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The best smart home deals on Google, Alexa, Homekit and more

Amazon Prime Day 2020: Check out deals on the Echo Dot and other smart-home devices. (Photo: Amazon)

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It’s Amazon Prime Day, which means now is a great time to do a little early Christmas shopping by taking advantage of deals exclusive to those who have Prime membership.

We’re covering all the best Prime Day deals, but we’ve also rounded up all the must-see smart home deals you can find during this limited-time sale.

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The best smart home deals on Google, Alexa, Homekit and more 

  • Echo Dot (3rd Generation) for $18.99 (Save $31): This smart speaker has improved sound over its predecessors, and right now, Prime members can get it for less
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Best smart home devices of 2020 that aren’t made by Google or Amazon

Google and Amazon dominate the smart home industry. Beyond Amazon’s expanding lineup of Echo smart speakers, the tech giant also owns home security brands Ring and Blinkand Wi-Fi router brand Eero. Smart thermostat maker Ecobee gets funding from Amazon. Google owns Nest and brought the company further under its control this year, rebranding most of its connected devices from “Google Home” to “Google Nest,” like the Google Nest Mini and the Google Nest Hub

Our current list of best smart home products features 12 products; seven of them are Amazon or Google devices — or devices made by Amazon- or Google-owned (or funded) companies. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They’re all solid gadgets and we heartily recommend them. As much as Google and Amazon (the latter especially) deserve credit for bringing some much needed organization to the smart home category via

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Google Home: 5 questions you never knew you could ask

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The new Nest Audio is the latest addition to the Google Home family.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Almost any thought that pops into your head can be turned into a Google Home ($99 at Walmart) trick. Need to crunch some numbers and too lazy to find your phone? Google Home can calculate it way faster. Not sure how to spell a word? Google Home knows how. The list of problems you can solve with Google Home is as nearly endless as Google’s search results.

After you’ve mastered the basics — playing musicchecking the weather, playing games — it’s time to expand your repertoire. Here are some of the best not-so-obvious questions and commands you can (and should) ask Google Home:

Restaurant reservations are surprisingly easy

Just say, “OK, Google, reserve a table for two at Spago for 7 o’clock tonight.” Google Home will then walk you through booking

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Google Nest Audio review: A steal at $100

Hardware and setup

That small size was the first thing I noticed when unboxing the Nest Audio. It’s hard to get a sense for how big it is from Google’s promo pics and videos, but it’s less than 7 inches tall and only 3 inches thick. It’s slightly bigger than the original Google Home, and about the same height as the Sonos One, but much thinner (the One is about 4.7 inches thick). That small size means the Nest Audio is easy to tuck away wherever you want, but it also made me question if it could sound as good as Google promised. 

Like all of Google’s current speakers, it is covered with audio-transparent cloth that comes in five colors: Chalk, Charcoal, Sage, Sand and Sky. (I got the boring but versatile “Chalk” option.) Nest Audio is the first of Google’s speakers that is entirely covered with cloth, which adds

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Google Chromecast review: A streaming device that gets better the more it knows

Once upon a time, watching TV involved picking up a remote control, pressing the power button and flipping through channels.

Boy, have things changed. When you watch TV with the new $50 Chromecast streaming stick from Google, the search giant tries to find content that you may want to watch based on what it knows about you.

Before you get started, it wants you to take these steps:

1. After plugging the streaming stick into the back of your TV, you press and hold two buttons on the white remote control.

2. On your smartphone, you download and open the Google Home app, log in with your Google account and enter the home address where you are using the Chromecast.

3. You give the app access to your smartphone’s location data to help find the nearby Chromecast. (Wait, didn’t you just share your home address?)

4. You give the Google

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Google Pixel 4a receives auto-brightness and touch-sensitivity improvements via update

Google Pixel 4a receives auto-brightness and touch-sensitivity improvements via update

07 Oct 2020: Google Pixel 4a receives auto-brightness and touch-sensitivity improvements via update

Google has started rolling out a new update for the Pixel 4a, bringing a host of bug fixes and improvements to the recently-launched mid-ranger.

