Help Me, Tom's Guide: Should I Get Amazon Echo or Google Home?

Amazon Echo or Google Home? These two nascent voice assistants are both trying to get their virtual feet in the door of your home, and many consumers--our readers among them--are trying to decide which is best.

ThursdayFridaySaturday writes:

My partner and I are discussing which one to get. They have an Amazon Prime Account so the reason they want the Echo is not only because of the discount, but most of their music and content is also worked through Amazon.

First, let me clarify one thing: the $129 Google Home supports only a single account per device, so you wouldn't be able to switch between yours and your partner's Google account on a single Google Home. (There is a Guest mode, but that's not quite the same). Nevertheless, Google Home is still a great device; whether you go with it or the Echo comes down to how you're planning to use it.

If you have, or plan to control, a lot of smart-home devices, such as lights, locks, thermostats and more, Alexa and the $179 Amazon Echo are your best bet. The Echo currently works with a much wider range of smart-home devices than Google Home, though the latter is catching up.

Considering your partner has an Amazon Prime membership, getting the Echo may make more sense, as you can take advantage of a number of things, such as streaming music from Amazon Music Unlimited and making purchases online.

Google Home's search engine is more robust than Alexa's, as the former taps into Google to get answers to just about anything. You can also use it to look up nearby businesses and make reservations. Also, if you have a Chromecast device — or Chromecast-enabled TV — you can tell Google Home to start streaming audio or video using nothing but your voice.

You can also customize the look of your Google Home; its base can be swapped out for one of six different colors, each of which cost $20.

Despite these advantages for Google Home, the Amazon Echo looks like the best choice for your needs, as it will let you take fuller advantage of your partner's Prime account. Check out our in-depth head-to-head between the Amazon Echo and Google Home for additional comparisons.

Photo credit: Tom's Guide

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Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.

  • jacksmith21006
    Have zero clue why Google Home (GH) is even compared to the Echo. We had the Echo since it launched and now several GHs. The Echo has commands that you memorize. The GH has no commands and you talk to it like you would a human.

    So for example the Echo has the command "Song goes like ..." so I would would do a quick Google search because I could rarely remember how it went but knew other stuff. Then with the song name ask Alexa. With the GH you skip the search step. You just ask with whatever you have and the Google inference is amazing. Well like search.

    But it is the human touches with the GH that gets me. Started asking GH something and say "I forgot" and shes saids "no worries happens to me all the time". But then another time I say "nevermind" and she saids "yes, lets move forward". It is amazing and assume it learned how to do this by Google crawling the web all these years for their search engine.

    The two devices are NOT alike and drives me crazy when people compared.
  • Clayton_16
    …. The Echo currently works with a much wider range of smart-home devices than Google Home…

    My Google Home (4 of them) are all integrated into my home automation SmartThing hub and have access to all my Home automation devices. GH works with IFTT to expand even more options. So I’m not sure if the comment means direct control of device with no intermediary. For me I like an intermediary device since it allows me a clean and powerful interface to home automation. So from my GH I can say commands such as

    ‘Ok Google turn on night mode’ – This causes GH to shut off all my lights, close my garage doors, Turn off my TV and various Sonos player

    ‘Ok google turn off/on device’ Any device I have hooked up to SmartThing is turned on or off. With some having additional volume or dimming capability.

    All in all, I have found GH to be a very good voice command interface to my home automation
  • You're 1000% off base. The GH is infinitely better as it's not a vehicle to drive Amazon sales! I had both and the GH is easier to use, is contextual, and is backed up by the power of Google which is more powerful then the sales driven model of the Echo. More times then not when I'm trying to get information about something GH is stellar and rarely misses a beat, while the Echo ends of trying to buy stuff off Amazon.
  • Mprice33
    Here's a thought. The Echo Dot is $49 and can work by itself or plugged into amother speaker system. It also supports Bluetooth. We plugged the Echo Dot into our Home Theater system and dedicated 2 of the 7 speakers to it.

    I enabled Alexa's Bluetooth to my Samsung phone and now Alexa and Google can both answer our question though the same system. At this point in time Alexa has the edge with Home Automation but I believe Google has the best long term prospects in the voice assistant space due to a better search engine.

    We will probably get GH too once the price drops to Echo Dot's territory.
  • ThursdayFridaySaturday
    Whoa, my question got picked, that's awesome!
  • The Echo's been around for longer, and it's technically the stronger home-automaton of the two. But, the Google Home is going to get there eventually. I think at this point it just really depends on how immersed you are in Amazon services more than anything else.
  • Graybush
    I got the Amazon Echo when they first started out, I've been pretty happy with it so far, even with it's flaws.