Why should you buy the Google Nest Mini
Throughout 2017 and 2018, through promotions and deep discounts, Google pushed a lot of Google Home Mini devices out of the door. The brand is still on sale (although it’s confusing) alongside the new model even in 2019, and it will see some big discounts on Black Friday. So why are you supposed to buy the more costly Nest Mini?
I’ve been using the Nest Mini in my home for the last couple of weeks and I think you should buy the new model for a few key reasons.
Freaky good quality of sound
Google’s biggest change to the Nest Mini over the original Home Mini is the quality of its sound. For what it is, this thing is just amazing.
Nest Mini has a 360-degree driver of 40 mm that is much more powerful than the previous generation. Google says the brand with 2x stronger bass is much louder than the original. This difference is immediately apparent when you set up the Mini and start streaming music.
Google has managed to create a speaker that really sounds good and can fill a room with its loud volume, despite the small size and single driver. It still suffers a little when it comes to bass and lows, but because of the size of this device it does much better than anyone would expect.
The term I use to be “freaky good” in conversations with people trying to describe the sound quality of this device, and I think it’s an apt description. I’ve tested both Google’s smart home speakers and smart displays, and I think it’s a #3 spot for this product. It’s nowhere near as good as the Google Home Max and still fails behind the Nest Hub Max’s simplicity, but it’s better than the Google Home original— perhaps with a slightly smaller size — and kills both the Nest Hub and Home Mini.
A sweet, familiar design
The original Home Mini design by Google is cute and works well in nearly any setting. This design remains essentially unchanged with the Nest Mini, which has just been revamped.
With the new Mini, the biggest change you’ll see in daily life is how the top surface actually works. Google used to have two invisible touch targets for volume and media controls, but for one thing I know people didn’t know how to use them. I had to explain how to use these controls to a few people. To solve that with the Nest Mini, when you get close to the device, Google tracks and lights up the sides to indicate you can touch them for controls.
The original Home Mini’s big flaw was that it was meant to have three touch controls— both sides as well as the top. To fix a security issue, it had to be disabled, but it’s back and working on this new model. Using this extra touch area makes it much easier to silence alarms or stop music.
If you’re a Home Mini user interested in expanding your collection or just having the latest model, these updated controls are a huge reason you should pick up the new model. It makes the experience much better, especially if you’re on a bedside table using the product.
There is also a hole in the updated design which helps you to mount the Nest Mini on the wall. It also exchanges a standard plug for the microUSB port. It’s a little harder to get that plug than finding a microUSB cable so I’m not a big fan of this move even if it was important to manage the better quality of sound. I don’t think the cable included is long enough to justify the change as well.
Another advantage of this new device comes from the colors. There are the same options for charcoal and chalk, but the brighter coral is subtly tweaked for the better and “Sky” is a specific color that is almost soothing.
The sad reality that we are living in today is that plastic is everywhere and you can try to recycle everything you want, but it will only do so much. One way that Google is trying to help is by using recycled materials in its items and one of the first to do that is the Nest Mini.
The fabric material that makes up the top half of the Nest Mini is not just a traditional polyester fabric like it used to be on Google’s previous speakers, but the new Mini recycles the plastic needed to make the top layer. Specifically, Google says that to build the top layer, two water bottles are used.
When it comes to plastic use and waste, I try my best to reduce my footprint, so that this factor alone would see me forking my Nest Mini cash over comparable products. It’s only if you buy a speaker for the first time, of course. If you’re upgrading from something else, this point is moot.
Better voice recognition
Finally, there is recognition of the voice. Far-field microphones are all pretty good on both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa products, but this time around Google is trying to make this product a bit better.
Google also added a third microphone to the set on the Nest Mini. The extra microphone makes it easier to drown nearby noise and focus on that hotword and your next command. In my experience, compared to older options, it makes a difference, but not to a dramatic degree.
I hope you can hear the Nest Mini like the Google Home Max. That’s no small feat as the Max hears me better than nearly any other smart speaker in my experience. The only flaw on the Mini is that it struggles greatly, sadly, when playing music — especially at higher volumes.
The on-device voice model is another part of what makes voice recognition of the Nest Mini better than other options. Unlike Pixel 4, Google has condensed the details to grasp the device’s commands which greatly speed up other commands.
If it has to talk to the servers of Google, a command is going to be about the same speed, but local commands like asking for time are super quick. In the course of time, smart home devices should also be able to take advantage from this speed.
At its launch event, Google showed a demo that showed some Philips Hue bulbs responding basically instantly to the Nest Mini’s commands. It was impressive, and when that Hue update rolls out, I can’t wait for that to be a reality in my home.
In terms of sales, Google Assistant may not win the smart speaker war, but Google is offering the smarts to back up their hardware. Because the Home Mini was such a good product as it was, Nest Mini is not really a product anyone asked for. But the Nest Mini is an absolute home run by addressing some of the biggest issue of that product, improving the sound quality, and adding welcome upgrades such as recycled materials and better voice recognition.
From the Google Store, you can buy Nest Mini, Best Buy, Walmart B&H Photo (w / free smart plug), Target, and also everywhere else.