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Google Home Mini smart speaker review
- Access to Google Assistant
- Underwhelming music sound quality
- No audio line-out
As long as you don't care about music quality, the Mini is a welcome addition to the Google Home smart speaker family.
Price$ 79.00 (AUD)
The volume frustrations are less of an issue with the Google Home Mini because the tiny speaker really doesn't cut it when it comes to listening to music. It's an understandable trade-off considering the size and price, as well as the fact that Google offers the Home and Home Max.
The Mini's speaker is optimised for voice and goes surprisingly loud without distortion, so you can hear the voice clearly across the room. It's perfect for listening to podcasts or online talk radio, but music lovers will be underwhelmed by the lack of low-end.
Even the standard Google Home is underwhelming if you're serious about your sound quality – which is where the Google Home Max will come into play – but also keep in mind the multi-room audio king Sonos is embracing smart speakers with support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant in the new Sonos One. Meanwhile the Apple HomePod promises decent sound quality, with the Sonos One adding support for Apple AirPlay 2 streaming next year.
Thankfully Google's smart speakers can stream music to other speakers around your home connected to $59 Chromecast Audio adaptors, although things can become a little clunky when you've got multiple users relying on multiple speakers and Google needs to iron out a few kinks.
To make life easier you can set the Home Mini to automatically play music through another speaker by default, so you don't need to explain this to Google Assistant every time, but unfortunately the Mini lacks the 3.5mm audio line-out found on its Amazon counterpart the Echo Dot – which lets you connect the Dot to an external speaker.
Size and sound quality aside, the Home Mini is just as capable as the standard Google Home. You can control smart home devices, ask general search queries and access your personal data to check on calendar appointments, travel times and weather forecasts hands-free. It's particularly useful in the kitchen, where you can convert recipe measurements, set timers and add things to your shopping list without touching your smartphone with dirty hands.
The Mini is a great addition to those corners of your home where you'd benefit from access to a talkative smart assistant but don't need to worry about music quality, either because you already have decent speakers in that area or music quality isn't important. In some homes it might cut the mustard as a bathroom speaker which you can control hands-free from the shower, although keep in mind it's not rated as moisture-proof like the Sonos Play:1.
The smart speaker war is hotting up, but if you're happy to stick with Google then the Mini is a great way to dip your toe in the water. The only drawback is the music quality, which is to be expected at this price point, but if you're prepared for that then the Mini should make for a welcome addition to your home.
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