Google Nest Mini Is Small but Mighty Connectivity for Your Home

I’ve been all-in with Amazon’s Alexa smart devices since they first came on the scene. In recent months, however, devices leveraging Google’s smart assistant have been winning me over. The new Google Nest Mini is, in part, responsible for that. It is under $50, sounds surprisingly good, and it lets you control your home and more using only your voice.

Still mini. Even more mighty. Meet the new Nest Mini. Your music sounds bigger and better than ever. And the Google Assistant is a huge help around the house. Engineered for sound. Designed for your home.


In the box, you get the Google Nest Mini, a power adapter and cables and documentation. You’ll need the Google Home app on your phone or tablet in order to set up the device and take advantage of it.

This is the second Google Assistant device to carry the “mini” moniker. It may look the same, but adding “Nest” to the name is just one small reason it is an impressive upgrade.

For example, the new Nest Mini has twice the bass than the original Mini. (I don’t have a first-generation Mini to compare to, but the sound that comes from the new Nest Mini is impressive.)

Another change that arrives with the new Nest Mini is Google’s commitment to addressing environmental concerns. In this case, Nest Mini’s fabric top is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles while the external enclosure is made with at least 35% post-consumer recycled plastic.

The Google Nest Mini is just 3.85” in diameter and 1.65” tall. It weighs 181 grams and is available in your choice of chalk, sky, coral, and charcoal.

The device is simple; there is an input for the AC adapter, a physical privacy button that turns off the microphone and, on the back, a highly advanced mechanism for hanging it on the wall.

Okay, so maybe it’s not so advanced; on the back, there is a slot for a screw.

It’s a simple approach but one that lets you hang the device out of the way without the need for additional brackets.

The new mini has an ultrasonic sensor underneath the fabric on top.

It knows when you are near the device and then shows you where to tap in order to raise or lower the volume by illuminating an LED on each side. In addition, there are a series of LEDs in the middle that show you the volume and also illuminate when the device is listening for your input.

Setting up the Nest Mini will be familiar to anyone who has any experience with Google voice services. You will need the Google Home app on your phone or tablet and then, once you launch the app, you’ll simply have to follow the prompts from there. I’ve covered the process in-depth previously, but here are some screenshots of the process

Of course, this is, first and foremost, a voice assistant delivery system, and it does a good job as a Google Assistant device. And while the Nest Mini looks similar to the device it replaces, its internals have been updated and now offer improved voice recognition with 3 far-field microphones.

In my testing, the device is quite good at correctly understanding what is said or asked, even from the other side of the room. Its accuracy beats my Amazon devices, and I can admit that, at least in my experience, Google Voice services have surpassed their competitors.

You can simply ask Google to make a change to your connected home — lights on or off, etc — or you can ask it to access a variety of media services. We’ve discussed Google Assistant previously, so I won’t go into detail on it but suffice it to say, Google’s offering is slowly winning me over.

Moreover, Google’s Voice Match technology means different members of the same household are recognized as themselves by the device.

Control your home with just your voice. Dim the lights, turn on the TV, or turn up the heat–just ask your Google Assistant.4 Works with thousands of compatible smart devices.


The 40mm drivers deliver 360º sound that is surprisingly good. Plug the device in, connect it to your WiFi using the Google Home app, and ask it to play music. The Nest Mini lets you stream music from services such as YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM as well as news, podcasts, sports and more. Sadly, unlike Amazon’s offerings, the Google Smart Assistant can’t access Apple Music. That’s a bummer for me, but I haven’t found it to be enough of an issue to keep me from enjoying this device. A bigger bummer is the fact that the mini doesn’t have a 3.5mm  audio jack so you can’t use it to deliver audio to a larger, more powerful speaker. You can, however, do so over Bluetooth, but that is obviously not as convenient.

Specifications:

  • 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz) WiFi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Chrome cast built-in
  • 40mm driver with 360 degrees sound
  • 3 far-field microphones
  • Voice Match technology
  • Capacitive touch controls
  • Quad-core 64-bit ARM CPU 1.4GHz

The new Google Nest Mini is a terrific way to get Google Assistant at home or the office without breaking the bank. The range of colors lets you pick something that won’t stand out. The small size means it won’t call attention to itself. And the powerful, updated internals means the device is responsive and sounds far better than its diminutive size would otherwise suggest. At just $49, it is the same price at the Amazon Echo Dot. On the one hand, the inability to access Apple Music is a disappointment but not a surprise. On the other hand, since my email, calendar and other productivity tools all take advantage of Google’s various offerings, this device is better at keeping me on track throughout the day.

I’m liking the $49 Google Nest Mini. It works well with my new Google Nest WiFi, and it integrates nicely with the Google Hub Max I am about to review. At the end of the day, there are no significant shortcomings I can identify with the Nest Mini. The real question is, when you decide to welcome a voice assistant into your home, do you want to employ Amazon’s system or Google’s? After five years of Amazon leading the pack, the gap has narrowed and it’s now really an issue of preference. The jury is still out as far as whether I’ll end up replacing all of my Amazon products with Google’s. One thing is certain, though, with the new Google Nest Mini and Google’s other new offerings the decision just became significantly harder.
Check it out here.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Small; Available in a number of colors; Surprisingly good sound; Responsive to voice; Connects seamlessly to Google Voice Assistant

What Needs Improvement: The lack of a 3.5mm input means up you can’t use the mini to control a larger, better speaker the way you can with other voice assistant devices except over Bluetooth; If you are invested in Google services and are open to inviting a smart assistant into your home this is a great way to go


About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.