Amazon is clearly leading the smart home segment with its Echo speakers and the $50 Alexa-powered Echo Dot remains the best-selling smart speaker in the world. Google is another big player in the smart speaker market, but its market share has only seen a decline in the past few quarters. To fend off Amazon from the top position, Google has released an updated version of its entry-level Google Assistant-powered smart speaker. The Nest Mini, which will compete with the latest Echo Dot with Clock, promises to offer better sound and fast processing. I tried out the Nest Mini and here’s how it competes with Amazon’s newest Echo Dot.
Google Nest Mini price in India: Rs 4499
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock price in India: Rs 5499
Google Nest Mini vs Echo Dot with Clock: Design
The Nest Mini is identical to the Google Home Mini released in 2017. This puck-like speaker is 1.65-inches tall and 3.85-inches in diameter and has a fabric-covered top-half and a rubber bottom. Similar to its predecessor, the Nest Mini has four LEDs placed in the middle of the top panel. The volume buttons are capacitive and located on the sides of the speaker. When you touch each side of the device, the volume goes up and down.
There’s no 3.5-mm audio jack to connect an external speaker (the Echo Dot does offer one), but there is Bluetooth support. The Nest Mini features a microphone off slider switch on the side, so you can disable the microphone anytime. The speaker is powered by a 15-watt power adapter connected to a DC power jack.
The biggest change to the design is a small hole on the back of the device that allows you to mount it on a wall. This is where the Nest Mini is superior to the new Echo Dot. The speaker is available in chalk and charcoal. We got the charcoal colour for review.
Google Nest Mini vs Echo Dot with Clock: Audio
Although Google claims it made major improvements in audio quality on the Nest Mini, I was not that impressed. While the speaker sounds better than the Home Mini, the Nest Mini couldn’t match the new Echo Dot. To test both speakers, I listened to the same songs at mid-volume. Without any doubt, the Echo Dot had loud sound and was comparatively more powerful in producing bass (yes, bass). The Nest Mini, in contrast, distorts at higher volumes and doesn’t even get loud. Rihanna’s “Diamonds” sounded dull on the Nest Mini. And when I increased the volume, the audio started getting fussy. Though for a change, I was impressed by the way how the Nest Mini detects voice and responds to commands in a noisy room.
Google Nest Mini vs Echo Dot with Clock: Google Assistant vs Alexa
Being made by Google, the Nest Mini is made to take advantage of Google Assistant. Just use the wake word “Hey Google” or “Ok Google” to make commands to control the music, check the latest weather, ask for the latest news and so on. Of course, you can also control your other smart home devices, all with your voice.
Though I would say the Google Assistant’s compatibility with smart home devices pales in comparison to Alexa. But where Google Assistant has an edge over Alexa is in voice-based search results. Through voice, you can actually find recipes in seconds, or play audio-based games on the Nest Mini. Amazon’s Alexa, on the other hand, relies on third-party skills (or voice apps) to access the information you want — news, podcasts or jokes — just through the voice.
Then there’s also an onboard Machine Learning chip that can handle most of the requests right on the speaker. Usually, the Nest Mini would send the requests to a Google data server and pass it back down. With a new chip, the device now processes commands locally. And I did notice a difference in the response time.
Google Nest Mini vs Echo Dot with Clock: Which one to buy?
Whether you buy the Nest Mini or Echo Dot really depends on your preference. There are people who might want to go with the Alexa-enabled Echo Dot with LED Clock. At Rs 5499, the Echo Dot is a better smart speaker but it’s also expensive. Still, the new Echo Dot has improved the overall sound experience and that is where the Nest Mini loses points. The Nest Mini strictly caters to Google Assistant fans and I would only recommend the Mini to those who are into the Google ecosystem. For the rest, the Echo Dot with Clock is a better option even if it costs slightly more than the Nest Mini.
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