Google Nest Mini review: Modest improvements make Google’s smallest smart speaker even better

You’ll be able to’t be blamed for mistaking the $49 Nest Mini for its two-year-old predecessor, the (additionally $49) Google House Mini. Certainly, the largest distinction between the 2 wise audio system, which glance nearly similar except for a couple of iterative design tweaks, may well be Google’s determination (which I nonetheless to find complicated, frankly) to switch out the “House” moniker for “Nest,” following within the footsteps of the re-branded Google Nest Hub and the hot Google Nest Hub Max.

Nonetheless, there are some laudable adjustments right here, despite the fact that none that call for turning to your present House Mini(s) on your native recycling heart. A few of the enhancements: marginally greater sound, a brand new mounting hollow, an extra integrated microphone, and a machine-learning chip designed to make Google Assistant sooner and smarter over the years. The Nest Mini’s capacitive contact controls have additionally been shuffled and delicate, even supposing they could nonetheless confuse any person who isn’t accustomed to the speaker’s tips.

So, will have to you improve? Given the Nest Mini’s affordable price ticket (which can almost definitely see steep and periodic reductions within the coming months, if historical past is any information), a greater query is: will have to you purchase a Nest Mini to head together with your present House Mini? Via all way, sure, in particular given the approaching Nest domestic tracking options that each the Nest Mini and House Mini will give a boost to. Extra on that during a little bit.

When you haven’t jumped at the wise speaker bandwagon but, the Google Nest Mini makes for an excellent spot to begin, in particular when you’re a faithful Google person. After all, the $49 Amazon Echo Dot stays a worthy Nest Mini competitor, in particular on the subject of Alexa’s dominance within the space of wise domestic voice keep an eye on. That mentioned, making an allowance for their affordable worth tags, you don’t essentially want to pick out one over the opposite—even supposing you utilize an Android smartphone.

Design

Set the Nest Mini subsequent its predecessor and also you’ll have problem telling them aside. They each undergo the similar telltale oval form when seen from the facet, the similar cloth masking (in chalk, coral, and charcoal colours, with a brand new sky coloration changing the House Mini’s aqua taste), and the similar 4 LEDs peeking in the course of the most sensible of the material when Google Assistant is wakeful and chatting.

google nest mini with home mini Ben Patterson/IDG

Pop quiz: which of those Google wise audio system is the brand new Nest Mini?

Glance a little bit extra carefully, on the other hand, and also you select some key variations. Flip the Nest Mini over and also you’ll spot the brand new mounting hollow, which makes it clean to hold the Nest Mini on a hook or (when you’ve pounded it in some distance sufficient) the top of a nail.

google nest mini mounting hole Ben Patterson/IDG

The brand new mounting hollow at the again of the Google Nest Mini means that you can hold it on a wall without having to shop for a third-party bracket.

It’s now not unexpected that Google added a integrated mounting choice at the Nest Mini, given the wide variety of third-party mounting equipment that sprouted up for the House Mini. That mentioned, the only mounting hollow signifies that cable control is as much as you; and believe me, with out some lend a hand to your section, the Nest Mini’s charging cable received’t hold completely directly alongside the wall adore it does in Google’s press footage. Rating one for third-party mounts just like the Mount Genie that hold the Google House Mini from an AC outlet, with its extra energy wire well wound across the mount.

google nest mini mounted Ben Patterson/IDG

You’ll be able to hold the Google Nest Mini from a wall due to its new mounting hollow, however cable control is as much as you.

Some other small distinction has to do with the Nest Mini’s charging port. Long past is the Micro-USB port that sits within the base of the House Mini, it’s been changed by means of a barrel-shaped charging port. That’s a little bit of a disgrace, for the reason that it’s good to switch out the House Mini’s authentic charging cable with a third-party, 5V Micro-USB charger, however it’s a protected wager that the Nest Mini’s 15W energy draw calls for a extra tough energy supply. (It’s value noting that the third-gen Amazon Echo Dot has a barrel-shaped charging port, too.)

Switches and controls

At a look (as soon as once more), the Nest Mini’s controls glance kind of the similar because the House Mini’s, however you’ll to find some enhancements when you dig a little bit deeper. So far as similarities pass, the Nest Mini’s mic mute transfer is the same to the only at the base of the House Mini, and sure, flipping the transfer nonetheless necessitates preserving the speaker stable with one hand when you slide the transfer with the opposite.

google nest mini mic mute switch power port Ben Patterson/IDG

The Google Nest Mini keeps the House Mini’s mic mute transfer, even supposing the Micro-USB charging port has been changed with a barrel connector.

