To hype up their onslaught of new products, Google opened a pop up store in Union Square this month. We stopped by to play with the upcoming Pixel 2, hear the new collection of connected speakers and get augmented with Stranger Things…
Pro tip: Bring a sweater. They keep these pop up stores cold to get you in and out quickly.
The Google Home Minis earn style points, and are perfect for smaller rooms. The speakers don’t get nearly loud enough for parties (the sound breaks up quite a bit at max volume anyway), but they cost almost nothing ($50) and you can group stream to them. For some homes these will be perfect.
To put some power behind your music the Google Home Max is a real Sonos competitor. You can max out its booming sound in a relatively sound-proof area of the store. Fair warning though: It won’t hear “OK Google, turn it down” once you’ve turned it up to 10.
It’s hard to imagine buying a Google Home now that the Home Mini is out. Sound quality on the Home is better but neither are suitable for serious listening or parties. The Home also has the touch controls the Home Mini lacks, but isn’t voice control kind of the whole idea?
The Pixel 2 looks fabulous as expected. The screen looks brilliant, the camera is a beast, but the demo mode in the pop up store is quite limited so we weren’t able to play with all of the features..
Sadly the product we were most excited to try (Pixel Buds) was failing to live translate in the room. Google employees ensured us translation is incredibly fast, but their inability to deliver in the moment did not instill a lot of confidence.
Pixelbook felt rock solid with its aluminum frame and beautiful screen that can flip into tablet mode. At $1,000 its value is questionable when compared to some Windows laptops, but for those wanting to live in Chrome OS its far and away their slickest offering yet.
The VR section offers a fun experience to swim among humpback whales or fly through real to-scale cities with Earth VR.
With a 1980’s living room set up you can experience augmented reality with the Stranger Things demo. The characters here are pretty basic but their movements are smooth and the potential for video games is massive.
All in all this is a way more fun shopping experience than traditional retail, and a quick way to get hands-on with all the latest Google has to offer. 110 Fifth Avenue. Be sure to stop by if you’re in the area!