Google Nest Mini: big audio, small size
Don't be fooled: the Nest Mini is actually the second generation of the Google Home Mini rather than a new version of Google's smart thermostat products. They look remarkably similar too, but the new smart speaker has some changes to make it worth considering. Google is going big on the audio side of things with the Nest Mini, claiming it has big audio (it does) and improved microphones so your Nest Mini will work better in noisy environments. And now it can be wall mounted, which makes a big difference if you are short on counter space.
If you aren't familiar with the Google Home Mini though, read on. The round speaker is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but its mini size doesn't mean it is short on power. The top half of the device is covered in fabric; under that is a series of LED lights that activate when you are interacting with the speaker.
The speaker itself is touch sensitive. Tap the centre to play and pause; tap right and left to change volume.
There are the obvious privacy issues of having a smart speaker in your home. After all, its function is to listen to your every utterance, waiting for the phrase to kick it into action. Sometimes that happens accidentally, meaning your smart speaker is recording your conversations without you expressly telling it to do so. Maybe that doesn't concern you, but there will be times that you don't want anyone eavesdropping, even inadvertently.
On the back of the speaker, you have a small button that will turn the microphone on and off. When it is turned off, the four LEDs in the speaker glow orange and the speaker will tell you the mic is turned off; when you switch it back on, the LEDs turn back to white.
So, is it any better than the first generation? There are some obvious improvements in sound and its ability to pick up your voice in a noisier environment.
The good: The Google Nest Mini works well as both a smart assistant and an audio speaker, despite its small size. Plus the improvements Google has made to both the assistant and the microphone make it easier to use.
The not so good: There are no real flaws with the Google Nest Mini, but if you already have one, there's no reason to ditch it to upgrade to the second generation. It will, however, fit in well with your existing set up.
The rest: The wall mount is handy if you want to free up some counter space.
The verdict: Don't ditch the first generation, but if you are in the market for a new smart speaker, the Nest Mini is a good option.
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