Additionally unchanged are the invisible capacitive buttons at the left and proper facet of the Nest Mini that can help you carry and decrease the amount. At the House Mini, the ones capacitive buttons additionally can help you pause and restart your tunes with an extended press.

The Nest Mini does trade issues up a little bit by means of letting you faucet the highest of the speaker to pause your song. Certainly, that used to be the unique intent with the House Mini, till it became out that the highest button—which used to be additionally intended to can help you summon Google Assistant with out talking the wake phrase001—may well be inadvertently activated by means of the material itself. Google ended up transferring the play/p0ause button capability to the edges prior to the unique House Mini shipped to consumers, or even now with the Nest Mini, tapping the highest button received’t wake Assistant.

In some other considerate trade, integrated proximity sensors turn on new LEDs on every facet when your hand nears the speaker, necessarily tipping you off that the ones invisible facet quantity buttons are able and ready.

google nest mini side volume controls Ben Patterson/IDG

A couple of LEDs at the Nest Mini illuminate while you hand approaches, letting you realize the place to faucet to regulate the amount.

Whilst the Nest Mini’s hidden capacitive buttons are definitely artful and lend a cleaner glance to the speaker’s design, there’s one thing to be mentioned for bodily buttons with obviously marked capability—and sure, we’re principally eager about the Amazon Echo Dot, with quantity and mic mute buttons that take a seat in simple sight at the most sensible of the tool.

Speaking to Google Assistant

After all, you’ll spend much more time speaking to the Nest Mini than tapping it. Due to the huge pool of searchable wisdom at Google’s disposal, Google Assistant stays the neatest of the virtual assistants we’ve attempted, continuously dishing out solutions to questions that depart its competition shrugging their digital shoulders. Assistant is even greater when you’ve arranged your existence round your Google account, helpfully alerting you to imminent appointments, sending using instructions on your telephone, and even (due to the Nest Mini’s give a boost to for Google’s Duo voice- and video-calling app) making voice calls on your Google contacts.

Google added a brand new mechanical device studying chip to the Nest Mini, permitting it to spice up the responsiveness of Google Assistant by means of dealing with extra of its processing chores in the community relatively than within the cloud. The chip will have to additionally lend a hand Assistant get a care for to your favourite instructions and requests extra temporarily.

google nest mini with amazon echo dot Ben Patterson/IDG

The hidden capacitive contact buttons at the Google House Mini are unquestionably artful, however there’s one thing to be mentioned for the traditional, but sensible, bodily buttons at the Amazon Echo Dot.

Over the years, the Nest Mini’s mechanical device studying chip would possibly smartly reap advantages on the subject of dashing up its efficiency, however in my preliminary checking out, Assistant at the Nest Mini nonetheless took a beat or two to answer my queries, about the similar as at the House Mini (or the Echo Dot, for that topic).

Google additionally says that it’s added a 3rd far-field microphone to the Nest Mini, making it more uncomplicated for the speaker to listen to you while you’re around the room. In my exams, the Nest Mini outperformed the House Mini’s listening talents by means of a tad, listening to me from a excellent 30 ft away whilst I used to be talking in a standard voice, with a whirring fan close by. The House Mini may just most effective pay attention me when I used to be nearer than 25 ft away—nonetheless now not dangerous, however sure, that 1/3 mic does make a distinction.

Controlling your wise gadgets

It’s nonetheless difficult to overcome Alexa on the subject of wise domestic keep an eye on, with Amazon’s virtual assistant just about ubiquitous on the subject of wise units that give a boost to voice instructions. That mentioned, third-party give a boost to for Google Assistant has taken large strides previously couple of years, with increasingly more wise gadgets supporting each Alexa and Assistant (Apple’s HomeKit could also be catching on, albeit a lot more slowly). Certainly, Google claims that greater than 30,000 wise units be offering Google Assistant give a boost to, together with such large manufacturers as Philips Hue and TP-Hyperlink.

When you’ve got different Nest gadgets in your house, it’s a no brainer to sprinkle Nest wise audio system round, so there’s at all times one withing talking distance. Google supplies tight integration between Google Assistant and Nest cameras, doorbells, thermostats, and its Nest Protected domestic safety gadget. What’s to not like about asking Google to show up the warmth the usage of a close-by Nest Mini speaker?

Talking of Nest, the Nest Mini makes for a perfect better half to Google’s about-to-be-cheaper-and-better Nest Mindful subscription provider, which (beginning in early 2020) you’ll be in a position to enroll in for as low as $6 a month. Specifically, we’re pondering of Nest Mindful’s upcoming talent to alert you if it hears suspicious sounds or anything else that portends threat, similar to breaking glass, canines barking, or the whine of a carbon monoxide alarm.

