Last week Google unveiled a host of new products that were a mix of expected announcements and surprises. At the Pixel event, Google, as expected, announced its Pixel 2 and 2 XL smartphones. The inaugural Pixel showed that Google was serious about taking on Apple and with yearly upgrade cycles, it has once again joined Apple in that regard. In addition to the Pixel, a Pixelbook laptop, Pixel Buds earphones, a smaller Google Home Mini and the Google Clips camera were all shown off.
Pixel 2 and 2 XL
Given it was a Pixel event, a new Pixel was not a surprise, however it still managed to have a few features that were unexpected. The new model Pixel bucked the current smartphone trend of dual cameras with thin bezels, choosing instead to improve their model’s tech. The Pixel comes with one one camera, while claiming it will top the previous models low-light photography and beat out other modes from competitors while using only one dedicated camera.
While some features were meant to set the Pixel 2 apart from the competitions thinking, one area they did decide to fall in with is that they did away with the headphone jack. It seems that those hoping to fight the elimination of the jack are in a losing battle. While this may make some grumble for having to ditch their expensive headphones, the Pixel Buds are interesting enough to make it worth switching.
Pixel 2 also features squeezable sides. I know, not exactly a phrase that fills you with excitement, but they are pretty cool. According to Google with the squeezable frame, you can grip the sides tightly to activate a shortcut to a certain feature, or launch an app. Essentially the function acts as an additional button that you can program to do a host of different things.
Pre-orders for both phones started on October 4th. The Pixel 2 comes in three colors: Kinda Blue, Just Black and Clearly White, while the 2 XL comes in two colors: Just Black and Black and White. The phones will available in stores October 19th. The Pixel 2 has two sizes $649 for 64GB or $749 for 128GB. The 2 XL costs $849 for 64GB and $949 for 128GB.
The Pixelbook laptop was a curious product release. Chromebooks are extremely popular, they are lightweight, easy to use, and are relatively secure. Chromebooks are sold from a host of manufactures and are typically around $300. The Pixelbook, however, drops with a $999 price tag which seems to be a stretch. The hardware is considerably more powerful than any other Chromebook on the market, including 512GB storage on an internal SSD.
The problem is that it still runs the Chrome OS which is very limited. You can’t do things you could on a Windows or Mac OS. Most people using a Chromebook are doing it as a secondary machine for specific functions. Pricing something more than double other models with the hope that there’s enough passion for the Pixel line to justify it seems like a curious move. Time will tell if the Pixelbook is a success, but upon initial look it seems to be a rare misfire from Google.
As mentioned above, with the Pixel 2 elimination of the headphone jack, a need was created for headphones. The Pixel Buds fill that need in much the same way the Apple Pods did for the new iPhone models. Where the Pixel Buds stand out is its real-time translation services. The feature which sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie could be a game changer.
The real-time translation works when the earphones hear you and the Pixel’s speaker will play the translation in another language. Conversely, when the other person speaks, you will be able to hear the translation directly in the headphones. If they perform as expected, there could be a huge demand for that type of product in boardrooms across the country as well as those traveling to foreign countries.
The Pixel Buds will be available in November in color options to match the Pixel 2 and 2 XL phones for $159.
Google Home Mini
Google not only was looking at competing with smartphone makers during the Pixel event but also home assistant makers. The Google Home Mini is Google’s answer to Amazon’s Echo Dot. The Home Mini is a very attractive device that features a speaker along with Google Assistant. The color options will allow it to seamlessly integrate into a modern home decor.
While the device is a nice product and a great addition for existing Google Home users, it doesn’t really offer up anything substantially different than anything the Echo Dot is capable of. Overall it furthers the Google Home lineup but as it stands right now, it isn’t going to lure anyone over from an Echo household based on features alone.
The Google Home Mini comes in three colors: Coral, Chalk, and Charcoal for $49 and will available on October 19th.
Finally, Google announced Google Clips. The device uses AI to capture spontaneous moments based on algorithms. Designed with parents and pet owners in mind, the small camera can be set up anywhere as needed to capture moments without relying on having someone behind the camera to snap the perfect shot.
The idea sounds interesting, and as anyone with children knows, the amount of pictures taken seems endless. A smart camera snapping shots as your child grows could be perfect for a family wanting to document gatherings and every first moment for their child. That being said, grabbing it to take with you to a party might be just as entertaining for those of us without children. Although those morning after pictures may make us regret it.
Google Clips is priced at $249 and can currently be wait-listed from Google.