As per the changelog, the firmware improves the auto-rotation feature, auto-brightness response, and the touch sensitivity on the device.

It also addresses the issue in which devices get stuck during boot, and bumps the Android security patch to October 2020.

Fact: Details about the update

The update carries build number RP1A.201005.006 and is being rolled out in a phased manner via over-the-air method. Users will receive a notification once it becomes available on their device. To manually check the update, you can go to Settings >System Updates.

Design and Display: Google Pixel 4a: At a glance

As far as its specifications are

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Gansevoort Meatpacking Unveils Prime Upgrades With Google Home And The Mirror

The Meatpacking district’s most iconic hotel, Gansevoort Meatpacking, reveals a massive upgrade and collaboration with fellow neighbor, Google. In 2004, Manhattan’s chicest micro-neighborhood welcomed the first luxury hotel boasting both city skyline and Hudson River views. With a 24 hour rooftop pool and multiple dining options the sprawling premises soon became known as New York’s first “urban resort” led by father and son team William and Michael Achenbaum.

Now, with new restrictions in place, Gansevoort Meatpacking has undergone major overhauls to protocols and practices in all 186 rooms, 20 suites and, of course, the penthouse. All with the goal of enhancing safety procedures and maintaining their cutting edge status as the centerpiece of the neighborhood. New in-room dining options solidify the extra precautions while enticing diners safely and distanced. The first floor restaurant, The Chester, has updated dining procedures and separate menus for patio and, soon, indoor dining. The Chester

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Chromecast with Google TV review: Finally a worthy competitor to Roku and Fire TV

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The Chromecast with Google TV remote. 


David Katzmaier/CNET

Google’s TV ambitions have long been cloudy. In 2013, the company’s first Chromecast helped usher in an era of streaming televisions but did so by relying on your phone, tablet or computer to supply the apps and content. Android TV, which arrived in 2014, added an interface and TV-specific apps but never reached the same popularity level of rival streamers from Amazon, Roku and Apple. The all-new $50 Chromecast with Google TV is the search giant’s best TV effort yet and one of the best streamers you can buy, period.

Like

  • Useful remote
  • Large app selection, including HBO Max and Peacock
  • Makes excellent use of the Google Assistant
  • Ties in well with YouTube TV, Google Photos

Don’t Like

  • Can lag when switching apps or using voice.
  • Assistant doesn’t always give the best option to play back content

The new Chromecast is a

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Hands-On with Google Nest Audio

Announced last week during a virtual event alongside new Pixel handsets and the Chromecast with Google TV, Google Nest Audio is the new version of what used to be called Google Home, and it offers a more attractive form factor, better sound, and—go figure—lower pricing than its predecessor. I ordered a pair immediately, intrigued by Google’s ongoing efforts to take on and undercut Sonos.

The quick takeaway: Google Nest Audio is a nice advance over Google Home. But it’s no match for any Sonos speaker, including the identically-priced IKEA Symfonisk Wi-Fi Bookshelf Speaker. And Google still doesn’t offer a viable home theater setup with surround sound, while competitors like Amazon, Roku, and Sonos all do. I’m curious that it didn’t introduce such a system alongside the Chromecast with Google TV.

Anyway, Google Home was still ripe for a makeover, given that it is approaching its four-year anniversary next month. As

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Best smart home devices of 2020 that aren’t made by Amazon or Google

Google and Amazon dominate the smart home industry. Beyond Amazon’s expanding lineup of Echo smart speakers, the tech giant also owns home security brands Ring and Blinkand Wi-Fi router brand Eero. Smart thermostat maker Ecobee gets funding from Amazon. Google owns Nest and brought the company further under its control this year, rebranding most of its connected devices from “Google Home” to “Google Nest,” like the Google Nest Mini and the Google Nest Hub

Our current list of best smart home devices features 12 products; seven of them are Amazon or Google devices — or devices made by Amazon- or Google-owned (or funded) companies. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They’re all solid gadgets and we heartily recommend them. As much as Google and Amazon (the latter especially) deserve credit for bringing some much needed organization to the smart home category via

Read More Continue reading »
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