Given the Nest Mini’s affordable price ticket, it’s good to simply spice up Nest Mindful’s listening protection by means of hanging a number of of the small audio system during your own home, particularly close to doors or smoke detectors.

Song and sound high quality

Google says its added a customized motive force to the Nest Mini to provide it as much as two times the bass reaction of the House Mini, whilst tool enhancements will have to lend a hand to ship clearer sound with much less distortion. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t be expecting nice audio efficiency from small wise audio system just like the Nest Mini or Amazon’s Third-gen Echo Dot. 

After A/B checking out the Nest Mini and House Mini, I’ll say the brand new motive force and Google’s tool tweaks lend a hand the Nest Mini sound no less than marginally greater with song. It’s a little bit clearer and punchier than at the tinny, bass-deprived House Mini, however don’t be expecting anything else rivaling that of the $100 Google House, an Amazon Echo Display wise show, or a $200 Sonos One. As an alternative, “tolerable” is the phrase that involves thoughts when describing the Echo Mini’s sound high quality, which is no less than an improve over plain-old “dangerous.”

You’ll be able to pair both of Google’s small wise audio system with a extra tough Bluetooth speaker, however Amazon gives each that choice and a three.5mm analog output at the Echo Dot, so you’ll be able to attach it to stressed out audio system. And prefer Amazon, Google means that you can create a stereo pair the usage of two Nest Minis, however Amazon one-u.s.its rival as soon as once more by means of providing the choice of including a wi-fi subwoofer to maximum of its wise audio system—together with stereo pairs. Google does have a groovy new “circulate switch” characteristic that allows you to ask the Nest Mini to transport any tunes that it’s enjoying to some other House, Nest, or Chromecast-enabled speaker.

We additionally like that the Nest Mini is appropriate with many of the main song streaming products and services, together with YouTube Song (natch), Pandora, and Spotify, and it’ll display up within the Spotify desktop and cell apps as a Spotify Attach tool, so you’ll be able to use Spotify’s personal app with the speaker.

But even so (modestly) bettering the Nest Mini’s sound high quality, Google additionally added a characteristic that enhances the audio system sound while you’re paying attention to the scoop or a podcast whilst, as an example, the dishwasher is operating, or if a an identical rush of ambient noise occurs to rear its head. I sat the Nest Mini subsequent to a tower fan and cranked its fan pace whilst NPR used to be enjoying at the Nest Mini, and certainly, the speaker bumped up the amount a tad, even supposing the spice up wasn’t all that dramatic.

In spite of everything, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the Nest Mini’s intercom and voice-calling talents. Simply say “Hello Google, name kitchen” to name a House or Nest speaker within the kitchen, or “Hello Google, name Joe Turner” to dial one in all your Google contacts (with lend a hand from Google Duo).

Nest Mini or Echo Dot?

Even with its enhancements, the selection between the Nest Mini and Echo Dot is a tricky one. Each wise audio system are the similar worth, more or less the similar dimension, and have the similar fundamental capability. Neither will blow you away with their sound high quality, and each Alexa and Google Assistant have their very own strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. The Nest Mini’s capacitive contact controls are undeniably neat, however the Echo Dot’s bodily buttons are simpler. Google Assistant is best at answering random questions, however Alexa will get the nod on the subject of smart-home ubiquity.

In the long run, it comes all the way down to the wise assistant by which you’re maximum invested. When you’re all about taking keep an eye on of your wise domestic with Alexa’s myriad talents, you’ll almost definitely need to stick to the Echo Dot, without reference to any enhancements Google cooked up for the Nest Mini. Via the similar token, those that closely rely on Google products and services or who give protection to their houses with Nest gadgets will have to pass with the Nest Mini.

Additionally, take into account that there’s not anything preventing you from selecting up one in all every, in particular given how affordable those mini wise audio system are. I’m certain I’m now not the one one dwelling in a blended Alexa/Google Assistant family.

Base line

Similar to its predecessor, the Google Nest Mini wise speaker is succesful, clean to make use of, and whip-smart due to Google Assistant. Its enhancements over the House Mini are small but notable, together with quite greater sound, a mounting hollow, and delicate capacitive contact controls. And that 1/3 mic is helping it pay attention you while you’re around the room. Most significantly, despite the fact that, this small but artful wise speaker keeps the unique’s $49 price ticket, which makes including one (or some other one, or but some other one) to your own home an easy-to-swallow prospect.

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