There was a lot of hype around the Google Home Mini when it was released a few months ago. I’ve heard many awesome things regarding the smart speaker so I kept my eyes peeled for a good deal. The perfect opportunity came in December when I was researching the Amazon Echo Dot against the Google Home Mini. I received an email from Google Express advertising the smart speaker for the sale price of $30 and a 20% off entire shopping cart promotion. With an amazing deal like that, I decided to pull the trigger.
After using the Google Home Mini for the past few weeks, I was able to experience the form, sound, and functional performance of the smart hub. With the addition of some TP-Link Smart Plugs to enable the customized features, I got a taste of what it’s like to live in a smart home.
Design: Subtle and Small
If I had to compare the Google Home Mini to a food item, the shape of it is close to that of a filled doughnut. The top half is comprised of fabric mesh and the bottom half is a matte plastic. A mic switch is located in the bottom half of the device for the user to mute the mic and prevent it from listening for commands.
For those who worry about it clashing with the aesthetics of your room, the Google Home Mini is quite small. Depending on the color, it can blend into any room. Of course, this would be different if it’s the Coral colorway, but the other two colors (chalk and charcoal) are quite subtle.
Performance: Smart, But Needs Help
The Google Assistant as part of the Google Home Mini can help perform certain actions but is quite limited. It can tell you important information to help guide you through your day, like the local weather or current traffic reports. To have it work with other electronics or services, you would have to configure the device with the appropriate apps.
Once the apps are set up with the Google Home Mini, it’s basically like having a lesser form of Tony Stark’s home computing system, J.A.R.V.I.S. It can access different parts of the house by the use of voice commands.
Here are some custom voice commands I’ve created:
- Saying “OK, Google. Lumos!” turns on the nightstand lamp. (shoutout to Harry Potter fans!)
- Saying “OK, Google. Arm the alarm.” sets my work alarm.
- Saying “OK, Google. Turn off the heater.” shuts off the space heater in my bedroom.
- Saying “OK, Google. Play ‘The Punisher’ on Netflix” turns on the TV and plays “The Punisher.”
- Saying “OK, Google. Music time!” plays my Spotify playlist.
Note: Some of these above voice commands and actions require the use of smart plugs.
The sound quality from this smart speaker is decent, but don’t expect anything more. As a speaker for a small room, it’ll do the job. And for ~$30, you’re basically getting what you pay for.
As an introductory smart-home controller and music speaker, it can do a lot for such a cheap price. It has made certain things easier to do around the house because I can have the Google Assistant do it for me.
However, it’s not a necessity for any household and is more of a luxury. There’s no real legitimate reason to purchase it except for the experience of having a smart-home. If that’s something you’re interested in, give the Google Home Mini a shot.