Google Home Mini

Google's October 4 launch event may have seen most of the attention focused on the new Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, but the search giant had a boatload of other new devices to announced, with the Google Home Mini being the cheapest of the pack.

At just US$49/ £49/ AU$79 the Google Home Mini is a smart speaker that's directly going after the similarly priced Amazon Echo Dot.

It's packed with Google's own Assistant, is covered in a soft-touch mesh material and boasts touch, as well as voice controls.

The palm-sized Google Home Mini


The cutesy, hockey puck design of the Google Home Mini is a stylish one, and as is the trend with the current crop of smart speakers it's come mostly covered in a soft-touch mesh material.

This gives it a more subtle look, and one that should fade into the background of your home, rather than stick out like a sore thumb.

To give you an idea of its size, it fits nicely in the palm, or as Google points out, it's the same size as a donut. It's about a fifth of the size of the standard Google Home.

And we can confirm that fact as we munched on the sugary snack while we inspected Google's latest smart home speaker.

The bottom third of the Home Mini isn't covered in material, rather it's a plastic base which features a USB-C port for the power cord and a physical button to mute the microphone if you don't want it listening in at certain moments.

It's available in three colors too, black, grey and coral.

Google Home Mini hands on gallery

Controls and audio

As with the full size Google Home, you can control the Home Mini without even touching it. The prompt you need is "Okay Google" or "Hey Google" and the smart speaker will spring to life.

You can then ask it all many of questions, commands and more, from controlling various smart home devices such as lighting, Chromecast and thermostats to playing games, getting the news and weather and finding out the answers to question.

Everything you can do with standard Google Home, you can do with the Home Mini. It, like its bigger sibling, comes with touch controls.

Tap either edge of the Home Mini to adjust volume, while tapping the center of the device will play/pause music playback. You can also hold down on the middle of the Home Mini to trigger the voice assistant.

When it comes to audio, the Google Home Mini boasts a 360 degree speaker which is tuned for voice rather than music. It means that the Assistant's voice is crisp and clear when it talks to you, but music playback is also possible.

You don't get any of the bass you get with Google Home, but if you're music isn't thumping bass tones then the Home Mini is a great casual listening device.

The demo area at the Google launch was very noisy, so it was difficult for us to properly assess the quality of the speaker but we'd say -at this early stage – it's better than the one you find in the Echo Dot. You'll have to wait for our full review for the final verdict on that though.

Four lights appear on the Home Mini when it’s listening and thinking

Early verdict

The Home Mini is the perfect rival to the Echo Dot, and if you're firmly in the Google rather than Amazon camp, it's a great device to kick off your smart home, or build on what you have already.

Its relatively low cost means it'll appeal to a wider audience and it's tempting to pick up more than one to really kick your smart home into gear.

John McCann
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