The next-generation Google’s mini speaker assistant is available in Singapore from 23 October. Called Nest Mini, it takes over the “Nest” sub-brand for home networking products. The launch retail price of S$79 is the same as the predecessor.
The Nest Mini retail box is larger than the Home Mini, but the actual unit is the same size. It is probably just an aesthetic decision to give the impression of a more imposing product. You can see below that there are only three items in the box.
The Nest Mini uses a round-pin power connector instead of micro USB, which means I can no longer power up the speaker with portable USB power source.
The entire bottom section of the Nest Mini is coated with matt silicone for grip. On the Home Mini, only the orange base is frictioned. It might be just a decision for manufacturing efficiency since it would be easier to just apply the coating on the entire plastic mould, while the Home Mini’s base is a separate component.
I appreciate the Nest Mini having a universal wall mount slot so that the Nest Mini can easily be wall-mounted without having to purchase third party attachments. It would be nice if Google included mounting screws in the package, but I reckon Google thought it would not look cool.
The Nest Mini now comes with additional LED lights on both sides of the speaker. This is to guide users to tap on the sides to adjust volume. On the first-generation Home Mini, there was no visual guide to adjust volume, and some owners went on their lives without realising they could actually control playback by touching on the top fabric.
When placed on the table, the Nest Mini and Home Mini appear identical, but the Nest Mini has a few improvements:
Better Sound Quality
The Nest Mini delivers better bass. Its bass does not reverberate like Bose or JBL, but it is better than Home Mini. I compared and found the Nest Mini to be even better sounding than the Nest Hub.
The Nest Mini has a dedicated machine learning chip and one TeraOPS of processing power, so that a lot of responses do not go to the data centres before getting answers. In real life, I do not find the speed to be significantly faster, but I am sure certain scenarios should get quicker responses.
Some updates on the Nest Mini appears to apply also to the older speakers, showing Google’s dedication to ensure the products get regular improvements. For instance, you can now move the music from one speaker to another, just say “move the music to [other] room speaker”. You can also make intercom calls from one speaker to another, but this feature require enabling Google Duo through the settings for individual Google Home/Nest products. With Duo enabled, the speakers can also be used for making voice calls. You can even call home using Google Home app and answer the call from the Home/Nest speaker. With all these capabilities that rides on data traffic, there would be no need for mobile voice service.
Should You Get One?
The upcoming Google Nest Wifi will have built-in Google Assistant, which means it will work like Google Nest Mini. The speaker quality of the Nest Wifi is way better. If you intend to purchase Nest Wifi, then you should not get the Nest Mini.
Between the Nest Mini and Home Mini, the former has mere minor improvements which I find not significant enough for an upgrade. The improved bass on the Nest Mini is still not satisfying enough. I would still choose Home Mini if it’s selling at a reduced price. But if there are no price difference, then it would be a no-brainer to buy the latest Nest Mini.
But, should you even get one for the home? With so much discussions and concerns about privacy, Google is trying hard to convince users that your privacy and data is protected. Once you get over this mental hurdle, then you should get one and experience it yourself. Or, you can already start by activating your Google Assistant on your Android phone to see if it works for you.
After running Google Home and Mini at my residence for over a year, my family has gradually grown to appreciate Google Assistant, though it still remains frustrating at times to get the command right the first time. For our case, with so many smart lighting, we always find it hard to quickly operate the various lights, adjust the intensity and colour. It is easy to just turn on all lights, but more effort is needed if you want to turn on multiple devices. Sometimes, it is faster to just walk to the wall switch and tap the controls.
But the Google Assistant is not just about operating smart devices. You can ask Google anything about news, weather, searches, directions, play games, set reminders and alarms. You can even ask Google to find your phone that you misplaced around the house. My wife was impressed that Google could turn on the alarm on the missing phone even though it was on silent.
My recommendation is to get one and have fun with it. S$79 is not that expensive, and you might even get it at a discount, or free, with launch promo bundles.