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Google Home Mini Review: A Sleek Smart Home Hub Under $50

by Lisa Hayden
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Google Home Mini: What Does It Do? A Deep Dive Review Of Its Features!

In the days of yore, you had to have a separate device for everything. You had an alarm clock, kitchen timer, a landline phone, and the list goes on. All of these devices had to be set by hand and, while better than nothing, weren't incredibly convenient.

Today, basically everything has been automated to some degree, or at least more portable. The smartphone has basically replaced landline phones, alarms, and timers. The personal assistant has replaced the need to do these things by hand, allowing you to tell your personal assistant to perform various tasks. The personal assistant has become much more, however, and has evolved beyond your smartphone and into your home.

Smart speakers, the new gadgets sweeping the world, while needing to initially be set up with your smartphone, have evolved beyond the need to have your phone on you at all times to conjure your personal assistant. One of the most familiar companies ever, Google, has come out with a smart speaker that is not only affordable but functional and sounds great, the Google Home Mini. So what exactly is the Google Home Mini all about and what can it do? Check it out in the breakdown.

Sound quality

When you're talking about speakers audio quality is important. Nobody wants to spend money on a speaker that is tinny, crackly or causes a lot of distortion, it doesn't matter if it's a Bluetooth portable speaker or smart speaker. The last thing that you want is to set a timer when you are cooking and not hear it go off and burn your food, or worse yet, set an alarm for the morning and not wake up to it.

Thankfully the Google Home Mini is probably the best speaker that you can buy for $49, smart or otherwise. The audio quality is clear and it has great range. You will enjoy crisp audio whether you are listening to music, checking your commute in the morning or simply setting an alarm.

The Google Home Mini has 360 sounds with 40mm audio driver meaning that, for its size, it really bumps and can handle most music at all volumes except maybe full volume for music that has a lot going on or is incredibly bassy.

Cost

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One common misconception that people have when they think of smart homes is that it's really complicated and expensive. in some cases, this can be true. In this case, it couldn't be farther from the truth.

The Google Home Mini will run you the small, small fee of $49. For reference, the portable speaker that I use regularly, the UE Roll 2, runs you $65. The UE Roll is a great speaker, but it doesn't have even one single smart feature. The Google Home Mini brings you all of the Google smart features that the full-size Google Home offers, and for less than half the price.

All of the features, quality, and better yet, an introduction to the "smart home" means that the Google Home Mini makes a great case for affordability and functionality.

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Design

Google has some interesting designs. From the Google Home Mini, Google Home, and Google Home Max. Each device looks like a unique piece of modern art.

The Google Home Mini is a small circular speaker that is plastic on the bottom half and a fabric top that comes in chalk (grey), charcoal (black), and coral (red). Unlike the Google Home, you can't change out the colors on the fly, but it does feel like a premium material and the colors that it comes in will match most decor.

The Google Home Mini has a micro USB port on the back for charging and when you make requests of Google Assistantyou will see four LEDs on the top that blink and flash to indicate that your Google Home Mini is working on something.

To the left and right of the LEDs are small areas under the fabric that you can tap to lower or raise the volume and if you hold your finger on one of those areas you can start or stop music that is playing. On the back by the micro USB port is a mute switch that you can toggle if you'd like the Google Home Mini to stop listening to your voice.

Device support

One of the best parts about owning a smart home hub is the ability to connect to the huge ecosystem of devices that make your life easier. If you aren't familiar with smart home tech, you are able to do everything from control your lights and thermostat, to locking your door and closing the blinds.

So what are some ways that you can get into smart home tech without making it all complicated? Or what if you live in an apartment or a bedroom and you don't have the option to rewire your home for a thermostat or redo the locks for smart door locks? Below we are going to cover some simple devices that the Google Home Mini can connect to in order to extend its functionality.

Philips Hue

Philips Hue is one of my personal favorite smart home products. They make white and colored smart bulbs, light strips, accent lighting, lamps and more. The best part is that all of these devices work together, and with Google Home. You are able to scale to what you can afford and the bulbs simply screw into your existing ceiling light.

