Google Home Mini Review
Google Home Mini$49
- Killer price at $49
- Attractive design
- Plays nicely with Google Cast
- Increased support for home control devices
- Underwhelming audio performance
- Fewer smart home tricks than Amazon’s Alexa
Google Home Mini Review – Small and mighty. Say hello to Google Home Mini.
Google Home Mini is powered by the Google Assistant. So whenever you need help, it’s by your side.
Want the latest weather, traffic, finance, sports and more? Simply ask.
Get personalised help with your schedule, reminders, news and more.
Google Home Mini works with Chromecast, so you can stream shows, movies and music on your TV or speakers.
Use your voice to control your compatible home automation devices.
competitors: Sonos One
There’s no doubt that Google Home’s capabilities have improved significantly over the past year. I called the original device “little more than a toy” last year, but now it’s a legit competitor to Amazon’s Echo and Alexa. The Echo might technically have a lead in compatible devices, but I’d urge you to do some research before committing to a smart speaker — chances are good that the Home Mini can do what you need it to.
Google’s undeniable advantage comes from the amount of info Google has about both the world and your own activities. Its knowledge graph is unrivaled, and Google is very good at answering any query you might have. As for the hardware itself, the Home Mini has a better speaker, a more attractive appearance and superior voice-calling features — it’s just too bad that the microphones don’t offer better call quality. Google has done a strong job closing the gap between the Assistant and Alexa over the past 12 months — as long as the Home Mini works with devices and services you use, it’s well worth a look.
The Google Home Mini is the perfect addition to Google’s lineup. Quite frankly, it’s the one piece that perfectly fills the void that the Google Home was unable to capture due to its higher price point of $129. At a mere fraction of that, the $49 priced Google Home Mini is a ridiculously smart speaker package that has the same functional arsenal as its sibling, but in a more affordable price and compact design.
Those two qualities, in particular, will help Google capture a wider audience – much like how its Chromecast quickly decimated the competition. Besides the less-than-perfect audio performance, the Google Home Mini is the ideal complement to those outlining areas in the home or office. Indeed, it’s not after becoming the main speaker in the area, but rather, it’s a supplementary offering that gets the job done without being too pervasive.
And as time goes on, wherein it’ll continue to amass support for additional smart devices in-and-around the home/office, it’ll only solidify its worth. Price alone is going to be the driving force behind sales, since it’s uncompromising in several areas, so it’ll be intriguing to see how the competition responds to this new entrant in the space. Hey, it’s the perfect gift for almost any occasion!
The Home Mini is best suited for those that live deep in Google’s ecosystem (and don’t have their work accounts tied to G Suite). It’s the best way to voice control Google Play Music, and Google’s wealth of internet knowledge provides more answers to queries than any other voice assistant.
But if you aren’t committed to Google’s ecosystem, the Amazon Echo Dot remains the better option, even if its voice doesn’t sound as good as the Mini’s. The Echo Dot is more compatible with more services and products than Google’s, which makes it a better in-home, voice-controlled computer than the Home Mini is — at least at this point in time.
The Dot also has a standard 3.5mm aux jack, and whether you think that sort of thing is necessary on a phone or not, it’s undeniably useful on a little smart speaker. Google Cast speakers are still few and far between, limiting the Google Home Mini’s usefulness to people who aren’t totally committed to Google’s ecosystem.
Google’s not done with its Home ecosystem, however, and it’s been adding features and plugging gaps quickly in the year since the first Home debuted. Its next trick is more hardware in the form of the Google Home Max, so stay tuned for that.
The Home Mini is similar to the Amazon Echo Dot in that it’s Google’s attempt at getting the Assistant into as many homes as possible. At that, the sheer amount of capabilities that the Google Home brings in addition to its chic, premium build and the low price make it an instant star.
If you’re in the market for a cheap speaker, the Google Home Mini will do the trick for many. But, keep in mind that it’s best viewed as a supplement to the Home family, not the foundation. This device’s specialty, aside from being oh-so smart, is mainly to reward those who are already within Google’s Cast-enabled walled garden with a cheap, new device.
The Google Home Mini might be less than half the price of the larger Google Home, and half its size, too, but it just doesn’t sound like we’re getting half its performance, we’re getting something a bit worse.
Here’s the irony of the Google Home Mini: It could have been an Echo-killer 16 months ago, before the Dot first burst onto the scene. Instead, it’s a “me-too” gadget — a perfectly good one and maybe even a great one, but not one that brings much new to the table. Google still has work to do.
There are legitimate reasons why you might prefer the Google Assistant over Alexa, especially if you’re already deeply invested in Google’s online ecosystem of services. If you’ve been holding out on buying a smart speaker, then the $50 Google Home Mini is as good a place to start as any. It looks nice and it sounds nice for the smallish speaker that it is, and it will undoubtedly improve with time. If you’re already a Google Home user, then you’re going to love that you can expand the Google Assistant’s footprint in your home for such a low cost.
But for all of its strengths, the Mini isn’t the silver bullet that Google needs to stop Alexa’s momentum. This was a chance for Google to reinforce its future-tense vision of the artificially intelligent living space. Instead, it almost feels like it’s reinforcing Amazon’s.
When it comes to speakers, Google has the $50 Mini, the $129 Home, and the $399 Max. Google Assistant is also available on every recent Android phone, without you having to hunt down an app.
Amazon has the $45 Dot, the $99 Echo, the $149 Echo Plus, and the screen-equipped Echo Show ($199.99) and Echo Spot ($129.99). You can plug Echos into any other speaker you want, while Google’s systems need to work with Chromecast-enabled speakers. But Amazon is second place on most phones, requiring you to hunt down and press the Alexa icon.
We’re seeing more Alexa-enabled speakers than Google-enabled speakers coming down the pike in the next few months, and Alexa has maintained its lead in third-party services. Some speakers, like the upcoming Sonos One, support both.
If you’re a Google Play Music subscriber, or you have a Chromecast or Chromecast-compatible TV, you have a compelling reason to go with the Google Home Mini instead of the Echo Dot. For everyone else, the Echo Dot is still our Editors’ Choice.
The question is, is it worth buying? Considering the price: yes. If you have decided to take a first step in the Smart Home sphere and want to get Google Assistant into your house this is the cheapest way to do it. But don’t look at Google Home Mini as a main speaker to do justice to your playlists.
I personally would buy it. But if you want to know whether Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot is the best speaker, you will have to wait for our more in-depth comparison.