Google Home Mini Packs a Lot of Functions in a Tiny Smart Home Device

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Google Home Mini Packs a Lot of Functions in a Tiny Smart Home Device

In the world of smart home devices, Google continues to come out with new devices in hopes of toppling Amazon, the market leader. While Amazon sells a variety of Echo devices that couple smart home control with outstanding entertainment experiences, Google, a newer entrant to the market, offers affordable solutions with attractive designs. One of those solid solutions is the Google Home Mini, a diminutive smart home device that doubles as a speaker. And with a price of just $49, it's one of the most affordable and budget-friendly products on the market. I recently tried out the Google Home Mini in my home. Although it has its fair share of quirks, the Google Home Mini is a solid device with a great price. Here's a first look at the Google Home Mini.

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Mini Means It Can Be Placed Anywhere

The Google Home Mini is a pucklike device that is small enough to sit anywhere in the house—unlike bigger smart home devices like the Google Home or Amazon Echo. The Mini is simple and attractive, and its size is spot-on.

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It May Be Mini, but Its Sound Isn't

For its size, the Google Home Mini's sound is outstanding. Although it's not the best-sounding speaker on the market, it produces more sound than expected. And the spoken word sounds even better than music.

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Google Assistant Gets Into the Mix

Google Assistant is the company's answer to services like Alexa and Siri. Although it doesn't have as many skills as Alexa, it benefits from its reliance on Google Search. It hears commands and interprets them with few problems and delivers results quickly. It's a nice feature that will only get better over time.

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Chromecast Users Get a Better Entertainment Experience

The Google Home Mini provides a number of compelling ways for Chromecast users to improve their entertainment experience. From the device and with a voice command, users can stream shows, movies and music on their televisions and speakers.

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What About the Smart Home?

Google has partnered with several prominent companies—including Wemo and Nest—to enable Google Home Mini users to control the smart home. As someone who has a variety of smart home products, I found this to be a welcome feature that I use often. The Google Home Mini, however, does need to be able to work with more smart home solution products to be truly effective.

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Google Home Mini Works Best as Part of Broader Google Ecosystem

The Google Home Mini is one of many devices that Google offers for the smart home, including the Google Home, Chromecast and Nest line of devices. That's not to say that the Google Home Mini doesn't work with a variety of other products (it does), but it's at its best when it's part of the broader Google device ecosystem.

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It's Part of a Growing Ecosystem

As time goes on, Google will be adding even more services and solutions—something the Google Home Mini will definitely benefit from. While it already delivers a nice user experience, as more services and skills are added, the more appealing and desirable the Google Home Mini will become.

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It Works With Android and iOS

The Google Home Mini works with both Android and iOS devices. That means users can download the Google Home app to either platform to set up hardware, search for content and browse a variety of entertainment services. That platform agnosticism is critical to its success.

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Pair It With Other Google Services for a Better Experience

To get the most out of the Google Home Mini, users will need to be comfortable with Google and its range of services, as well as get a Google account. For best experiences, pair it with other Google hardware in the home and take advantage of Google services like YouTube Red and Google Play Music for easier access to audio.

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Why Google Home Mini Is a Great Value

At $49, the Google Home Mini is one of the cheapest smart home solutions on the market, while delivering features found in bigger and more expensive devices. The Google Home Mini might not sound as good as some of its larger counterparts, but audio quality isn't bad and its voice-controller features are solid. Overall, the Google Home Mini delivers great value for the price.

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