Video: 17 questions for Google Home and Amazon Echo

Google Home Max is a $399 smart speaker that combines high-end audio features with its Google Home platform powered by Google Assistant.

I will have a complete review after the holidays but I thought it worthwhile to share some of my first impressions after using Home Max for a few hours.

Setup was a breeze

After unboxing the Home Max and connecting it to power, setup was done in the Google Home app on my iPhone X. The app automatically found the speaker and walked me through the setup process. A couple taps and a software update later, I was able to start talking with Google Assistant.

Four indicator lights are centered on the speaker, indicating volume level and when it has been triggered by the “Hey Google” or “OK Google” wake phrases.

Love the fabric front

(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

The fabric on the front of the Home Max is a look I really like from Google. Similar to the new Amazon Echo, it’s a more refined, less industrial look, and it blends in easily with typical home decor.

It’s… big

It’s hard to compare the Google Home Max’s size to any of Amazon’s Echo devices, or Apple’s HomePod. Measuring in at 13.2 x 7.4 x 6.0 inches and weighing 11.7 pounds, this is a smart speaker you need to make room for.

Thankfully, it can be placed horizontal or vertical, making it a bit easier to squeeze into a tight spot on your kitchen counter of an already full shelf.

Even the Alexa-equipped…