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It’s no surprise to anyone that I like tech gadgets. For example, I reviewed an external flash drive solution so I won’t run out of space on my phone for taking pictures. I hadn’t been as diligent on the home automation front, but I decided to invest in a smart (voice-activated) home speaker this week.
When it comes to smart speakers, most people tend to think of the popular Amazon’s Alexa (or Amazon Echo), launched back in November 2014. I didn’t have a need for it then. Given my recent investment in smart plugs and other IOT (Internet of Things) devices, it seemed like a good time to check out what’s in the marketplace.
I have a few simple requirements. I’m on a mission to declutter, so I don’t want anything bulky. It should be portable and economical, and it needs to connect to services I want to use.
- This rules out the popular-selling Amazon Echo and Google Home, because they are bigger sized than I like.
- I honed in on the “smaller” version of the Google Home — the Google Home Mini or the Amazon Echo Dot. They are two comparable products, priced at just under $50 USD each. They both integrate with the devices I want to connect to, which include my TP-Link Smart plugs.
The tradeoff with getting a smaller device is primarily in the sound quality. For me, that’s not a deal-breaker as long as the sound quality is functionally reasonable. I don’t intend to use it for my music needs. If having better sound quality is important to you, then get the Echo or the Home.
If price is not a consideration, you could also check out the newly launched Apple’s Homepod. Its sound system is superior, but of course, so is its price. The Apple Homepod starts at $349, compared to $99 for Amazon Echo and $129 for Google Home.
Which is better: Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home Mini?
Even after looking through the specifications, I had a hard time choosing between the two. They are both comparable, but I took some notes of the pros and cons of each.
Amazon Echo Dot
- Amazon Echo was launched in 2014, so it’s got more “skills” (more integration with other services) than Google Home. It’s going to take Google a bit of time to catch up.
- Echo Dot comes with a port so you can connect it to an external device. If you don’t like the sound quality, you can hook it up to an external, more powerful speaker.
- Aesthetics: It looks like a hockey puck (not a big fan), though you can always cover it up with a case.
- Not compatible with Google services, like Chromecast.
Google Home Mini
- Personal preference, but I think Google Home Mini looks better than the Amazon Echo Dot.
- Integration with other Google products that I already use, for example, control of TV via Google Chromecast.
- Better search results. No surprise there. Google is the king of search, after all.
- Google Mini doesn’t offer a port to connect your device to another external source, such as a better sound system. Oh Google, why didn’t you include it? Why?
It was a close call. I really leaned towards Amazon Echo Dot because of their port. What if I change my mind in the future and want to hook up a better sound device to a Google Home? Having that option is appealing. Amazon Echo (and its line of products) are also more established in the marketplace, though both the dot and the mini would handle my smart-plug needs just fine.
At the end of the day, I decided to go with Google Home Mini simply because I use more of its services, and those services are important to me. For example, we own and regularly use Google Chromecast with our TVs. Having the Google Home Mini integrate with the Chromecast just made that much more sense to me.
If you are teetering between the two choices, go with the one that has the services you use most often. At the end of the day, you really can’t go wrong with either. Both the “dot” and the “mini” are solid products and they both pack a good punch for its size.
I’ve only been using the Google Home Mini for a short period of time. I think that Google should come up with a cool name for its personal assistant. “Hey Alexa” sounds alluring. “Hey Siri” does too. “Hey Google” sounds …bland. I’ve already committed a mistake and tried to get the Mini’s attention with “Hey Siri”. Needless to say, “Hey Google” was smart enough to ignore me.
Are you deciding between Amazon Echo Dot or the Google Home Mini? Which one did you end up getting and why?