Currently available at $29 (down from $49), the Google Home Mini speaker is the most affordable way to get Google Assistant in the living room. In our review we give you all the details about its smart capabilities and audio quality.
- ✓Small size
- ✓Excellent voice recognition
- ✕Limited speaker audio quality
- ✕MicroUSB port
- ✕Can not be connected via Bluetooth to other speakers
Release date and price
Google Home Mini is available from Google’s store for $29. . Since October 19, it can only be purchased in Japan, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States.
The rival, in terms of price and size, is Amazon’s Echo Dot.
Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation)
Design and build quality
Google Home Mini’s rounded style reminded me of a French macaron. The Google Home Mini consists of a small round 98x42mm speaker with a colored plastic base (orange in both the case of the light model I tested and the dark grey one) and the fabric upper part. A formal and elegant look that, over time, I hope won’t be compromised by dust around the house, because you can’t put it into the washing machine!
Underneath the fabric are 4 RGB LEDs that light up when interacting with the device. A physical slider on the back allows you to turn the microphone on and off. The button is difficult to reach without interacting with the volume button, but the Google Home Mini is probably assumed to be never turned off.
There is a microUSB port that allows you to connect the device via cable (you can find it included in the box) to the power supply. Personally I was surprised to find this type of output: if you don’t make a big difference in your daily use of the device, considering that all recent Google products incorporate a type C port, this seems to me a step backwards. Especially if you consider that by 2020 it is expected that any device will be equipped with a type C USB port.
MicroUSB port and no headphone jacks on the Google Home Mini
But let’s go back to Google Home Mini. Touch keys allow you to interact with the device: one tap on the left lowers the volume, one on the right increases it. To find the volume keys, place your fingers near the edges. Pressing in the center “should” pause or restart the song while pressing the Assistant for a few seconds. However this feature was blocked after the problem with the drives distributed by Google during the launch event. The 3.5 mm mini jack for headphones is missing.
Given the size the Google Home Mini can be easily placed in any corner of the house and the rubber base makes sure it does not slide away. Without a doubt, the device offers a more pleasant design than its rival Echo Dot.
To use the Google Home Mini simply discard it, plug it in and turn it on. Then download the Google Home app on your smartphone and follow the installation procedure. You’ll need to connect the device to the network and name the room where you place it. You don’t have to repeat “Ok Google” three times. Configuring it takes very little time and you can start communicating with it right away.
From the app you can select the language in which you want to communicate with the device.
Google Home Mini does what Google Home Mini and Google Home Max do: it provides Google Assistant’s services and through simple voice commands, it can play music tracks, interact with your Smart TV, answer your questions and connect your smart devices scattered around the house. Support is however more limited than Alexa, but we will talk about this better in a direct comparison between Google Home Mini and Echo Dot. One of the pleasant aspects during use is the very natural communication with the device.
Those who are immersed in the Google ecosystem will appreciate this smart speaker even more.
Voice recognition is fluid and fast, just as good as the bigger Google Home. However, there’s one particular point to keep in mind: if you have, for example, the Google Home Mini and your smartphone in the same room, at the command “Ok Google”, it will be the device closest to you to activate first.
Undoubtedly, those who are immersed in the Google ecosystem will appreciate this smart speaker even more.
Support for Google Music, Spotify and TuneIn allows you to play your favorite music without restrictions. You just need a voice command to start your playlists. You’ll also be able to stop the song from your smartphone if you don’t want to talk to your device.
Headphone mini jack is missing and it cannot be paired with a Bluetooth speaker
But don’t expect high audio quality. Considering the speaker size and price, it could never be a luxury sound experience The maximum volume is high but the output sound quality is not optimal. And it is here that we really miss the mini-jack, (present on Echo Dot), or the possibility of matching it to another Bluetooth speaker.
It can be connected as an alternative to a Chromecast speaker. The two integrated microphones are really good and capable of hearing the voice even at a limited distance.
The question is, is it worthwhile buying? Considering the price yes, if you have decided to take a first step towards the Smart Home and want to get Google Assistant into the 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, and I will buy it. But if you want to know which Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot is the best speaker, you will have to wait for our more in-depth discussion.
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