Google Nest Mini Review

The Nest Mini is the new entry level smart speaker from Google. It is set to replace the Google Mini, though at the time of writing the Google Mini is still available for under £20.

The Nest Mini has a similar look to the Google Mini which has been described as being doughnut shaped. In fact, the two products are exactly the same size measuring 95mm in diameter and 42mm tall. The Nest mini weighs 181 grams which is 8 grams heavier than the Google mini. The Nest Mini also replaces the micro USB port on the Google Mini with a proprietary socket, so the power supply similar to that provided in the box by Google is required.

The major difference between the Nest Mini and the Google Mini is sound quality. The new Nest Mini has more bass than the Google Mini and the sound is generally clearer and louder. This really is a significant improvement which should be noticeable to most listeners. The Nest Mini can be mounted on the wall and indeed it sounds at least as good and, in some situations, better mounted in this way rather than lying flat. This is because the Nest Mini can resonate with the wall to enhance the bass response.

The Nest Mini has three microphones instead of the two microphones on the Google Mini and in tests I have carried out I have found that the Nest Mini can hear your voice from farther away and it is also better at hearing the wake word even when playing at high volume.

The Nest Mini supports Bluetooth 5 for connecting to speakers where the Google Mini supports Bluetooth 4.1. This should lead to better audio when connected to other speakers.

The Nest Mini has a built in Machine Learning chip which should allow faster response to often used commands such as asking what the weather is like. These should be able to be processed locally though my understanding is that this is not fully implemented in software yet.

Finally, the Nest Mini uses more recyclable materials. It uses 35 percent of recyclable plastic in its body and the fabric top is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. Apparently one 500ml recycled plastic bottle produces enough fabric for two Nest Minis.

In conclusion, the range of commands that both smart speakers will recognise is currently the same, but the improvements in sound with the new Nest Mini are very considerable.

In a previous article I compared the entry level Echo Dot with the Google Mini. Both speakers have their plus points and at £50 each, having both speakers is definitely feasible for many. At the moment, they are both half price in the run up to Christmas and there are regular deals throughout the year. The Nest mini is clearly the winner when it comes to sound, and it will be interesting to see how Amazon responds.

Graham Page, Access Technology Adviser, 29 November 2019

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