app, but they do work pretty well. The standard version is also relatively cost-effective at about $25 on Amazon.
My personal favorite plugs, though, come from TP-Link. The cost-to-reliability ratio is what makes these my pick. The standard TP-Link HS100 plug rarely drops its connection from my router, and response time with a command from Google Home is very quick for the most part. The newer TP-Link “mini” plug is less reliable, but its size also makes it an excellent choice. Starting at about $25, these plugs are excellent choices.
The last major product I use with Google Home is one of Google’s own, the Chromecast Audio. I love listening to music basically all the time, and Google Home is perfect for playing songs on Spotify and Pandora, my music services of choice.
The speaker built into Home is good, but I highly prefer the Thonet & Vander Laut BT 2.1 speaker system I have hooked up to my TV. These have Bluetooth for streaming to my phone, but they also feature multiple inputs, which means I can easily hook up a Chromecast Audio and send music directly from my Google Home to that set of speakers.
Why that over a standard Chromecast? Mainly because I don’t use one. I use an Nvidia Shield TV daily, and for some reason, Google can’t figure out how to get Home casting working properly with Android TV. So, this solution works a bit better for me. The Chromecast Audio at $35 is a great companion to Google Home, especially if you’ve got a good set of speakers to go with it.