With Philips Hue, you are able to say commands like "turn the lights on/off", "dim the lights", and more. If you have colored lights you are able to say "change the lights to X" X being the color you want. You are also able to change the color of the light strips and the accent lighting.

Arlo

Arlo is a smart camera that works with the Google Home Mini and Chromecast. Arlo comes in several flavors but the basic function is that you place the camera wherever you want in range of WiFi. With the Chromecast plugged into a TV you can tell your Google Home Mini to display your camera on your television.

Belkin Wemo

Wemo is a really cool device that you plug into a wall and it turns your wall outlet into a smart outlet for your non-smart devices. You can turn your devices on and off with your voice. This works with non-smart lights, heaters and fans and more.

Chromecast

Google Home Mini on A table

Chromecast is a device in the Google family of products that turns any modern TV into a smart home connected TV. Chromecast allows you to do all kinds of things with your TV like playing Pandora, Netflix and more.

Netflix is probably the highlight of the Chromecast and Google Home Mini. With Netflix, you can tell your Google Home to play a show on your TV and the Chromecast will start playing the show where you left off, hands-free. The Google Home Mini can also turn your TV on and off as well as change the volume.

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Search engine

The Google Home Mini is powered by the world's most powerful search engine. Google searchis very good at getting your voice searches right the first time as it recognizes patterns in current events as well as the searches from other users. Other search engines specialize in other features like social media and images but Google is especially suited to contextual searches and will give you a seamless experience.

Voice recognition

One problem with smart speakers is that they're used by everyone in your household, whether that be your family or your roommates. Google solves this problem with voice match.

Voice match is a feature that you set up in the app and then when you talk to your Google Home Mini it will not only recognize your voice, but it will also access your specific information. Your Google Play music subscription, your contacts and more.

All this means that you will find the most relevant information for you. Personalization means that you won't be affecting someone else's accounts and when you ask your Google Home Mini to find your phone because you misplaced it, it will ring your phone and not your roommate's.

Native Google Play

Google play is a comprehensive service that offers music, book and more. When you tell your Google Home Mini to play a song or read you a book, it will be accessing the Google Play store.

All this means that you will get access to tons of songs and books, just by asking Google.

Radio stations

Gone are the days where you need a separate radio just to listen to your favorite stations. Now your Google Home can do it all. Simply asking the Google Home Mini to play a station will start it up and you will be listening in seconds through the Tune In app.

Timers and alarms

Now you can clear up some of the clutter in your kitchen counter by getting rid of that old kitchen timer. All you need to do to set a timer on the Google Home Mini is simply say "Hey Google, set a timer for X minutes/hours" and your timer will be set.

This feature works with alarms as well so if you have a Google Home Mini in your bedroom you can use it as an alarm clock.

Traffic to work

Not a morning person but still want to get stuff done? The Google Home Mini has you covered. You can check the traffic to work without even opening your eyes by just asking Google to check the traffic to work.

The Google Home Mini will let you know how heavy traffic is and you will know what time you need to leave to get there on time.

Weather information

How do you check the weather in the morning? However you do it, the Google Home Mini makes it easy. All you need to do is say "Hey Google, what's the weather tomorrow?" or whatever time period you want to know.

Find your phone feature

This is probably the feature that I use the most. Unfortunately, I lose my phone constantly. I set it down and forget where I left, and I'm always leaving it on silent. Fortunately for me, the Google Home Mini makes it easy to find it, even if the volume is off. Simply say "find my phone" and Google will make it ring like magic.

Conclusion

The Google Home Mini is a great device. It's affordable, it sounds awesome for the price and it has a lot of functionality. If you are looking for a smart speaker and smart home hub and you aren't sure where to start or what ecosystem to use, you won't be disappointed with the Google Home Mini.

Now it's your turn! Do you have a Google Home product? If so which one and why? If you don't have you considered the Google Home Mini? Is there a different smart speaker that you like ​​​​Let us know in the comments.

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