You can’t be blamed for mistaking the $49 Nest Mini for its two-year-old predecessor, the (additionally $49) Google Home Mini. Indeed, the largest distinction between the 2 good audio system, which look nearly an identical apart from just a few iterative design tweaks, is perhaps Google’s determination (which I nonetheless discover complicated, frankly) to swap out the “Home” moniker for “Nest,” following within the footsteps of the re-branded Google Nest Hub and the latest Google Nest Hub Max.
Still, there are some laudable adjustments right here, although none that demand handing over your present Home Mini(s) to your native recycling heart. Among the enhancements: marginally higher sound, a brand new mounting gap, an extra built-in microphone, and a machine-learning chip designed to make Google Assistant quicker and smarter over time. The Nest Mini’s capacitive contact controls have additionally been shuffled and refined, though they could nonetheless confuse somebody who isn’t aware of the speaker’s tips.
So, must you improve? Given the Nest Mini’s cheap price ticket (which is able to most likely see steep and periodic reductions within the coming months, if historical past is any information), a greater query is: must you purchase a Nest Mini to go along with your present Home Mini? By all means, sure, significantly given the upcoming Nest residence monitoring options that each the Nest Mini and Home Mini will help. More on that in a bit.
If you haven’t jumped on the good speaker bandwagon but, the Google Nest Mini makes for an awesome place to start out, significantly when you’re a loyal Google consumer. Of course, the $49 Amazon Echo Dot stays a worthy Nest Mini competitor, significantly in terms of Alexa’s dominance within the space of good residence voice management. That mentioned, contemplating their cheap worth tags, you don’t essentially want to select one over the opposite—even when you use an Android smartphone.
Set the Nest Mini subsequent its predecessor and also you’ll have issue telling them aside. They each bear the identical telltale oval form when seen from the facet, the identical material overlaying (in chalk, coral, and charcoal colours, with a brand new sky shade changing the Home Mini’s aqua taste), and the identical 4 LEDs peeking by the highest of the material when Google Assistant is awake and chatting.
Look a little bit extra intently, nonetheless, and also you pick some key variations. Turn the Nest Mini over and also you’ll spot the brand new mounting gap, which makes it simple to hold the Nest Mini on a hook or (when you’ve pounded it in far sufficient) the top of a nail.
It’s not stunning that Google added a built-in mounting choice on the Nest Mini, given the big selection of third-party mounting equipment that sprouted up for the Home Mini. That mentioned, the only mounting gap signifies that cable administration is as much as you; and belief me, with out some assist in your half, the Nest Mini’s charging cable received’t dangle completely straight alongside the wall prefer it does in Google’s press photographs. Score one for third-party mounts just like the Mount Genie that hang the Google Home Mini from an AC outlet, with its extra energy wire neatly wound across the mount.
Another small distinction has to do with the Nest Mini’s charging port. Gone is the Micro-USB port that sits within the base of the Home Mini, it’s been changed by a barrel-shaped charging port. That’s a little bit of a disgrace, provided that you can swap out the Home Mini’s unique charging cable with a third-party, 5V Micro-USB charger, nevertheless it’s a protected wager that the Nest Mini’s 15W energy draw calls for a extra strong 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 look roughly the identical because the Home Mini’s, however you’ll discover some enhancements when you dig a little bit deeper. As far as similarities go, the Nest Mini’s mic mute change is an identical to the one on the bottom of the Home Mini, and sure, flipping the change nonetheless necessitates holding the speaker regular with one hand when you slide the change with the opposite.
Also unchanged are the invisible capacitive buttons on the left and proper facet of the Nest Mini that allow you to increase and decrease the amount. On the Home Mini, these capacitive buttons additionally allow you to pause and restart your tunes with a protracted press.
The Nest Mini does change issues up a bit by letting you faucet the highest of the speaker to pause your music. Indeed, that was the unique intent with the Home Mini, till it turned out that the highest button—which was additionally purported to allow you to summon Google Assistant with out talking the wake phrase001—may very well be inadvertently activated by the fabric itself. Google ended up transferring the play/p0ause button performance to the perimeters earlier than the unique Home Mini shipped to prospects, and even now with the Nest Mini, tapping the highest button received’t wake Assistant.
In one other considerate change, built-in proximity sensors activate new LEDs on either side when your hand nears the speaker, primarily tipping you off that these invisible facet quantity buttons are prepared and ready.
While the Nest Mini’s hidden capacitive buttons are actually intelligent and lend a cleaner look to the speaker’s design, there’s one thing to be mentioned for bodily buttons with clearly marked performance—and sure, we’re primarily serious about the Amazon Echo Dot, with quantity and mic mute buttons that sit in plain sight on the highest of the machine.
Chatting with Google Assistant
Of course, you’ll spend much more time speaking to the Nest Mini than tapping it. Thanks to the huge pool of searchable information at Google’s disposal, Google Assistant stays the neatest of the digital assistants we’ve tried, often doling out solutions to questions that go away its opponents shrugging their digital shoulders. Assistant is even higher when you’ve organized your life round your Google account, helpfully alerting you to approaching appointments, sending driving instructions to your telephone, and even (because of the Nest Mini’s help for Google’s Duo voice- and video-calling app) making voice calls to your Google contacts.
Google added a brand new machine studying chip to the Nest Mini, permitting it to spice up the responsiveness of Google Assistant by dealing with extra of its processing chores regionally quite than within the cloud. The chip also needs to assist Assistant get a deal with in your favourite instructions and requests extra rapidly.
