Let’s compare who wins: Google Home Mini for $50 or Amazon Echo Dot

Dave SmartierNov 21, 20172 7581 vote +1 rating

Ever since Amazon created the Amazon Echo, the “Siri for the home” voice assistant, every company and its brother has rushed to come up with one almost exactly like it.

Note: The originally posted version of this story referred to the volume ring of the Echo Dot. That was a feature of the first-generation Dot; the current second-generation Dot has volume buttons on the top instead of the ring.

© Author of the article: David Pogue.
© Source: Yahoo Finance

Take, for example, the Amazon Echo Dot. Like the full-size Echo, it responds to your commands and questions from across the room – but it’s a tiny, sawed-off one that costs $50. The only difference is that because you don’t have the big cylinder, the sound quality is tinny. It makes a fantastic second Echo – say, for the upstairs.

Well, now here’s Google with its own version of the Dot, called the Google Home Mini. Also puck-shaped, also $50. (Google will also be releasing the Google Home Max, a beefier version with better sound.)

Google Home Mini vs. Amazon Echo Dot - who wins?The Dot and the Mini are 90% identical. They both work great. Each has a Microphone Off switch, so you can be sure that it’s not listening for its trigger word. Both can now distinguish who is making the request, so that it can respond to commands like “Play my party playlist” and “What’s next on my calendar?” with the right person’s music or info. Both now let you make free speakerphone calls to actual phone numbers (although the Google’s call quality is awful).

There are, however, a few differences to note.

In this corner: The Google Home Mini.

  • The sound is much better. Neither assistant pod will be mistaken for a concert hall. But there’s no question that Google’s built-in speaker is richer than Amazon’s.
  • It talks to Chromecasts and Android TVs. If you spring $35 for a Chromecast (a little receiver stick that plugs into a modern TV’s USB jack), or if you have a TV that runs Android TV, you can perform a nifty trick. You can say, “Ok Google, show me a video about how to remove contact lenses” or “Show me funny cat videos” or “Show me the trailer for the new Avengers movie,” and it appears on your TV instantly. As you can see in the video above, it’s quite magical.
  • It will someday have a tap-to-talk feature. The top of the Mini is supposed to be touch sensitive. As designed, you could tap it to issue a command (instead of saying “OK Google”), or tap it to pause music. But just as the Home Mini was shipping, a reviewer discovered a bug in which that button thought that it was being pressed all the time, transmitting everything anyone said in the room to Google’s servers. So Google responded by shutting off that top button’s features altogether.

And now, in this corner: The Amazon Echo Dot.

  • Works with more home-automation products, like internet-controlled thermostats, lights, security cameras, and so on. It’s a huge list. Google’s improving on this front, but Amazon’s had a several-year head start.
  • It has an audio output jack. Lots of people love plugging in their nice speakers or sound systems to an Echo Dot, thanks to the standard miniplug on the side (the Google offers nothing similar). That makes it easy to control your music by voice – one of the most luxurious features ever.

  • You can see feedback across the room. The Dot’s LED ring glows in different colors and patterns to communicate different things – for example, it glows when it’s transmitting sound back to Amazon. You can see it from the side, and therefore from across the room. The Google’s four LEDs are visible only when you’re looking down on the device, which isn’t nearly as useful.
  • You can order stuff. Of course, this is exactly what Amazon hopes you’ll do, but it’s still cool. “Alexa – order more paper towels.”

If you’re a Google Play subscriber, maybe the convenience of speaking your desires for music tips the balance for you toward the Google Home Mini. (The argument about “Buy a Google Home if you keep your calendar in Google Calendar” doesn’t really hold water, since the Echo can consult or add events to the calendar systems of Google or Apple (AAPL) or Microsoft (MSFT).

Otherwise, though, the Echo Dot is still the better micro-assistant. (Especially when it’s on sale for $40 – for example, on the typical Black Friday, which is in a couple of weeks.)

Both of these devices are delicious enhancements to almost anyone’s home. Over time, you’ll find more and more ways that they’re useful – and for only 50 dollars!

Total: 7 comments
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  1. iNexussbeene
    2017-12-8, 10:18AM
    Google Home Mini will cost just $29 through the end of 2017. Originally $49, now (discounted) $29 each. Offer valid starting November 23, 2017 through December 31, 2017 while supplies last...

    Assistant-powered smart speakers are everywhere now and you can buy them in quite a few different form factors. The most compelling, though, has been the small and affordable Google Home Mini, and now it's going to be even more affordable through the end of the year.

