- Nathan Ingraham, Engadget
This tiny speaker shows how far Google's assistant has come.
- Mike Prospero, Tom's Guide
The Google Home Mini looks and sounds better than Amazon's smallest Alexa speaker, but it's not quite as versatile.
|Warranty (Months)||12 months|
|Size||4 x 10 cm (1.6 x 3.9 in)|
|Suggest a correction|
The Echo might have created the smart speaker niche, but it’s no longer the only one on the block. Google's Home Mini hopes to bring more competition to the small smart speaker market.
The Mini, as the name suggests, is very small measuring in at 3.86 inches in diameter and 1.65 inches in height. Despite being a little larger than the Dot, reviewers found it more home-friendly thanks to its sloping sides and softer shape.
It comes in three colors—light gray, dark gray, and coral red. While the coral red is the brightest of all three, reviewers found each color blended in well with their interior decor and appliances.
The Mini has a textured fabric top and matte plastic bottom. Most agree that it looks nice, but some noticed it attracted a lot of dust. They further add that cats might view the smart speaker as a toy or scratching pad.
At first glance, the mesh fabric might seem like it’s just for aesthetics. However, it is touch capacitive. Tapping the top pauses or resumes play while placing a finger on the left and right side lowers and raises the volume.
Critics point out it’s quite sensitive. An accidental brush would change the volume or pause music, making it very difficult to move the device without making adjustments.
Of course, you can use voice commands instead of the touch controls to address this concern. Experts had no issue with the mic picking up commands. They had great results whether they were whispering up close or shouting across the room.
The “smart” part of the speaker integrates with Google Assistant. You can place free calls; stream music through Pandora, Spotify, and other music apps; integrate with an Internet of Things devices, like a Philips Hue; and even connect to a Chromecast and pull up YouTube or Netflix videos.
As a speaker, it’s not perfect. Reviewers weren’t expecting too much due to its small size. Still, many were impressed with how loud it was. They could hear it easily from the next room. And while sound quality wasn’t great, most agree that it was warmer and more natural than Amazon’s Dot. But don't expect much bass—the speaker is simply too tiny for that.
Unfortunately, if you want to improve the audio quality, getting the Mini connected to a better speaker might be more trouble than it’s worth. It does not have a line out jack and its Bluetooth radio only accepts incoming signals. It does, however, cast audio to any speaker with a Chromecast Audio dongle.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of the Mini is the lack of an integrated battery. That makes it far less portable and, for many, defeats the purpose of being tiny in the first place.
While the Mini offers a great price, good smart capabilities, and a decent speaker for its size, most still suggest the Dot as it offers more services and products. Still, they add that it is a good choice for those who are already invested in the Google ecosystem. CNet states, “... for all of its strength, the Mini isn’t the silver bullet that Google needs to stop Alexa’s momentum.” What Hi-Fi adds, “While it’s not quite the perfect experience, it’s hard to complain too much... just don't expect it to be a top-notch music speaker.”
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