7 On Your Side, Consumer Reports: How to make the most out of your digital assistant

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Do you get a new Amazon Echo or Google Home as a holiday gift, but you're not sure exactly what to do with it? (KGO-TV)

Do you get a new Amazon Echo or Google Home as a holiday gift, but you're not sure exactly what to do with it?

In a partnership with Consumer Reports, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney helps you get your new digital home assistant out of the box.

Whether it's making shopping lists or converting cups to ounces, a voice assistant can help you out in ways you've never imagined. But first, you have to set it up.

"When you get a new voice assistant or smart speaker, you need to download the app that goes with it. And from there it will walk you through how to set the device up," said Bree Fowler, Consumer Reports Electronics Editor.

Once that's done, the possibilities are endless. But you might have to enable things called "skills" for the Echo and "actions" for Google Home.

Think of them as added features that make your assistant even smarter.

"You can have it tell you what the weather is, or have it read your calendar for the day. You can also get the latest sports scores or even play trivia games," shared Fowler.

Are you ready to let your new assistant really show its stuff? With high-tech add-ons like smart light bulbs, thermostats, door locks and plugs, you've got an instant smart home.

"If you have a smart plug, you can turn on and off whatever you happen to have plugged into it, whether it's a lamp or, in my case, a Christmas tree," said Fowler. "What it lets you do is get things done without having to open an app, or you know, in this case, crawl behind the couch and unplug the tree."

Another tip from Consumer Reports? Practice patience as you get to know your new assistant and what it can do.

Fowler noted, "It's important to remember that you know Rome wasn't built in a day. And that you're gonna buy things to connect to it and add skills and apps and it's kinda something you construct over time."

Consumer Reports says their testing shows these assistants do not have the best sound quality when it comes to playing music.

In that category, the original Amazon Echo earned a "good" rating, and the Google Home, received a "fair" rating.

But the new Google Home Max, the Sonos One with Alexa built-in, and the upcoming Apple HomePod all promise to raise the bar on sound quality for home assistants.

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technologyconsumerconsumer reports7 On Your Sideholiday techgadgetsamazonapplegiftsSan Francisco
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