Review of the Google Home Max Smart Speaker

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The Google Home Max is the most recently released device that features Google AI. It has the exact same Google assistant functionalities as its two less-expensive counterparts, the Google Home and the Google Home Mini. Sound quality is one of the characteristics that set the Max apart from the other two devices. It is also significantly more expensive, coming in at a $400 price range in comparison to the Google Home which is $130 and the Mini, which is only $50. So, is the Max worth the additional expense? Let’s evaluate this product and find out.

Design

The Max is much larger than the standard Home and Mini. It is heavy, sturdy, and well-made. It only comes in two colors, black or gray. These color choices are fine for the standard Home and Mini because they are small and inconspicuous. But for a device this large, it feels a bit institutional and plain. The speaker can sit vertically or horizontally, making it easy to find appropriate placement for it in a room. It has a small rubber pad that sits underneath it to deter rattling. There are no threads to mount the speakers on a stand or wall, which may be a deal breaker for some people. It has one audio input and a USBC jack. It has easy touch controls, and obviously it is voice activated as well.

Quality

As previously stated, the Max can do everything that its smaller counterparts can do. The primary feature of the Max is the enhanced sound quality. Without question, it produces a much richer audio experience than the other two Google Home devices. But is it worth $400? It depends on your priorities. The Max is designed for audiophiles. It has a very high volume capacity, but tends to distort sound at around 75% volume level. It can get remarkably loud, so there is likely no reason to ever have it up to 100%.

One unique feature of the Google Home Max is its microphones. Even when music is playing quite loud, the mics can recognize your voice and follow commands. It also features “smart sound” technology, which allows it to adjust itself to the room.

Comparison

The Google Home Max is far superior to current Amazon devices on the market. However, it was not intended to compete with Amazon products. The Max was created to go up against Sonos Play 3 and 5. It falls a little short of reaching Sonos sound quality, but it is close. The Google Max has better AI capabilities than Sonos at this point. However, the sound quality is probably the most important characteristic of smart speaker products and Sonos wins that battle.

User Friendly

Like most gadgets in the Google ecosystem, the Max is very easy to set up and use. Simply download the app and follow the prompts. You can also control some of the speaker settings, like base, etc.

So, does the Max warrant its $400 price tag? If you just want an intelligent device, there are cheaper gadgets with the same smart technology. If sound quality is your priority, less-expensive speakers are available that provide similar or better audio quality. However, if you want great sound in combination with incredible smart technology, Google Max is the best option.

 

5 High-Tech Gift Ideas for Seniors

 

When you imagine gifts for seniors, your first inclination is probably not a high-tech gadget. However, there are a number of devices that can make a meaningful difference in the lives of aged individuals. Technology has far surpassed the days of simple cell phones with giant buttons for older adults. The products available today include cutting-edge technologies that are truly useful. Here are a few great high-tech gift ideas for the seniors in your life.

Digital Personal Assistant – AI

These voice activated devices are equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) technology. They can help with reminders, answering questions, controlling household items, playing games, and so much more. In some cases, they even act as a sort of digital companion, providing conversation and preventing loneliness. The three most popular personal assistants are:

  • Amazon Echo Alexa – There are several devices that incorporate this AI. It is directly attached to a person’s Amazon account, making online shopping very simple. It is not the most conversational device, but is great for people who use Amazon’s services.

Tech Gift Ideas for Seniors

  • Google Assistant – There are three devices at various price points that utilize Google’s AI. This is the most conversational personal assistant and works with Google’s services. The app to control this device must be installed in a phone or tablet, unlike the Amazon products, which are “stand alone” devices.

Tech Gift Ideas for Seniors

  • Siri – This personal assistant is only available on Apple products. It is the most limited of all the AIs. However, if your loved one is an avid Apple user, Siri does have some interesting features.

Smart Home Devices

Many smart home devices are integrated with digital personal assistants. This allows an individual to voice-activate devices for the home. A person with mobility or vision problems may have difficulty performing tasks like adjusting the thermostat or lights. With voice activation, a person can simply speak a command, and the device will comply. For example, you could say, “turn the heat up to 74°” which would trigger the smart thermostat to adjust the temperature. Smart home gadgets require some mildly complex initial setup procedures. You will probably need a tech-savvy person to get everything ready for your loved one to begin using these products.  

