No Surprises at Google Product Launch

Posted on October 4, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, Mobile, Music + Videos with 52 Comments

No Surprises at Google Product Launch

As expected, Google launched its new Pixel phones, Daydream VR, Chromecast Ultra, Google Wi-Fi, and Google Home products at a press conference today. But as noted previously, details about each had previously leaked.

I had hoped to see Google discuss the future of its Android and Chrome OS platforms and the expected merger of both into a more coherent, single platform. But I guess that will have to wait. So here’s a quick rundown of what was announced, with the most important info we were missing: Pricing and availability.

Pixel

As expected, Google is replacing its Nexus lineup of smartphones with a new Pixel-branded lineup, but they map very closely to last year’s devices. The 5-inch Pixel starts at $649, which is about $200 more than I’d like to see, and comparable 5.5-inch Pixel handsets will carry a $120 premium.

There are three color options, each with a terrible name—Very Silver, Quite Black, and Really Blue (which is a limited edition)—and two storage configurations, 32 GB and 128 GB (which adds $100 to the price). So… a maxed out Pixel XL will set you back $869. Yikes.

The good news? You can get two-year, 0% APR financing from Google directly, or via Project Fi. Cases are coming, but they’re not available yet.

I’ve ordered a 32 GB Pixel XL and it is set for a late October delivery. Based on past Nexus experiences, I suspect you’re looking at November, at the earliest, by the time you read this.

Daydream VR

Google’s mobile and easy-to-use VR solution looks like a more elegant version of Cardboard, but it also comes with an Apple TV-like controller that should make it far more interactive. Pricing is reasonable at $79 but availability is unclear. Right now there is a waiting list. Which I am on: I’ll be getting one.

Chromecast Ultra

As promised, Chromecast Ultra will deliver 4K/HDR streaming capabilities for just $69. The bad news? There’s a waiting list. The good news? Google Play Movies & TV is adding 4K content in November. (Yes, I’m on this waiting list too. I can’t wait to snag one of these.)

Google Wi-Fi

Google’s new Wi-Fi router system costs just $129, which is reasonable, or $299 for a three-pack that should cover most homes effectively. That’s interesting, but as with many of the other products, there’s a waiting list. I will not be getting one of these.

Google Home

Google Home costs just $129 and is available for order now, with the first units arriving in November. (I did order one.) You can also try and match your home decor with one of several colored bases, which start at $29 but are not available for order yet.

 

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44 Comments
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  1. 3 | Reply
    EnterMegatron99 Alpha Member #189 - 1 month ago

    I was interested until the price...

    1. 0 | Reply
      lightbody Alpha Member #2190 - 1 month ago
      In reply to EnterMegatron99:

      Same here.  My 32GB Nexus 5 was in some ways flagship level when it came out (CPU, display, OS) and cost, I think, £329 plus postage.  I bought it because I wanted "pure Google" but didn't mind the ways in which it had cut corners.

      THREE years on, its successor is very nearly DOUBLE that price, although it has less compromises (although the battery looks pretty rubbish).

      The idea of Nexus was to bring "pure Google" to the people (and to developers).  Now theyr'e just taking it to the daft iPhone owners who spend too much on phones.

      I held off buying a Oneplus 3 until I saw the Google phones - now I'll be going to get one.

    2. -1 | Reply
      IronCondor Alpha Member #1246 - 1 month ago
      In reply to EnterMegatron99:

      Really? Every cell phone carrier is going to the same model. It is not expensive in the long run. Pay the monthly fee and own a great phone. Way more innovative than a company that simple makes screen size changes.

  2. 2 | Reply
    jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago

    I'm curious why you are dismissive of the WiFi, to me that is the most intersting of the announcements. Home will be comparable to Echo and everything else is an improvement on existing products. I know Brad was having WiFi issues when trying to settle on a router a few months ago, maybe we will get a review of it from him.