Over time, the Nest Mini’s machine studying chip could effectively reap advantages in terms of rushing up its efficiency, however in my preliminary testing, Assistant on the Nest Mini nonetheless took a beat or two to reply to my queries, about the identical as on the Home Mini (or the Echo Dot, for that matter).
Google additionally says that it’s added a 3rd far-field microphone to the Nest Mini, making it simpler for the speaker to listen to you while you’re throughout the room. In my checks, the Nest Mini outperformed the Home Mini’s listening abilities by a tad, listening to me from a superb 30 ft away whereas I used to be talking in a standard voice, with a whirring fan close by. The Home Mini might solely hear me once I was nearer than 25 ft away—nonetheless not unhealthy, however sure, that third mic does make a distinction.
Controlling your good gadgets
It’s nonetheless robust to beat Alexa in terms of good residence management, with Amazon’s digital assistant almost ubiquitous in terms of good devices that help voice instructions. That mentioned, third-party help for Google Assistant has taken huge strides up to now couple of years, with an increasing number of good gadgets supporting each Alexa and Assistant (Apple’s HomePackage can also be catching on, albeit rather more slowly). Indeed, Google claims that greater than 30,000 good devices supply Google Assistant help, together with such huge manufacturers as Philips Hue and TP-Link.
If you’ve gotten different Nest gadgets in your house, it’s a no brainer to sprinkle Nest good audio system round, so there’s at all times one withing talking distance. Google gives tight integration between Google Assistant and Nest cameras, doorbells, thermostats, and its Nest Secure residence safety system. What’s to not like about asking Google to show up the warmth utilizing a close-by Nest Mini speaker?
Speaking of Nest, the Nest Mini makes for an awesome companion to Google’s about-to-be-cheaper-and-better Nest Aware subscription service, which (beginning in early 2020) you’ll be capable of be part of for as little as $6 a month. In specific, we’re pondering of Nest Aware’s upcoming potential to warn you if it hears suspicious sounds or something that portends hazard, equivalent to breaking glass, canines barking, or the whine of a carbon monoxide alarm.
Given the Nest Mini’s cheap price ticket, you can simply increase Nest Aware’s listening protection by placing a number of of the small audio system all through your home, particularly close to doorways or smoke detectors.
Music and sound high quality
Google says its added a customized driver to the Nest Mini to provide it as much as twice the bass response of the Home Mini, whereas software program enhancements ought to assist to ship clearer sound with much less distortion. Still, you shouldn’t count on nice audio efficiency from small good audio system just like the Nest Mini or Amazon’s Third-gen Echo Dot.
After A/B testing the Nest Mini and Home Mini, I’ll say the brand new driver and Google’s software program tweaks assist the Nest Mini sound at the least marginally higher with music. It’s a little bit clearer and punchier than on the tinny, bass-deprived Home Mini, however don’t count on something rivaling that of the $100 Google Home, an Amazon Echo Show good show, or a $200 Sonos One. Instead, “tolerable” is the phrase that involves thoughts when describing the Echo Mini’s sound high quality, which is at the least an improve over plain-old “bad.”
You can pair both of Google’s small good audio system with a extra highly effective Bluetooth speaker, however Amazon presents each that choice and a 3.5mm analog output on the Echo Dot, so you may join it to wired audio system. And like Amazon, Google allows you to create a stereo pair utilizing two Nest Minis, however Amazon one-ups its rival as soon as once more by providing the choice of including a wireless subwoofer to most of its good audio system—together with stereo pairs. Google does have a cool new “stream transfer” feature that allows you to ask the Nest Mini to maneuver any tunes that it’s enjoying to a different Home, Nest, or Chromecast-enabled speaker.
We additionally like that the Nest Mini is appropriate with many of the main music streaming providers, together with YouTube Music (natch), Pandora, and Spotify, and it’ll present up within the Spotify desktop and cellular apps as a Spotify Connect machine, so you need to use Spotify’s personal app with the speaker.
Besides (modestly) bettering the Nest Mini’s sound high quality, Google additionally added a function that reinforces the audio system sound while you’re listening to the information or a podcast whereas, for instance, the dishwasher is working, or if 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 velocity whereas NPR was enjoying on the Nest Mini, and certainly, the speaker bumped up the amount a tad, though the increase wasn’t all that dramatic.
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the Nest Mini’s intercom and voice-calling skills. Just say “Hey Google, call kitchen” to name a Home or Nest speaker within the kitchen, or “Hey Google, call Joe Turner” to dial one in all your Google contacts (with assist 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. Both good audio system are the identical worth, roughly the identical measurement, and have the identical fundamental performance. 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 extra sensible. Google Assistant is healthier at answering random questions, however Alexa will get the nod in terms of smart-home ubiquity.
Ultimately, it comes all the way down to the good assistant during which you’re most invested. If you’re all about taking management of your good residence with Alexa’s myriad abilities, you’ll most likely need to follow the Echo Dot, no matter any enhancements Google cooked up for the Nest Mini. By the identical token, those that closely rely upon Google providers or who shield their properties with Nest gadgets ought to go together with the Nest Mini.
Also, remember that there’s nothing stopping you from selecting up one in all every, significantly given how cheap these mini good audio system are. I’m positive I’m not the one one residing in a blended Alexa/Google Assistant family.
Just like its predecessor, the Google Nest Mini good speaker is succesful, simple to make use of, and whip-smart because of Google Assistant. Its enhancements over the Home Mini are small but notable, together with barely higher sound, a mounting gap, and refined capacitive contact controls. And that third mic helps it hear you while you’re throughout the room. Most importantly, although, this small but intelligent good speaker retains the unique’s $49 price ticket, which makes including one (or one other one, or yet one more one) to your property an easy-to-swallow prospect.