I got the Google Home Max yesterday. I bought the white one from Verizon in the minutes after it went on sale. I got the free shipping option which was about as fast as the 1 day shipping from Best Buy. It comes packaged nicely in a very Googley box pictured above.

Here we go:

1. The Google Home Max is both heavier and smaller than I was anticipating. At 12 lbs. it is substantial and owes most of its weight to those heavy magnets that come with quality speakers. Dimensions are 7.4 inches x 13.2 inches x 6 inches, so it really doesn’t take up too much space in the kitchen. We have an open floor plan kitchen and den so I was hoping to span the two rooms with the one device. It is replacing a regular Google Home which performed admirably in its role there, but lagged a better sounding option, especially when entertaining.

2. Setting up the Google Home Max is beyond easy. If you’ve set up a Google Home or Home Mini, it is pretty much the same thing. Expect to be up and running in about 5 minutes. If this is your first Google Home product, you might need some extra time to set up apps and voice profiles.

3. I got the Chalk color because it was the only one in stock at Verizon, but it looks very nice. Quality is good – especially the “sound transparent” material over the grill. If I had it to do over, I might get Charcoal however. It looks a little more elegant. Chalk definitely looks better than the JBL Link, but at double the price, I’d expect that.

4. I was surprised to find the wireless range wasn’t as good as expected. It doesn’t reach the far ends of my house where an iMac and my Android and iPhones reach. I’ve got a heavy-duty TP-Link AC3200 so I know it isn’t the router. This is weird because Google touts the 2.4/5Ghz wireless.

5. The front grill doesn’t come off (easily anyway) great question Abner – it would be nice to have a gander at those 4.5 inch subwoofers doing their thing.

6. The back is pretty plain white with a big mute switch in the middle and the bottom housing AUX in, USB-C (for what? Charging your phone? USB-Ethernet? Going to do some experimenting) and the AC plug. There’s also a handy little white LED that let’s you know it is plugged in. It feels like Google wants this side to be hidden. It is surprising to me there is no air intake here.

7. The top/side volume slider/mute isn’t great (video below)…and for some reason the mute switch is in the middle so when you slide the volume halfway down it just mutes when you get to the middle. It is even weirder in portrait mode. Good thing most people will use voice commands to raise and lower the volume. Hiding the Mute switch in the back makes me think Google doesn’t want to use this. Hmm.

8. The sound is great. I’m no audiophile, but my wife told me I was waking up the kids on the other side of the house, so that’s serious noise. The songs I played sounded great even when at max volume. There’s no shortage of bass as you would imagine with the dual 4.5s. This is the most important thing. I’ll be honest here: I don’t know if it adjusted the sound based on its surroundings like it is supposed to. There’s no subjective way to prove it, but again it sounded really good and works with other Google speakers throughout the house to replicate the functionality of Sonos. You can obviously Chromecast to it from your phone as well.

9. Those 4 lights in the front grill. I’m left wanting more here as far as status. Maybe an EQ type of effect? I guess it is subtle and if I want a garish speaker, I’ll go here.

10. It does all the things a Google Home or Google Home Mini do as you might imagine. It is a little more fun talking to a speaker that has the fidelity of the “voice of god” however when asking “how many tablespoons in a cup?” 16 TABLESPOONS!

All in all, this is a very expensive but great sounding version of the Google Home or Mini. For those who want incredible sound without wiring or bluetoothing from a smaller smart speaker, this is the best sound in town and I’m definitely keeping mine. I justified the cost of $399 by subtracting the $120 value of the free year of YouTube Red/Play Music that is included. At $279, this is a great product :D

You can pick up a Google Home Max from Google directly or (without tax outside NY/NJ) at B&H, Walmart (Charcoal in stock), Verizon in Chalk only or Best Buy in Charcoal and Chalk

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