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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Google Home and Compatible Devices on a Budget - Review

I've had my Google Home original model for a few months now, when I was first thinking about purchasing my Google Home, I thought, ok the unit itself looks great and will no doubt get better as Google add to it's features and abilities. The Home purchase was an easy decision, it's one unit it works as described, it's very handy alone. I've dreamt of getting into Home Automation for many years, the cost was prohibitive or on the other hand it meant running a stand alone Linux based computer with a fair bit of configuration and the devices you still need was still an issue price wise.

Google Home Original

Along comes Amazon's Alexa devices, as Amazon wasn't in Australia the time and you had to purchase all devices from overseas it put me off the Amazon devices for that reason alone. I waited for the Google devices as I am in that ecosystem anyway, so it was the obvious choice considering Amazon had totally disregarded Australia. Anyway I waited until the first discounted prices started to appear for the genuine Australian model with our Aussie plug standard without having to buy an adaptor. I did think to myself I need to at least get a few compatible devices that could be operated by voice through the Google Home, I wanted to make a start on my Smart Home future right off the bat.

Google Home Mini

I basically spent about $500 at the start including the Google Home, I also bought two LIFX colour LED Globes, I waited for those to be discounted as well, any discount was a bonus, for the globes I also bought two very cheap but acceptable Floor Lamps, two for about $30, as I have fairly archaic light fittings in my rented premises I felt it was the best option, plus the fittings in my rental are enclosed with covers that don't really allow air flow to dissipate heat, not that LEDs generate much heat at all, but lamps are movable so they can be placed anywhere you want, rather than be constrained by 1970s electrical fitters that placed them where they thought light fittings should be placed. LIFX have many different types of globes now, I bought the A19 globes x2 and I now have 1 x LIFX Mini Colour Globe donated by a friend for some help I had given him to set these bad boys up. I'll just ad an image of the A19 globes I bought first. I was also very fortunate to score a Google Mini from a good online friend from Western Australia who had purchased the recent two for one deal, thanks M ;)

LIFX A19 LED

The next device/s I wanted was Smart Plugs so I would have the ability to control electrical appliances, for example fans and my Receiver/Amp, I chose the TP-Link brand of Smart Plugs, well I really didn't have much choice, they were the only plugs I could purchase that were legit Australian certified and compatible, the Belkin Wemo Smart Plugs were not available when I was looking and they don't seem to be available still, so TP-Link's it was, they're great they work exactly as described, all voice activated and compatible with Google Home.

TP-Link HS-100

I already had a Google Chromecast first generation HDMI "dongle", which I was already using often to access Netflix and Stan Video Streaming that I controlled with either my Android tablet or Mobile phone, I was looking forward to controlling them by voice with my new Google Home and what a pleasure it is.

1st Gen Chromecast


I also waited for the Chromecast Audio to go on sale, so I could play music from Google Play Music that I had uploaded, the CA was connected to my Receiver/Amp, of course you can also play music through the Google Home, but when you really want to get jiggy with it you can't beat running your music streaming through an Amplifier, but make no mistake the Google Home has decent sound for the size that it is.

Chromecast Audio


My next purchase has been the Broadlink RM3 Black Bean Mini, these are made in China and don't seem to have a Australian Distributor so generally you're going to have it shipped from China, I will link to where I bought it from on Ebay, many people are selling them so the link is more so to show a picture of what it is and an approximate price you will pay, they can be had for a cheaper price but just under $27 was fine by me and I wanted it when I wanted it, I could not be bothered waiting to save $5.

Broadlink Black Bean

I received my Broadlink RM3 mini Black Bean "remote", I had a little difficulty setting it up but was just minor things where I was on the wrong track. eg. it didn't like my 64 character wifi key (I don't have special characters just 64 letters and numbers) anyway I got around that by creating a guest network with a simpler password.

Then I just couldn't get the Broadlink Black Bean device to link with Google Home the app just kept booting me out back to login details, after a lot of head scratching I tried linking it through "Google assistant" on my Android Mobile and it linked straight away and of course it showed up in the Google Home app after that. I have no idea why it wouldn't link via the google home app, but que sera it linked and without that I was going nowhere.

I can now control my Aircon, Receiver/Amp and TV by voice from Google Home. I'm using the Broadlink IHC app to set the parameters and commands, very easy once you give it a go. Basically the one I got the Broadlink Black Bean, can control IR, Infrared signals, luckily that's all I needed, it's big brother can control IR and RF, for the price of these things compared to say Logitech Harmony hubs, they are effing great.

To tell you the truth I didn't want to spend to much as technology goes so quickly, I'm sure my Pana Plasma must be getting close to the end of it's life so a new TV might have voice activation for it's functions anyway, but the Black Bean will still work great with my amp and Aircon.

This is where I got my Black Bean from and I paid a little more for it, but it came quite quickly and when I ask a couple of questions the seller answered quickly and had no problem with me returning it if there was a problem all in all a great shopping experience, you can get them cheaper than this price, but for $26 AUD odd, I'm over the moon it's so cheap for what it does, I'm quite amazed.

Broadlink Blackbean from Ebay