Oct 6th, 2017

Now that we know all about the new Google Home Mini, it’s time to take a look at how it stands up against its closest competition – the Amazon Echo Dot. Both devices are priced at just $50, making for a low-cost barrier of entry, while putting Alexa or Google Assistant in just about every room in your home.

Google Home Mini: Better Overall Design

Seeing as we don’t have a Google Home Mini on hand as of yet, we can only go off of what we saw from Google’s announcement yesterday. However, there are some key design features which set these two smart home assistants apart from one another.

First, the Echo Dot looks like a hockey puck with flashing lights and buttons on the top, while the Home Mini looks like a donut covered in fabric, with no buttons on the top. Instead, Google opted for a touch-capacitive interface along where the four LED indicators are presented. Whereas the Echo Dot features 4 buttons on the top for volume control, Alexa activation, and one to turn off the microphone.

Whenever you activate your Echo Dot, there is a ring of LED lights around the top of the puck to let you know when Alexa is listening to your commands. As for the Home Mini, there are the aforementioned 4 LED lights that also let you know when everything is working, including when you change the volume.

Google has also included the ability to turn off the microphone so that you don’t continue to set off the Home Mini, and that’s located on the bottom with a simple switch. Speaking of the bottom, that brings us to the power adapter for the Dot and Home Mini.

On the rear of the Echo Dot, there is a microUSB power input, which has been placed alongside the 3.5mm headphone jack. As for the Home Mini, there is a single input for the microUSB power adapter, along with the microphone switch off to the side.

Overall, the Google Home Mini does look more aesthetically pleasing, as it would not be an eyesore in any room that you place it in. The same can’t be said about the Echo Dot as it does feature that hockey puck look that is rather dated. This is more of a product that you would want to tuck away behind a TV or something, versus showing it off in a different area.

Tie: Assistant Activation

On both the Echo Dot and Home Mini, there are multiple ways to activate the Assistant portion of the device. First and foremost is voice activation, with “Alexa” being the hot phrase for the Echo Dot, while the Home Mini can be activated with “Ok, Google”. From there, simply ask any questions or perform actions then you’ll be good to go.

In order to activate Assistant without your voice, you can simply press and hold on the middle of the Home Mini and the Assistant will be activated, allowing to answer any and all questions you may have. As for the Echo Dot, there is button placed on the right-hand side which will activate Alexa with ease.

Both of these options are extremely easy, but if you have either product placed across the room, voice activation will likely be the most commonly used method. Just keep in mind that commercials or TV content may end up activating either assistant since these are both always listening for the hot phrase.

Amazon Echo Dot: Playback and interaction

As you can see in the chart above, the Echo Dot comes equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack, and that opens a world of possibilities for attaching this $50 smart home product to your favorite speakers around your home. Considering the fact that you can ask Alexa to play music directly, hooking the Echo Dot up to a speaker would definitely a more enjoyable experience.

Unfortunately, it seems that the same can’t be said for the Google Home Mini. For some strange reason, 2017 is the year that Google gets rid of all of the 3.5mm headphone jacks as the Pixel 2 lineup nor the Home Mini have this as an option.

Maybe it’s because Google is confident in the playback capabilities, but just having the option to hook up the Home Mini to an external speaker would have been a very nice addition here. Nonetheless, we’ll have to deal with the tiny speaker in the Home Mini to provide our content for the time being.

Google Home Mini: Smartest Assistant

This isn’t the first time that you’ve seen Google Assistant take the win in a head-to-head battle between AI assistants, and it’s for good reason. I lost count, but the phrase “AI-driven” was used so many times during Google’s event that you can see how hard the company is driving home the point. Google Assistant is literally everywhere you can look, and while Amazon is attempting to do the same by offering it in more devices, Alexa just falls behind (except in reminders).

The best part about this new competition for smart home supremacy is seeing what these different companies are doing to continually update these pieces of software to make them more intelligent. Therefore, we end up with smarter assistants that can react to us whenever called upon, and do a damn good job in the process.

However, Google has so much information behind the scenes and has been in the algorithm game for so long that Assistant is already looking like it’s been around for years. That’s not the case, however, as Assistant was “only” introduced back at Google I/O 2016. Since then, we’ve seen Assistant arrive on more and more devices, and Google even recently released Assistant as a stand-alone app onto the Play Store for even more folks to download.

As for Alexa, she’s been around for quite some time, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem like everything is up to par. YMMV, but using Alexa and Assistant side-by-side really show off how much work has been done in a short period of time to call Google Assistant the smartest.

Which one is for you?

Now that we’ve taken a look at the variables for the Amazon Echo Dot and the Google Home Mini, now’s the time to figure out which option is best for you. The obvious answer here comes with what ecosystem are you already entrenched in. If you’ve got an Echo in your kitchen, chances are that an Echo Dot is already laying claim to another room or two in your home.

If you’re rocking the Google Home, but have been waiting for Google’s Echo Dot competitor, then the time is now, and the Home Mini is the best option for you. But, if you haven’t picked sides as of yet, now’s the best time to find out and my money would be going to the Big G because there’s just something about having Assistant on all of my devices (phones included) that make me feel as though it’s a true ecosystem.

We know that Amazon is vigorously working to bring Alexa to more smartphones, and you can access some of Alexa through the Amazon suite of apps, but Google Assistant is just “there” when I need it and don’t have to open any apps to get there.

Let us know in the comments what your pick is, and why you’re leaning towards either the Echo Dot or new Google Home Mini.

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