    1. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      In reply to jr.flynn:

      I can't help but wonder why WDS WiFi is considered new.  Not only that, but people that've had issues with connectivity have probably already been using WDS-connected access points or PowerLine gear.

    2. 0 | Reply
      Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago
      In reply to jr.flynn:

      Mesh network WiFi is nothing new.  There's a ton of new devices that hit the market for home this year, and of course it's been around much longer than that.

    3. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Narg:

      Agreed this isn't a new idea but frankly I haven't been impressed with the implementations that have come before. While I am techinical enough to set up one of the existing products, they aren't exactly plug and play ready for the technologically impaired. A simple solution that could be easily implemented is desparately needed.

    4. 0 | Reply
      Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago
      In reply to jr.flynn:

      Here's a cheaper setup to Google's that I've tested and is pretty darn easy and works well.  https://amplifi.com/ 

    5. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Narg:

      I love Ubiquiti, presently use UniFi in my home but the setup was far from simple. Granted it is rock solid and once configured I have had zero issues. If the AmpliFi series has streamlined the initial configuration while still allowing for the advanced featureset of the UniFi, I would definately be interested in using that in my new house.

    6. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      In reply to jr.flynn:

      Ubiquiti is overpriced.  All of this new "mesh network" nonsense is just "WDS for dummies".

    7. 1 | Reply
      Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Waethorn:

      You can get a single Ubiquiti AP for around $60.  Hard to call that overpriced.  I use them in businesses.  Great devices and darn cheap these days.  But a bit too geeky for an average home user though.

    8. 1 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Waethorn:

      I won't deny that Ubiquiti is expensive but in my experience the durability of their products has made the additional cost worthwhile (for me). Your other point I would argue is exactly what is needed for mass adoption. I could never suggest Ubiquiti to friends or family because the setup is complicated and I'm not trying to setup and support all those people. If this turns out to be 'WDS for dummies' then I would be happy to finally have a solution to offer up.

  3. 2 | Reply
    ponsaelius Alpha Member #1328 - 1 month ago

    Apple used to be the most expensive mobile phone you can buy. The price seems huge. Just looked at the UK price - about twice as much as a Lumia 950, OnePlus 3, and Nexus 6p (on Ebay today).

    Amazingly high.

    1. 0 | Reply
      lightbody Alpha Member #2190 - 1 month ago
      In reply to ponsaelius:

      Yes.  It makes no sense.  

  4. 1 | Reply
    Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago

    Yep, priced a bit too high.  They should have undercut Apple by at least $100 per device type.  Also, still no wireless charging.  But hey, it's got a headphone jack!  Eh-hem....   I will say the VR, Chromecast ultra and Google Home things look very nice.  Google seems to be understanding the truly connected home a bit better than others right now.  Should be interesting to see the involvement from 3rd party going forward.

    1. 1 | Reply
      Vuppe Alpha Member #1076 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Narg:

      Yeah, I find it funny they were quick to point out there's no camera bump and there is a headphone jack...but that makes the phone a lot thicker than the iPhone 7. With the same cost as the iPhone and a lackluster design it's not interesting. I agree completely about the price cut making the device appealing.

    2. 0 | Reply
      Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Vuppe:

      The 0.4mm thicker doesn't mean much to me, other than it will have a larger battery.  Something I think Apple should consider rather than removing wanted features for larger batteries.

    3. 1 | Reply
      bassoprofundo Alpha Member #408 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Narg:

      So bummed about the lack of wireless charging...  I don't know why someone besides Samsung can't put all of the pieces together from a feature perspective.  I was seriously considering picking one up vs a (non-exploding) Note 7, but to gain the purest "Google" experience, I'd be losing a lot in the way of functionality (wireless charging, waterproofing, SD support, Samsung Pay, S-Pen).  I realize these are first-world problems, but if you're going to charge a first-world price, you need to deliver on all fronts.

    4. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Narg:

      I wish the Home had built in Z-wave support, that would assist home automation customers that had started down that path without the need for a secondary controller.