Tile Tracker

These little gadgets are perfect for anyone who tends to lose important items. Simply place one of these tiles in or on an object and use your phone to locate it. You can stick it on a set of keys or slide it into a wallet. They are small, inconspicuous tiles that are easy to use.

Digital Photo Frame

Load a digital photo frame with pictures of grandchildren and relatives. You can update and change the photos over time, keeping your loved one up-to-date on the latest family pictures. This gift is a favorite among grandparents.

E-book Reader

We no longer need to haul around big bulky books. The avid reader in your life can simply download a book and read it on their e-book device. The most popular e-reader is the Amazon Kindle. The Nook by Barnes & Noble is another commonly used device. They are both similar in functionality. It’s simply a matter of whether you prefer to purchase your books from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. E-readers can be especially good for seniors with vision issues including macular degeneration as the print size can be enlarged significantly. Most public libraries now offer a wide variety of e-books that can be easily downloaded onto the e-reader.

 

 Tech gifts are not just for young people. Adults of all ages can benefit from innovative devices. Consider a high-tech gift this holiday season when you’re shopping for the seniors in your life.

 

Hearing Aids Technology – 2017 Top 3 Innovations

Hearing Aids TechnologyMany elderly people experience varying degrees of hearing loss. While traditional hearing aids have offered some assistance, they have many faults and have left users unsatisfied or unwilling to continue use. Leading hearing aid companies are working to create innovative solutions. Here are the top three innovations in hearing aids for 2017.

Adjustment
one of the issues people encounter with hearing aids is the lack of adjustment options. Most hearing aids are designed for one fixed environment. Specific hearing aids also work best for people in different stages of hearing loss. This means individuals often need to upgrade or purchase new hearing aids as they are hearing loss progresses. Users may also find themselves buying different hearing aids for various environmental situations. This becomes costly and is sometimes simply impossible for people to manage. Luckily, a company called Unitron recently developed hearing aids that are adjustable to any environment and change with the user’s needs.

Size
RIC (receiver in canal) hearing aids are generally known to be the most effective. However, they are too large for users with smaller ear canals. This forced many people to choose ITE (in the ear) hearing aids. Now, manufacturers have developed tiny RIC devices so everyone can experience the highest quality of sound regardless of their ear canal size.

Sound Focus
hearing aids typically cancel background noise to focus on a single voice for one-on-one conversations. This is great. However, it makes group conversations difficult for those with hearing loss. When focusing on one voice, others in the group are canceled out as background noise. Oticon has created a solution. Their new hearing aids focus on groups while canceling out background noise. The ability to determine the difference between background sound and group voices is a much-needed innovation.

The hearing aids industry is constantly working to improve their products to deliver solutions for those with hearing loss. This is particularly useful for seniors because so many suffer from hearing loss.

Visually Impaired Seniors Benefit from Innovative Electronic Glasses

Many people living in senior housing communities are visually impaired. Macular Degeneration and other eye disorders heavily impact aging individuals. There are a number of Low vision aids that make life a little easier, but nothing is quite as advanced as the E-sight glasses. This innovative product provides a new level of independence for the visually impaired.

How they work
These glasses are called “electronic glasses.” Two small digital screens rest in front of the eyes. A tiny camera between the eyes captures video and feeds it into the screens. The user can magnify the image up to 23 times, change the contrast and color.

Unique characteristics
E- sight is the first device of its kind. Because it is wearable, the user can walk around with the glasses on for assistance in nearly every aspect of life. They are great for distance viewing. For example, reading street signs and navigating while on a walk. They can also be used for close viewing, like reading a book and watching television.

Intended users
Anyone with severe vision loss may be a candidate for these glasses. It is recommended to contact the company for a demonstration before purchasing. Because vision loss is so unique to each person, not everyone will benefit from this type of device. There are a few different models and the price ranges from $10,000-$15,000. The newest version is smaller and less expensive. However, most aging people find the older version easier to use because the controls are larger and simplified. These glasses would not be great for an elderly person with dementia or other mental impairments. They are not simple to use and will take time for anyone to master.

See the video below for more information