So, you’re finally biting the bullet and investing in one of those fancy “smart home” thingies. You’re going to love having a little robot to talk to when you would normally just be talking to yourself (what? Just us?). There are a number of little house robots out there, but which one is right for you and the family? Let’s look at what each one has to offer.
Google Home – $180
“Okay, Google, play Netflix.” Google Home is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of smart home technology. It’s got a sleek minimalist design that gets a Millennial’s heart pumping at just the thought (does it come in rose gold?) and the LED touch screen controls make it look like something out of Black Mirror.
Google Home can distinguish different people’s voices, answers questions contextually and allows you to call or message people with just your voice. It’s also a good-range Bluetooth speaker. The Mini ($80) allows you to spread that technology around your whole house so you don’t have to be in range of the Home unit when a random question like “how long do giraffes live?” pops into your head.
Amazon Echo – $130
“Hey Alexa, are you better than Google?” The Amazon Echo would obviously tell you that it’s superior to it’s competitor, but the truth is, they’re very similar.
Though not as sleek as the gHome, Amazon Echo blends in with decor better and has a more homey vibe. It does pretty much all the same things as Google — voice distinction, calling and messaging, music playback — but experts say it has the best voice control on the market right now. It also has the Amazon Echo Dot ($70) which functions in the same way as the Google Mini to integrate your system throughout the entire house.
Here’s the big catch: Amazon and Google are huge rivals and they’re not subtle about it. If you’re an avid Amazon Prime user, you won’t be able to link your video account to your Google Home. Similarly, if you have an Echo, you won’t be able to use Google apps, including YouTube through it. Yes, it seems like bad business to make your customers suffer for your own littler corporate feud, but it’s something to consider when you’re selecting your system. It looks like you’re going to have to pick a side.
Jibo – $1,200
If you really want to live in the future, Jibo is a little (okay, a lot) more expensive, but it’s the closest thing out there to an actual robot butler. This little guy has facial recognition as well as voice recognition and can act like a family pet. It dances when you tell it to and purrs when you pet it. Jibo will also take your photo if you want him to (for those times you want to get everyone in the picture). If you’re looking for the next step in smart home technology, it’s the super-social Jibo. Plus, your kids will seriously love this little guy.