    5. -1 | Reply
      dcdevito Alpha Member #220 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Narg:

      Meh - we'll see how "open" Home really is

  5. 1 | Reply
    dcdevito Alpha Member #220 - 1 month ago

    What an epic failure for the Pixel. Priced WAY too high, it will fall flat on its face when compared to the iPhone and the Note 7. 

     

    I ordered a OnePlus 3 and don't regret it. I had a feeling today was going to be a total letdown.

    1. 0 | Reply
      lightbody Alpha Member #2190 - 1 month ago
      In reply to dcdevito:

      I'm ordering a OnePlus 3 today too I think.  I held off to see the Pixels.  I rather think OnePlus might be swamped with orders today!

    2. 0 | Reply
      dcdevito Alpha Member #220 - 1 month ago
      In reply to lightbody:

      Yeah OnePlus sure had a great day :)

  6. 1 | Reply
    rancoras Alpha Member #1321 - 1 month ago

    I just got an email from the OnHub team that says the new product will work with OnHub. That's pretty sweet.

    From the email:
    OnHub is getting a friend
    We love things that simply work together, so we built Google Wifi to work seamlessly with your OnHub.

    1. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago
      In reply to rancoras:

      I hope Paul sees this as he posed this exact question on the podcast.

  7. 0 | Reply
    earlster Alpha Member #2475 - 1 month ago

    Wow, that is one pedestrian looking phone. Looks like a cheap $50 throw away phone. And there is no info about the screen resolution on the google site.

    1. 0 | Reply
      lightbody Alpha Member #2190 - 1 month ago
      In reply to earlster:

      It's says FHD. Full HD.

    2. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      In reply to lightbody:

      ....for the Pixel.  Pixel XL is Quad-HD (1440p resolution).

    3. 0 | Reply
      Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Waethorn:

      The "labelling" of resolutions is getting worse and worse.  Most consider 1080 to be HD, and in no way does that make 1440 "quad".  Math skills folks.  Just say it's 1440 and get on with it.

  8. 0 | Reply
    IronCondor Alpha Member #1246 - 1 month ago

    It is not clear on their site if the unlocked phone will work on ATT's network. Has anyone used ProjectFi?

    1. 0 | Reply
      dcdevito Alpha Member #220 - 1 month ago
      In reply to IronCondor:

      Yes, it'll run on any US network

  9. 0 | Reply
    lightbody Alpha Member #2190 - 1 month ago

    I'm so disappointed at the price.

    I was a big fan of nexus devices but they've just left me behind with this.  In the UK, with the exchange rate, it's out of the question. One plus 3 looking good at half the price.

    The battery looks like it could be inadequate too.

  10. 0 | Reply
    AnthonyE1778 Alpha Member #411 - 1 month ago

    Does anybody know if the Pixel devices will be available directlyy from carriers? I'm a T-Mobile customer and while I would be willing, I would rather not pay $700+ for a handset right off the bat.

    1. 0 | Reply
      AnthonyE1778 Alpha Member #411 - 1 month ago
      In reply to AnthonyE1778:

      NVM. Idiots made it exclusive to Verizon. Oh well, maybe Pixel 2... I'm quite happy with the handset I have now, regardless.

    2. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      In reply to AnthonyE1778:

      Buy it from Google, use it on T-Mobile....if it works.  They said it was exclusively offered through Verizon in the US, but you could buy it from Google's own online store too.

  11. 0 | Reply
    wunderbar Alpha Member #290 - 1 month ago

    I would have already ordered a Google Home if it was available in Canada.

     

    What I'm most interested in out of this are things we won't find out about today: what parts of the software things google announced are part of Android 7.1 proper, and what will be exclusive to the Pixel phones.  I'm super happy with my 6P and wont' be replacing it, so I'm really interested to see how much of the new stuff will actually make it down to my device.

