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Google Home Hub vs Facebook Portal - battle of the pop-ups

Monday, December 17, 2018
There's an abundance of smart home products out these days that it's hard to choose which one is right for you (or do you even need them?) but call me an early adopter but I love to test stuff out. Last holiday season, we won a free google home mini. We've slowly integrated it into our home life (i mostly use it to just put music on or ask the weather or set alarms for the oven) so the thought of adding something new feels a bit much.  
Which leads me to believe that I'm probably the target customer for Google AND facebook — who both have tablet-like gadgets out now with the home hub and portal respectively. Thankfully both had pop up experiences so that you can see how you can integrate their products.  It was interesting that both were within a 10 min walk from each other which made it so easy to take the girls and check both pop-ups on a cold rainy sunday.
 First up was the Google Hardware Store which was having a Disney storytime hosted by Fomofeed Kids. With the google home hub or mini, your storytime can be accompanied by background music and sound effects as long as you use a Disney Golden Book (remember Golden books?! Love how they're staying relevant).  By saying "hey google, let's read along with Disney" you'll be asked which book, to which you then follow the prompts.  Google senses where you are in the story to play accompanying music or sound effects. It's actually pretty cool and made me want to go test out all 30 or so titles that are out.  When we got home, we immediately tested it out with the mini and it worked!
 The google hardware store is pretty cool and made for the instagrammers. So many cute photo ops like this swing (with the moving backgrounds for all you boomerangers)
 the kawaii kitchen was so mini and cute.  I felt bad for the employees though because the drawers are real storage for them but the kids were obviously going through itso they had to continually tell parents to please not let their kids in the drawers (why they don't just empty them out — i don't know). Downstairs was a DIY/custom gift wrapping station (only with purchase of a product in store!) as well as some swinging hammocks and art/doodle table for the kiddos. 


 apparently new to the hardware store was this lifesize gingerbread treehouse made by dominque ansel of the cronut fame.
all in all - it's hard to justify the home hub if you already have a smart tablet.  its hard to compete with an ipad.  but then again I'm not sure i was learning about all the capabilities of the hub. who knows.  but the mini does the job just fine so she can stay around!
The Portal by Facebook had a different setup for their popup called The Get Together and it was really meant to show you the capabilities of the Portal.  There was a series of 7 rooms which taught you the different highlights of the Portal. First  room was just the product, set in a lodge type of set up. From there we moved into auntie's kitchen where we live chatted with "grandma" who was baking cookies. I thought this was unique because you spoke to real actors (who I saw set in a different do-not-enter room) so that you knew by their real-time comments ("grandma"  loved the bows in Winter's hair or grandpa asked you crossword puzzle hints) exactly how the Portal worked.  In the kitchen was a hot chocolate bar that you could make with various toppings. From there we moved to a living room to show how the Portal's unique algorithm could either follow a subject or turn into a wide angle shot to accompany large groups depending on your settings.
 Then it was onto a kids dreamy tented room for a storytime where a cool auntie read either Three Little Pigs or 5 monkeys on the bed. the actress prompted Winter and Nyla to act out scenes (huff, puff, and bloooowwww the house down).  Where the Portal one-ups the Google is through added visuals on the screen which is welcome in a face-time setting.  Stickers and filters (like IG and snapchat) are also available. There were 2 secret side nooks (it seriously was the cutest and homey decoration i've seen for a kids room) that made winter and nyla split up and talk to each other through the portal choosing various filters and stickers. They could have stayed in there alllll day cracking each other up. 

At this point is where my phone died and now i'm secretly hoping the photographer/facebook will just post shots of us bc i feel like he got some good ones.  From the kids room we moved to a home office/music studio/garage like space where we live chatted with Leo who got us into dance party mode because you can send songs to your chat participant via Spotify (i think).
 From there it was this seamless photobooth.  where you get a print and a digital copy to use like this.


Finished up with craft table setup to make holiday cards with your new prints to which facebook will mail for you if you want (nice touch).  You can also try to win a free Portal through their raffle where you pull a card and see if you got the (golden) ticket.

So which one would i lean towards?  Purely for face-to-face chat I would use the Portal because of the size and also because of the smart camera. I think there's an alexa capability which would compete with google but b/c of alexa there's most likely an amazon hookup.  However we do have an ipad in this home so it's hard to even compete with that since it has all of those functions (except the smart camera) but I can live with that (not taking pics with the ipad anyhow.)



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