The war to win the smart speaker segment is easily the hottest emerging tech battle. Although many believe Amazon is already ahead in the game with its Alexa-enabled Echo speakers range, the e-commerce giant is expecting some serious competition though, from none other than Google. The latter company is the latest entrant in the smart speaker segment, with the Google Home and Google Home Mini in India, just a few months after Echo’s entry.
And both the smart speakers are now available in India. The Home Mini, which rivals Amazon’s Echo Dot, is the cheapest way to get the Google Assistant into your home. I have been testing Google’s Home Mini for a while now, and here’s my final verdict.
Google Home Mini price in India: Rs 4,499
Google Home Mini review: Design and build
Google Home Mini has a more attractive design as compared to the Amazon Echo Dot — and there is no second opinion about it. The Home Mini is a small, hockey- puck-sized device that can be easily fit in the palm of the hand. Since the device is so compact, it is best suited to be kept on the bedside table or your desktop.
Available in chalk and charcoal colour options, you’ will notice the fabric-covered cushion on the top and the matte plastic on the bottom half. The volume can be controlled by placing the finger – yes, it is touch-enabled – on the left and right side of the speaker. There is a row of four LEDs on the top and they will light up when your voice (remember, you have to speak the word “Hey Google”) gets recognised for any action. Google had earlier provided the touch-enabled controls on the top of the Home Mini to play/pause music and launch Google Assistant, but they are permanently disabled citing privacy concerns. And on the left of that port is the switch for disabling voice detection. Like the Amazon Echo Dot, Google Home Mini uses a micro-USB port to get power.
Google Home Mini review: Set-up and instructions
Setting up the Google Home Mini is an easy breezy task. First off, before you take the Home Mini out of the box, make sure you download the Google Home app from either the Play store or Apple App store. Choose the Wi-Fi network you’ would like your Google Home Mini to connect to, after which the app on the phone will then guide you to follow the step-by-step instruction.
Google Home Mini review: Performance
The Wi-Fi-enabled Google Home Mini does everything the Home does, the core difference however is the smaller form factor. It can set alarms, answer your questions, read news, connect to Saavn and other streaming services, all through using your voice. The idea behind the Assistant-enabled Home speakers is to promote its voice-activated search and who knows better than Google. Instead of tying your query, you will need to speak to get the results as simple as that.
All you have to ask “When was Albert Einstein born?“ or “Who is the President of USA?“ and the Home Mini will respond to your query. So, how well does the Home Mini perform? Well, one can always rely on Google for finding any answers and in that case the Home Mini doesn’t disappoint. For most direct questions, I got the answers – of course, in English. Speaking of the language support, Hindi is not one of them. However, Google says it will add the Hindi language support sometime later this year.
My only issue with the biggest grudge with the Google Home Mini is having to say that you have to address it “Hey Google“ every time. It’s annoying, but we know it is a security feature.
Plus, of course, Google Home Mini is compatible with a number of smart home products like . The list of partners include the likes of Nest, Philips Hue, TP-Link, and Wemo, among others. While the list of partners is still small, but it’s always fascinating to set to specific temperature or switch off lights using just your voice.
The Home Mini can be used to control movies and playback by voice when connected to my Google Chromecast. You can ask the Home Mini to play YouTube or Netflix and the content will appear right on the TV. I particularly liked this liked the feature. And, of course, the Home Mini works with the Google Chromecast Audio as well. The Home Mini can play music from Google Play Music, Gaana, and Saavn. Unfortunately, Apple Music and Amazon Music support are still missing at the moment and that is not really surprising at the moment. One can also use the Home Mini as a Bluetooth speaker, though there’s no external 3.5mm output to connect the device to another speaker unlike the Amazon Echo Dot.
Google Home Mini review: Sound quality and microphone performance
I was not surprised by the audio quality of the Home Mini. It’s fine for listening to casual music or podcasts in particular. There is no bass, but I do have to admit that the speaker can get fairly loud. The Home Mini should be ideal for a small room. The microphones are sensitive enough, the Home Mini was able to hear my voice from across the room.
Google Home Mini review: Final verdict
Google Home Mini is a great option, in case if you are looking for an entry-level smart speaker. Sure, it doesn’t sound as good as the Home, but it will get the job done. This is a proper smart speaker and is no way less capable than the Google Home, which costs Rs 9,999. Google Home Mini is directly competing with the Amazon Echo Dot, which has the same price as the Mini. If you have invested a lot into Google’s ecosystem, I would recommend the Home Mini.