  2. Dave Smartier
    Author: Dave SmartierJournalist
    2017-11-21, 6:24PM
    I use the Echo because it is much more compatible with other devices and home automation. I have multiple Echo devices and use it together with the Logitech Harmony Hub to cintrol most electronic devices at home. I can turn the TV, sound system and reaction ON and OFF with my voice. I can even tell the TV what channel to play (Directv boxes). I cintrol the Nest thermostat too, and the home automation system I have (Insteon) so I can turn ON and OFF almost every light at home. I can do all that also remotely with my phone if I’m not at home (not through Echo, but using apps).

    Do I care if what I say at home is heard by a spy? Nope, they will only hear my kids screaming and playing, my cats meowing, my dogs barking, and me and my wife having fun in bed. I don’t care. Welcome to the 21st century.
  3. Morpheius
    2017-11-21, 6:22PM
    If you want home automation, Apples home kit is far superior to Echo/Alexa. If you haven’t tried the Google Home, you should. It’s sounds much richer than the Echo, it can verbally translate, make calls without any extra hardware like Amazon requires, and it can play free no commercial music 24/7. It can also order from Dominos, your local stores as well as Costco, Target and Walmart - all where your find better prices than Amazon. And Walmart gives free 2 day shipping and eBay gives free 3 day shipping Why pay for Prime anymore. stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye
  4. Chris Maccenroy
    Chris MaccenroyJournalist
    2017-11-21, 6:03PM
    I only got a Dot because it was on sale for $35 and thought it would be a decent gimmick. Now whenever I need to add something to my shopping list, I tell the Dot and it’s on my phone. It also helps with a lamp that’s in a weird position that makes it hard to reach to turn on, and I can torment the dogs by talking to them over the Dot when I’m out. Other than that, I’ve had some fun with people showing them the self-destruct feature. Definitely not a must have, over priced at $50, but I’ve definitely got my $35 out of it.

    The CIA says the Google one is much clearer to listen to, Homeland says they are both adequate for their needs but the FBI loves the easy recording process for the Amazon. They all say "just get either one and put it in an area where the family does most of their chatting. It needn’t be the living room because the new smart TV’s do a great job of spying there. Ok feel free to talk amongst yourselves.
  5. iLawyer
    2017-11-21, 12:24PM
    No these devices are absolutely NOT listening to every word you say, cataloging, storing, and saving. Of course NONE of these devices are doing that. A multinational corporation listening to what you say in your own house? Then using some of that information to sell you #$%$. Of course it wouldn’t pickup/record things you would NEVER want other people to hear. No NEVER, it wouldn’t...

    Yeah, and snapchat doesn’t catalog and store EVERY photo you take with the app. It disappears forever. Except it doesn’t. Look at all the celeb nudes that were leaked twice. All kidding aside, the way people today are just so willing to give up their privacy to strangers/multinational corporations for convenience is just baffling to someone like me. I don’t trust the folks running these companies, if I didn’t think they had nefarious intentions I’d be on board. Call me conspiracy theorist all you want. At least I KNOW when I leave my phone in my bedroom under a pillow I probably still have My Privacy.
  6. Sarah Gillmor
    Sarah GillmorJournalist
    2017-11-21, 12:03PM
    Is this article really serious? Amazon has fully integrated the Echo devices into all manner of electronics, including TV’s. If you want to integrate your device into a smart home the choice is clear. It’s over.

    People on here are real idiots. "Big brother and companies can spy on you with these!", Yeah any electronic device that is hooked to the grid can spy on you... including the one you are reading this on. Most electronic devices have a camera and microphone and can be hooked to the internet. Anything over the air such as WiFi and cell can be snatched right out of the air. Speakers can be turned into microphones.

    If you are paranoid about big brother then you need to live completely off the grid without electronics. Though I bet these same people that complain about big brother also posts on Facebook. You are tracked though GPS, your car is tracked through GPS, cameras everywhere. Satellites that can see what you are eating for lunch at that little outdoor cafe. And then there are drones.

    Welcome to the electronic age. If it has a circuit board, it can probably be used to monitor you. Stop being so ignorant.
  7. lexuss
    2017-11-21, 11:58AM
    Who wins? Well the buyer will not. For all those who cry about your “Right to privacy” - if you are foolish enough to have one of these in your house then your right to privacy in its vicinity is null and void. Ask your self this. If it is not listening all the time then why does reply. Yes they (the companies that sell them) will tell you that this will not happen... until it does!

    Everyone, just be aware that they found some of these devices keep the microphone on all the time and some devices have the ability to act as a monitor and transmit your conversations 24/7 to undisclosed people.
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