Google Home Mini 2018 Review- Digital Home Assistant That Works

The Google Home Mini is marketed as a digital home assistant that can provide a wealth of information and help out around the home (providing you have compatible devices) but does it really live up to the hype. I review the Google Home after using it for 7 months.

Aesthetics

Unlike the Amazon Echo the Google home mini has no visible buttons. The clean modern look is something that appeals to me, allowing for discrete placement and should fit in well with most home interiors. As the name suggest its very small, which is actually something i prefer compared to the full size Google home. Yes the Larger Google home offers vastly improved sound but don’t let that put you off, more on the sound later.

The home mini comes in 3 colors, grey, green and a red. I was brought the grey which is my preferred choice (luckily). Weighing in at only 170 grams its not bulky, often i have considered actually attaching it to my wall. Being a geek i think this would look awesome compared to having it sat in the corner of the room, however being in a rented property I’m out of luck there.

When you say “Ok Google” there is a visual 3 dot lighting element that lights up on the top of the device, this allows you to know that Google has heard you and is listing for your command.

Sound Quality

As mentioned the Google home has a much larger speaker compared to the mini, however i was shocked at how good the sound quality is from such a small device. The bass is deep and the voice notes are crystal clear. I think you would struggle to get the same sound quality from a portable Bluetooth sound bar at the same price range.

Volume control is as easy as saying “Ok google” “turn it up” or “turn it down” which increases the volume 10% each time. On the highest setting volume is extremely loud, enough to fill a large room and then some.

Music Playback

After setting the Home mini up i was excited to try out some music tho i was quickly disappointed in that all there where no free options to output music streaming. Google home music and Spotfiy both require a paid subscription. For me this is a big issue, having to pay a monthly price to stream music, yet its free to play music via YouTube. I assume this is blocked using voice commands due to YouTube’s advertising revenue not being compatible with audio alone.

You can get around this by playing YouTube videos on your PC and then casting the sound to your Google Home Mini, Yes its not practical but it works. Setup your own YouTube playlists and you should get uninterrupted music, you just cant control the playlist using voice commands.

Personally i would of like use of YouTube to be included with the Google Home and in some respects i think Google are missing a trick here. They could offer another revenue stream that plays audio ads before ever X number of YouTube plays, like Radio do but for now Casting music is how i play music.

On a side note you can play free Radio station which is something i often use when i’m doing house work. Just a simple “Ok Google” “play BBC Radio” and on it comes.

Voice Commands

The Google Home Mini is pretty clever in how it detects voice commands. My son absolutely loves saying “Ok Google” and for it to pick up his not so clear speech is pretty incredible.

The information given makes use of Googles own search engine, basically performing the search for you and reading out snippets of information it believes to answers your query.  Due to this the reliance of Googles ability to detect the right website to get the information from is critical to its operation. Fortunately Google do a great job in this department. I’ve not really had an occurrence where Google has read wrong information or been unable to answer my question.

The amount of features you can do with the Google home are too long to list, however one of the main features i use it for it a cooking timer. “Ok Google” “set a timer for 15 minutes” and ill be notified when my gooey brownies are ready, perfect.

Controls

Initial link up is simple, Plugin the Home Mini into the wall socket using the provided cable, install the Google home app and launch, Follow the Setup Process with a few steps and the device is up and running.

The Google home app allows you to add multiple devices and link them together. I only have one so i’ve been unable to test this feature out.

The app provides suggestions and way you can use the Google Home Mini for example getting traffic data, setting alarms or getting weather forecasts.

The Google Home Mini also supports IFTTT (If this then that) which allows you to easily configure your own commands for example creating a new event on your iPhone, adding calendar notes to your phone, sending text messages and many more. You can view a full lists of ideas on the IFTT.com website.

 

My thoughts

As you can probably tell i really like the Google Home Mini Digital Home Assistant. My son enjoys learning new things so for this reason along it gets a big plus in my book. The ease of setup and use makes this device a joy to have around the home. But it does lack free music support which is a pain however with a few simple work around you can enjoy as much music as you wish. Updates are frequent and i can only imagine what the device will do in a year from now. For the price i think its a great bit of a kit and something worth buying if you have a spare £50 or in the market for a digital home assistant.

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