  12. 0 | Reply
    ben55124 Alpha Member #1468 - 1 month ago

    Not sure who the target market is for the Pixel phones.  They offer nothing new for mainstream iPhone/Galaxy customers.  Developers who need the latest android release can stick with 2015 Nexi for another year.  Value customers have compelling $400 and less options.

    At Pixel prices I would have at least expected better water resistence.  IP53.

    1. 0 | Reply
      maethorechannen Alpha Member #377 - 1 month ago
      In reply to ben55124:

      The target market? People who want a flagship class Android device that doesn't explode.

      Joking aside, I think it's aimed squarely at people who buy Galaxy S devices.

    2. 0 | Reply
      wolters Alpha Member #390 - 1 month ago
      In reply to maethorechannen:

      I can agree with that as I am a happy Note 7 (replaced model) owner but tempted by this, especially since I can get it via Verizon (work pays for phone needs.) I honestly do like the function of the S-Pen and while I have gone to Arrow Launcher, pure Android with regular updates are appealing. 

    3. 0 | Reply
      lightbody Alpha Member #2190 - 1 month ago
      In reply to ben55124:

      I think its fine that they're going after Galaxy S/iPhone owners, but they've left the Nexus people behind.

      Don't they have room to do "pure Google" further down the price table than this?  Seems a shame, I think they're making a mistake.

    4. 0 | Reply
      dcdevito Alpha Member #220 - 1 month ago
      In reply to ben55124:

      It's fine if you go after iPhone and Galaxy and Note customers, but thre's no way they can compete. Stock Android plus the nice little add-ons they showed off won't be enough to sway people away from Apple/Samsung. Even their hardcore fan base will reject these. These won't sell, it's a failure all around

  13. 0 | Reply
    JerryH Alpha Member #248 - 1 month ago

    Ordered a Pixel XL for me, and my wife ordered one too. I grabbed two of the Google Home units as well - they should nicely replace my original Echo and Echo Dot. The Google Home ones have more functionality as they will add voice command to control all of our Chromecast audio and Chromecast devices (which will be great). Have to see how the Google Home does with multiple accounts though. They (meaning all of the vendors) always screw this up. With four people in the house all with an Android phone and their own Google accounts - I wonder how this one will do? (Amazon Echo never really handled it well). When I say "add a router to my shopping list" where will it go? In the demo it looked like it wen to Google Keep (which is where I have my list now and it is shared with the family). I am interested to play with how these gizmos will work in a real house with multiple users and accounts...

    1. 0 | Reply
      brianforllp Alpha Member #2206 - 1 month ago
      In reply to JerryH:

      Multiple accounts is a big thing to me, too. My wife and I are jumping the WP ship to Android. It is likely we'll be getting a Pixel version for both of us. If we get home and I ask it to do something from my pictures/videos/etc. Am i going to get my pictures or her pictures etc. She does not use any other services besides netflix etc. So I'm not worried there... but in the future that could change. Google Home has to handle multiple accounts and even, perhaps, have some sort of pass code gate keeping on some content.

      Bottom line, I want all the things presented today. The question is how much has the price kept me from doing that. I probably won't get a 128 version of the phones.... those things are expensive. I will definitely pickup the WiFi offering as I was close to going ubitquiti (spellcheck) anyway. Google Home looks cool. I may get one for my office... but for me to really go all in, the multi account thing must be tested. The VR stuff is just meh to me.

      I do wish there was a 5x style pixel phone to go along. Lower cost, lower spec's, hit that mid-market itch. I'd like to get my sons a pixel phone, but at that price they'll stick with their Kindle Fires.

    2. 0 | Reply
      lightbody Alpha Member #2190 - 1 month ago
      In reply to brianforllp:

      Yes exactly.  The price is stopping me getting a Pixel, which in turn is stopping me being so excited about all the latest Google stuff.  The mid-price budget flagship Nexus range was crucial for that.  I had a 4, 5 and original 7 and loved them all.