Home Mini

Not an assistant you are looking for


The tech giant recently announced a gadget called the Google Home Mini. As the name implies, the device does everything a Google Home does in a much smaller and more affordable package. It is covered in fabric and is available in three colours – coral, chalk and eharcoal,. There are four LED lights on top that indicate when it’s active and whether it hears you. Just like its big brother, the Home Mini works as an access point for Google Assistant, so you can ask questions or give commands and do all kinds of fun, futuristic things.

While the Home Mini does have a comparable microphone setup, the smaller Home device doesn’t pack the same speaker capabilities of a full-sized Google Home, although there is one 360-degree speaker packed into the small size.

Design

The Home Mini looks as if Google turned the Home upside down, then reduced it down in size. The palm-sized device makes it seem that its fabric mesh is just for looks, but it’s actually conductive to your touch in a few areas, for example, tapping the top pauses and resumes play, placing a finger on the left and right sides of the speaker lowers and raises the volumes, as you might expect. And lastly, whenever you navigate with your voice or touch, the device will illuminate four LEDs on its top to show that your action has been registered.

The Home Mini features a micro USB port on its rear to provide power, and a microphone switch that enables you to turn off active listening, making this a speaker that you will have to tap to interact with. There is a circular rubber mat at the bottom to keep still on whichever surface that you place it on.

Performance

The Home Mini is the most affordable Google Assistant-enabled speaker available and its voice recognition doesn’t suffer from the reduction in size and price. Whether shouting from across the room or speaking gently 10 feet away, the mini device yields similar results.

You can place a call for free (in the US and later this year in the UK), 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 to effortlessly begin viewing. The home assistant 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 more.

The device boasts an impressive set of features that are available right out of the box for those who can’t be bothered with talking with your speaker or connecting it with extraneous services. Connecting is a breeze through the Google Home app and is quick to teach you a thing or two about the device, like how it works and resources that provide instant access to a wide variety of free audio content. If you want to solely use Home Mini as a set of Bluetooth speakers, the aforementioned app offers up pairing settings, though they are rather buried within the app.

Once your smartphone is set up with the home assistant, it’s simple to begin listening. Either give the speaker a command for some tunes or just hit the Cast button near the top to give your phone free reign to push its audio straight to the device.

The Good: The Google Home Mini is a stylish-looking speaker with surprisingly strong sound quality for its size. The device is a capable Alexa competitor, especially thanks to its ability to search out detailed answers to a wide variety of questions.

The Bad: There isn't much the Home Mini does that Alexa can't do, too. It also lacks a line-out jack, and requires Chromecast Audio in order to connect with at external speaker setup.

Verdict: While Home Mini is good for those who do not own a home assistant device, it shouldn’t be used as much more than a desk buddy. If you’re looking for something that will faithfully reproduce your favourite music, this isn’t the best solution out there. This mini speaker can get fairly loud, but there’s no bass in the delivery.

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COMMENTS

    Jack Smith commented 3 weeks ago

    "There isn't much the Home Mini does that Alexa can't do, too " What? Alexa requires commands that you MUST memorize to use and the Google Home supports natural language. It is like the Google Home has a GUI and Alexa a command line interface. But then it is night and day what the two can an

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