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Google Launch Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Home Mini and Max Speakers, Pixel Buds Earphones and Pixelbook Laptop

Smart new gear

by Mark Hodgkinson Oct 5, 2017 at 9:08 AM


  • Google has announced a pair of new smartphones – the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL – two updated voice activated, ‘Smart’ speakers in the Google Home Mini and Max along with their Pixel Buds, which are smart earphones, and a powerful new Chromebook dubbed the Pixelbook.
    The Pixel 2 leans heavy on the idea of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and comes in two sizes. There’s the 5-inch Pixel 2 which comes in Just Black, Clearly White and Kinda Blue. Both phones feature an OLED display with the Pixel 2 XL featuring a 6-inch, 18:9 ratio screen. The 2 XL comes in Just Black and Black & White.

    Both phones are powered by Android 8.0 Oreo and come with an always-on display which lets you see notifications at a glance on Pixel’s screen without having to touch the power button. The new Now Playing feature, exclusive to Pixel, shows you what song is playing around you. With your permission it matches music to a database of thousands of songs that’s stored on your device, without sending any information to Google.

    Alongside Pixel, Google is launching new cases and accessories. That includes ‘customisable’ Google Live Cases, and a range of other cases, cables, headphones and more from over 25 partners in the “made for Google” programme. The "made for" products will feature a badge on the packaging so you know they've been certified to meet Google's compatibility standards.

    Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are available for pre-order at £629 for the 64GB Pixel 2; you can add £100 on if you want the 256GB version. The Pixel 2 XL starts at £799 with, again, a £100 premium for 256GB of internal storage.

    The Google Home Mini smart speaker is clearly the company’s answer to the Amazon Echo Dot and it has no corners or edges, and is about the size of a doughnut. The LEDs under the fabric light up to show you when your Assistant hears you and it projects 360-degree sound, while containing far-field microphones, so that the Mini can hear you, even when there’s music playing or there’s other noise in the background. The Mini comes in three colours – Chalk, Charcoal and Coral and is priced at £49.

    The Google Home Max is obviously the bigger version and features dual 4.5-inch high-excursion woofers so you should get good bass performance from it. In fact, according to Google, it’s 20 times more powerful than the original Google Home.

    Max is the company’s first speaker with Smart Sound, a new audio experience powered by Google’s artificial intelligence. It’s what allows Max to adapt to you – your environment, your context, and your preferences. Smart Sound automatically adjusts for where you place Max in a room, so if you decide to move your speaker a few feet, it will dynamically tune itself within seconds.

    Max works with a range of music services, including Spotify, TuneIn and Google Play Music, of course, and supports Bluetooth but there’s a 3.5mm auxiliary port to connect to as well. The Max can be placed vertically or horizontally and comes in two colours – Chalk and Charcoal – but it isn’t currently available in the UK. If, and when, it does arrive, we expect pricing to be around £399.

    Google Pixel Buds are the company’s assault on the earphone market. These wireless headphones offer help from the Google Assistant, and have a few extra features so you can get the answers you need while keeping your eyes up. Google has put all the audio controls into a touchpad on the right earbud, so there aren’t any buttons hanging on the cord. Just swipe forward or backward to control volume and tap to play or pause your music. Charging and storing them is neat – they sit in a pocket-sized charging case that gives you up to 24 hours of listening time. Pairing them also sounds super easy – just open the charging case near your Pixel or Android phone running Android 7.0 Nougat or higher with the Assistant, and your phone will automatically detect them and ask you if you want to connect.

    The Babel fish idea from The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books also becomes a reality as the Pixel Buds can even translate between languages in real time using Google Translate. They come in three colours – Just Black, Clearly White and Kinda Blu to match the Pixel 2 and will be available in November in the UK with pre-orders now open at £159.

    Finally, Google announced the Pixelbook which is the company’s thinnest and lightest Chromebook (laptop) to date. It’s just 10.3mm thin and weighs in at 1.1 kilograms. It has a 4-in-1 design, so you can use it as a laptop, you can fold the keyboard underneath to watch your favourite show, read a book or take notes in tablet mode when you’re on the go, or prop it into tent mode as you follow along with a recipe in the kitchen, for example.

    There’s a 12.3-inch, 2400x1600 Quad HD touchscreen and it’s the first laptop to have Google Assistant built-in. Specs wise, there’s options of either 8GB or 16GB of RAM and choices of 7th Gen Intel i5 or i7 processors. Pricing starts at £999 for the 8GB of RAM, the 128GB SSD and i5 processor. You can add £200 for the 256GB storage version while the top-of-the range, 16GB RAM, i7 and 512GB of storage model will set you back a whopping £1,699.

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