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TwinIon

Google Unveils Their New Hardware

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Google showed off a bunch of new hardware yesterday. Nearly everything had been leaked, but here it is:

 

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL - The smaller one has gigantic bezels, and while the XL looks much better, the hardware seems on par with phones like the LG V30 and HTC U11, and a step behind the Samsungs and the iPhone X. The camera will probably be the best around, but I'm frustrated by their other decisions. There's still no wireless charging, which I was hoping would make a comeback since Apple finally joined that party. It's IP67 water resistant which is better than nothing, but not up to par with the best. Then there's the annoyance of leaving out the headphone jack after mocking Apple for that decision last year.

 

Google Pixel Buds are Google's answer to the lack of a 3.5mm jack, and I'm actually interested in them. Apparently they support some kind of fast pairing with any Android N phone, and they have an in-ear shape that appeals to me more than the standard plugs you find in most earbuds. They're tethered, which I think is both good (I like taking them off and hanging them around my neck) and bad (more wires). I'm not sure I dig the styling, but they're not terrible looking. $159 is more than I'd want to pay, but not unreasonable if they work perfectly. The standout feature is realtime translation, but that only works with a Pixel (for some reason I don't understand) and is something I'm unlikely to use.

 

Home Mini and Home Max are Google's version of the Echo Dot and Sonos Play 5. The $50 mini makes a ton of sense and I think it'll do well. The Max is $400 and I'm not really the target audience for it, but I guess it's a simple enough addition to the Home lineup.

 

The Pixelbook is aspirational more than it likely is to be any kind of sales hit. It's a $1000 chromebook with an optional pen. By all accounts it's the very nice kind of hardware you should expect for $1K, and it has an instant tether (w/ pixel phones only) that I think is a good idea. I just can't really imagine who should spend the money on this thing. I think it kind of makes sense as an iPad Pro competitor, but only assuming android apps work perfectly and actually start to support the screen size.

 

Google Clips is the most bizarre and uniquely Google device they put out. The idea is that it's a camera that you clip to something or someone and it takes pictures for you. It uses machine learning to determine what photos or video clips it thinks are good and will push them to your phone. The idea is that you can be present in a moment and still capture the memories.

 

I think it's a fascinating idea that I'll absolutely not be purchasing, at least not for the $250 they're asking. If this does work I can imagine future versions of this thing getting really cheap, and then you could just put a few of them around for a kid's birthday party or something. Afterwards you go through the app and select the best moments from an already curated selection, without having to bother doing anything. To get there though, you'd have to really trust that it will do a good job; either that or not care much if it doesn't. Either way, it seems like you really have to trust Google to make this $250 camera worthwhile.

 

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Obviously Google is slowly working their way into becoming a premier hardware vendor for their software experiences. At this point I think it's safe to say that there's no chance of them selling this stuff en mass. The Pixel phones are probably great (I love my XL), but they're exclusively sold through Verizon (or unlocked), and we've yet to see if they'll actually make enough this time. The Clip is an experiment, and the Buds are too expensive to hit critical mass. The Pixelbook has a tiny addressable market, even if Chromebooks in general sell well. The Home Mini might sell well, but it'll be competing against the Echo Dot that goes on sale all the time and works with a much larger Amazon Ecosystem.

 

I'm personally going to wait another year to upgrade my Pixel. Maybe all those HTC engineers will help Google make a top tier product with fewer tradeoffs or maybe I'll go back to Apple or Samsung. 

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My Pixel has been the greatest phone I've ever touched.. but fuck them so hard for following along with Apples blunder and taking away the headphone jack, it's seriously enough of an issue with me that I'm going to have a really tough time finding a phone I can be happy with when upgrade time comes.

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Clips is cool but creepy and the live translation of the Pixel Buds is genuinely awesome (if it works as advertised), but everything else was underwhelming. I wish Google would go back to being Google instead of trying to be Apple Jr.

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I hope they stick with these devices until they learn how to build and sell them at a large scale. 

 

Also, I expect to see a bunch of angry blogs from pixelbook users who get their google account banned. 

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Those clips will be a huge hit in Japan!

 

They sound neat for vacations and stuff.

 

The rest... I dunno. No headphone jack is a no buy for me. No exceptions. If I'm at home I like to plug my big ass headphones into my phone and listen to podcasts or watch videos or whatever. I only use ear buds when walking, and since no ear bud ever designed has properly fit in my fucking ear, I will never ever want a wireless one that is easier to lose and also has to be charged. "More wires" is nothing compared to "more shit that I need to charge."

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The first reviews are coming in for the Pixel Buds and they're not good.

 

I didn't realize that they can only connect to one Android or iOS device at a time, and they won't connect at all to computers, even Chromebooks. If I'm spending $160 on wireless headphones, they need to work on the same devices I currently use my free wired headphones.

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