Google Home Mini Review

A Google Home Mini is a smart speaker that can handle many functions of your smartphone using only your voice. Analysts state that while Amazon Alexa has captured the lion’s share of the US market, but it’s a different story in Australia –  Google is taking over.

For just AU$34.95, the affordable Google Home Mini does something that the best Bluetooth speakers can’t do: it comes equipped with Google Assistant, which is always ready to help you find any answers in the world, and not only that, you can turn on the tunes, dim the lights, start a TV show, alarm clock.

Ask where your phone is; Ask for the square root of Pi; Get it to remind you of the population of Australia; Do ants have tongues? You can ask more by using nothing but your voice. Let’s find out more on our hands-on review below.

Out of the box

When you open the box, the Mini Google will greet you in an inverted dome of plastic. Under the plastic tray,  you will find a Micro USB power cord with a rounded wall plug. An instruction manual is in the box, but you won’t need it anyway because as with the most internet-connected devices today, you can set up through an app, the Google Home app.

Setup

Before you set it up, you will need a Google account and the Google Home app installed on your mobile device. Because the Mini differentiates users based on voice and attempts to customize the experience, it needs individual accounts to associate the information.

It’s easier to set it up via the app. Your Google Home Mini will instantly be recognized. Once you finished setting it up and connected to the internet, then you should immediately say  “Hey Google,” and “OK Google,” to analyze your voice.

Once your smartphone is set up with the Home Mini, it’s simple to begin listening. You can start by giving the speaker a shout for some music, being as specific as you want or vague as you’d like.

This is how you set it up:

  • Plug in the speaker to power
  • Download the Google Home app
  • Log into your Google Account
  • It will discover the speaker and any other compatible devices
  • You can train it to recognise your voice or leave it for all to use
  • Done

Do they sound great?

We think the Google Home Mini blows the Amazon Echo Dot’s onboard sound quality right out of the water. The Mini is clearer, louder, and higher in fidelity. If a  decent sound from a compact speaker is a priority for you, the Google Home Mini is the clear choice to choose.

Design

The design looks nice with no hard edges – what you get is a large Babybel wrapped in various coloured fabrics. The only sad things are that you could see the LEDs through the material at the top when the device is active, and the micro USB needs power.

Performance

Whether you want to shout from across the room or speaking gently 10 feet away, the Home Mini gives excellent results. You can stream music through an assortment of music apps like Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music, iHeartRadio and more. It can send a request to pull up a YouTube video over to your Chromecast,

The Home Mini is also a smart home hub in that it can also integrate with Internet of Things (IoT) devices from the likes of TP-Link, Philips Hue, Wemo and much more. If you want to use the Home Mini as a set of Bluetooth speakers, the Google Home app offers up pairing settings.

Specifications

Home

Home Mini

Size

96.4 (round) x 142.8 mm (H) x 477g

98 (round) x 42mm (H) x 173g

Colours

White/Slate

Chalk, Charcoal, Coral

Audio Codecs

HE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), Opus, FLAC with support for high-resolution streams (24-bit/96 kHz)

Same

Comms

Wi-Fi AC dual band 2x 2
No Bluetooth (chip is there)
Chromecast
Chromecast Audio

Same
1 x 1
Bluetooth 4.1 input support

Mics

2 x Far-field microphones
One used for noise cancelling and beamforming

Same

Speakers

1 x 50mm Neodymium Driver
2 x 2” passive radiators

40mm 360° upwards firing

CPU

Marvell 88DE3006 Armada 1500 plus Dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 media processor
4GB NAND
512MB RAM

Same

Amplifier

Ti TAS5720x mono D-Class 20W, .15% THD

Same

Power

16.5V/2A

5V/1.8A micro-USB

Over the air updates

Yes

Yes

Price

AU$199.00

AU$34.95

 

Pros

  • Getting smarter daily – a huge difference in accurate response rate over the past few months

Cons

  • Still limited in what it can do – often better to use it on a device with a screen
  • Smart home automation hit and miss although improving
  • Privacy issues but you can mute the microphone and delete OK Google history
  • The Mini's touch controls aren't intuitive, it doesn't have a line-out jack

Conclusions

The Google Home Assistant is a great assistant to have. It's pleasant, helpful, and generally good at finding answers to whatever questions you can think to throw at it. The downside is that the Mini aren't going to replace your full-scale home audio, but Google was right saying that people would be surprised by how much sound the Mini can put out. True, it sounded stronger than we expected -- and noticeably stronger than the Echo Dot.

If you’re in the market for an assistant and a  speaker with a great sound, the Google Home Mini is just the right speaker, and will do a lot of tricks to help you at home.

Buy Google Home Mini wall mount

 


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