Google Nest Mini Review: Looks the Same, Sounds a Bit Better
Google announced a second-generation Home Mini speaker, rebranded as Nest Mini, earlier this year.
The Nest Mini is available in colours Chalk, Charcoal, Coral and Sky and retails for $69 CAD but when on sale, can be as low as $39 CAD. In the box, you get the Nest Mini and the AC adapter and power cord. This time around, the Nest Mini is charged via AC and not micro USB.
It looks like a hockey puck and is identical to its predecessor, the Google Home Mini. This year, there are three far-field microphones to pick up your voice from across the room, while the back also now has a built-in wall mount. The anti-slip material on the bottom does pick up a lot of dust and lint, still.
Setting up a Nest Mini is really easy with the Google Home iOS app, which does require a Google Account. Once set up, you can start asking the speaker powered by Google Assistant anything, from playing music, to listening to the news and more.
You can pair two Nest Mini speakers to make a stereo pair, or add it to an existing group of Google or Nest speakers. This allows you to stream music throughout your home.
For 2019, the Nest Mini comes with bass that’s advertised as twice as stronger than the former Google Home Mini, and in our casual tests, it’s definitely noticeable. The bass is not earthshaking, but it’s better than nothing for a speaker this size and is very capable for a small room.
Google says the Nest Mini is adaptive and knows if there’s background noise, so when it answers your questions, it’ll reply louder, or adjust the volume of podcasts and news dynamically.
Also, we forgot to mention the Nest Mini has a local dedicated machine learning chip, capable of one TeraOPS of processing power. This reduces the need for Google Assistant to talk to a data center, but rather learn commands right on the speaker, for faster responses to your queries.
Top: Nest Mini; Bottom: Google Home Mini
Some of the best features of the Nest Mini (and Google Home Mini), if you have multiple speakers around the house, is the ability to use them as intercoms. You can just say, “Hey Google, broadcast [any message]” and it will send to all speakers. This is also possible from the Google Home app. Makes calling everyone for supper time really easy, or asking for help with groceries from the garage.
Left: Nest Mini; Right: Google Home Mini
Another is the ability for your Nest Mini (and other Google or Nest speaker) to act as your doorbell, for your Nest Hello or another smart doorbell. With Visitor announcements enabled in the Nest app, your Nest speaker will say, “Someone’s at the front door” or also read out specific people at the front door (such as, “Steve Jobs is at the front door”), part of the Nest Aware subscription with Nest Hello.
Left: Nest Mini; Right: Google Home Mini (war torn fabric)
The Nest Mini also supports Voice Match, so it can distinguish between various people in your household and give personalized responses. It can also use Duo to call mobile phones and more. But with a blocked caller ID, calling a landline resulted in one of our calls being rejected for not having a caller ID.
While the new Nest Mini has a wall mount on the back, it still results in a visible cable. What’s better are third-party mounts which can hide the cord for a clean look. Compare our Google Home Mini versus the Nest Mini below:
Here’s our Google Home Mini in the kitchen with the Mount Genie from Amazon.ca, which costs $6.67 CAD each. It hides the cable completely and makes for a clean looking speaker from the wall outlet:
The third-party market doesn’t have a lot of Nest Mini wall mounts yet and the one above used for the Home Mini doesn’t fit the newer wall plug in the Nest Mini.
Is it worth upgrading your all your Google Home Minis to Nest Mini units? Not at this time. The changes aren’t significant enough at this point, in our opinion. You’re better off getting a Nest Hub Max or another Nest Hub.
The bottom line? If you’re tied into the Google ecosystem, a Nest Mini brings improved sound and a bit more bass compared to the original Home Mini. Despite being so small, it makes for a great intercom as well. Google Assistant is by far the best virtual assistant out there, far more knowledgeable and capable than Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, and is a must-have for anyone with a Nest Hello Video doorbell.
You can check out more about the Nest Mini here–it’s still on sale for $39 in Canada as part of an extended Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale.