I recently picked up a couple of Google Home Mini wireless speakers and assistant. At $29 I thought these speakers were a steal, especially compared to $49 price tag of the Amazon Echo Dot speaker that I have in our lounge room and in our bedroom. So this is a face off between the two, here goes!
1. Sound quality
The Alexa Dot is the loser here. There is no escaping the noticeable lack of anything mid-range or anything resembling bass. It is unfortunate that the compromise made with this speaker is on sound quality. BUT! This speaker can pair with any other Bluetooth speaker. That's a win. This speaker also has a 3.5mm audio output as well. The Google Home Mini has a much more enjoyable sound for the money.
Both devices are 'Smart' speaker assistants, so of course, they are always connected to the internet over Wi-Fi, which is tethered utilizing an app on your smart phone. Once you're up and running, the Amazon Echo Dot wins here thanks to my previous point as it has the ability to connect to other bluetooth speakers, which the Google Home Mini sadly and inexplicably does not. For some reason Google has chosen to cripple the Bluetooth connectivity on the Home Mini which I'm hopeful they will update, there's also no audio output port either.
There are two areas here that this breaks down to, first is the delivery of voice assistance and how natural each assistant sounds and the second is the microphones and each unit's ability to understand the request. Google Home Mini wins on the former and loses on the latter. The Home Mini sounds pretty natural to speak to all the time, and that was part of the appeal for me to purchase.
The Amazon Echo Dot has always sounded a bit more robotic and jarring to listen to, but where the Dot wins is in the microphone department. This is the biggest failing I've found with Google Home Mini, it sucks at picking up what I say... like REALLY SUCKS. The Dot can pick us up at least 75-80% of the time, the Home Mini seems to be about 50% or worse.
The Google Home Mini irritates me due to a constant failure to pick up instructions, if it did, and it could connect to other larger speakers in at least one other way it might be my pick. The Amazon Echo Dot is the winner, even taking into consideration 'Alexa' sounds less natural and the speaker is a weaker performer... it works more consistently, and you can pair it easily with a better speaker, like the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air, which I recommend ;)
If you were using the Google Home Mini in a smaller room, and don't feel the need to have the option to output to a bigger or better speaker, this device might just be for you.
- Very minor gripes with the Google Home Mini is that it doesn't loop audio, so when we use it at home to play white or brown noise while sleeping (helps drown out the subway) the Echo Dot plays repeatedly all night while the Home Mini plays for an hour and stops.
- The design of the Home is admittedly nicer overall but the volume buttons aren't visible so you have to 'try and see' when turning up or lowering the volume.
- The LED lights on the Home Mini are not visible unless you are standing up or above it, the Echo Dot LEDs are clear to see from above or side on, and indicate in the direction.