If you’re looking to get stuck in to the smart home revolution but don’t want to spend a fortune, both the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini are fantastic smart speakers for getting stuck in.
Which device deserves your money? We’ve been putting each to the test to find out.
To try out these devices we’ve lived with them, chatted with them, shared jokes with them you name it, we’ve given it a go.
Amazon Echo Dot:
The Amazon Echo Dot, affectionately known around the house as ‘Alexa’, is Amazon’s entry-level device to whet your appetite for creating a smart home. There’s nothing this low-profile device can’t do that the full-size Echo can. While it takes up much less room, it does have significantly less ‘oomph’ when it comes to sound quality.
One of the things we really like about the Echo is its integration with Amazon Music, which is a great feature, especially if you already have a Prime account, as it gives you access to loads of extra tracks. To really enjoy it however, we had to connect to a Bluetooth speaker to boost the sound. Fortunately, this is easy and can be done by voice, and this isn’t an option on Google Home Mini.
If you’re brave enough to try it out, the Echo Dot can also be used for shopping on Amazon. We were a little bit nervous about accidentally buying random things, but thankfully we have yet to receive any surprise parcels. If you’re a frequent Amazon shopper like us, one feature you will enjoy is ‘Alexa, where is my order?’ which instantly gives an update on the delivery of recent orders.
What we love:
- Integration with Amazon Prime
Ã¯Â¿Â½What we don’t love:
- Low sound quality
Ã¯Â¿Â½Fun things to try:
‘Alexa, who you gonna call?’
Google Home Mini
With a fabric coating, the Home Mini looks something like a plush pebble, we really liked how it looked in the house. A smaller version of the Google Home Assistant, as with the Echo Dot, no functionality is lost in its diminutive size.
The Home Mini, like the Echo Dot, is a good music player. It connects to services such as Spotify Premium easily and through Google Play Music, has access to a huge range of tracks. We found the speaker to be passable too, much more so than the Dot. Its louder volume meant we could still clearly hear music playing over background noise, such as a running tap or extractor fan. Quality-wise, it’s still not brilliant and audiophiles will want to connect it other speakers, but unlike the Dot, the Home Mini can’t connect to speakers via Bluetooth, which is a shame.
One thing we loved about the Home Mini is its connectivity with Google’s services. If you use Google Calendar, you can use the device to hear appointments, set appointments and generally have a more organised day. This is a great feature for those who work from home.
If you want to create a talking point, pair your Home Mini with a Chromecast device, and use your voice to control your TV. It’s easy to set up and you’ll be streaming videos in no time. This is also a workaround for the Bluetooth speaker issue as you can play music through any Chromecast-enabled devices, and speakers are available on the market. For us though, we only got to try out the TV, which felt a tad excessive for streaming music – and frankly, doesn’t have great sound either. Users who have Chromecast on their speakers may have more luck.
What we love
- How it looks
- Integration with google services
Ã¯Â¿Â½What we don’t love
- Not having Bluetooth
Ã¯Â¿Â½Fun things to try:
‘OK Google, surprise me.’
One of our favourite things about getting a smart speaker is how it naturally integrates with your life. There are lots of cool and complicated things they can do, and the list grows day-by-day, but the greatest joy came from simple things: asking it to set a timer while cooking, play the radio or check the weather forecast for the day. These small things may not sound like much, but collectively we felt like they had made an impact on our lives and made the devices good value for money. Both devices handle these tasks equally well, and you’ll find them second nature to use in no time.
The clincher is the other services you use. If you are an Amazon addict, go with the Echo Dot. Prime, in all its forms, will become major features you’ll use on a daily basis.
If your life revolves around Google, go with the Home Mini. You’ll likely find the connection with calendar and Chromecast worth taking the leap for.