When it comes to brands such as Google, you expect nothing but the best in terms of quality and functionality. And in most cases, you don’t mind paying a couple of extra bucks for the brand name as well. But what if I tell you that their latest release, the Google Nest Mini, is not just incredibly high-end, but also the cheapest smart speaker on the market right now? Functionality-wise, I just feel like the Nest Mini could’ve achieved a lot more than it did. It’s not a useless device by any means; it just had a lot more potential.
Thoughts While Unboxing
As I held the Nest Mini in my hands for the first time, I couldn’t help but appreciate its brilliant aesthetics. As inexpensive as it is, Google was smart enough to hide that in its appearance. Everything from the material to the ultra minimal design and clean finish suggest expensive. Yet, it comes at an astonishing price of just $50.
The speakers come with a fabric mesh covering its top that hides three touch-capacitive buttons. The one in the center is for pause and play and the sides site the volume buttons. The buttons have accompanying LEDs embedded within them. Said LEDs turned on as soon as I brought my hand close to them, lighting up before my finger even came in contact with them. The built-in sonar tech behind the LEDs is a small detail that certainly didn’t go unnoticed. The base is rubber with a microphone mute/unmute switch on the side that you can toggle according to your convenience. It also comes with a wall-mount option underneath the speaker.
Being a hardcore environmentalist, one of my favorite features of the Nest Mini has to be that it’s made in part from recycled materials. The fabric mesh, mentioned above, was made from 100% recycled plastic and the rest of the speaker from 35% recycled plastic. So not only did I give the Nest Mini points for an excellent build and a beautiful look, but an extra point was also given for Google being mindful of its carbon footprint. Not a lot of companies keep their social responsibility in mind and I highly appreciate Google for doing so.
Thoughts While Setting Up
This part of the process definitely left me wanting a little more from the Nest Mini. First of all, the process of setting up took, in my opinion, a little too long. I tend to get bothered when devices take longer than five minutes to set up, asking me a ton of questions in the process. I prefer a quick setup and the option to set preferences once it’s good to go.
Moreover, navigating the device made me realize that the speaker may be economical but if you wish to play the music of your choice on them, you may have to pay more. The Nest Mini notes your default music app preferences while setting up and, unfortunately, all of these require paid subscriptions. There is also no 3.5mm port that you can just connect an AUX cord to and when you can’t or don’t want to connect via Bluetooth.. While the Bluetooth works great, a single line-out port wouldn’t have hurt. It certainly led me to deduct a point from the device’s functionality.
Thoughts While Testing Audio
Listening to music on the Nest Mini made me realize that it is primarily a Google Assistant-enabled smart device and then a speaker. If you wish to add another device to the list of your smart home devices, this is a great option. But if you’re an audiophile and want a solid speaker, then you might want to stop reading.
Don’t get me wrong, the Nest Mini doesn’t sound bad at all. But there are quite a few things you shouldn’t rely on it for. It has a fairly good mid range and a clear and crisp sound. Because of its shape, you also get a great 360 degree sound that’s perfect for small indoor events or offices. However, if you’re expecting it to deliver the kind of bass that carries a thump with it, you’re going to be disappointed. The Nest Mini slightly lacks when it comes to producing low frequencies. In comparison, high frequencies are much better; the audio stays crisp regardless of the volume. The overall nature of the sound, however, is harsh and tinny instead of warm.
The Nest Mini may lack the audio quality your high-end speakers deliver, but that’s not only predictable but forgivable considering the device’s price and size. I certainly wasn’t expecting a smart home device to sound flawless. I was thoroughly impressed while testing it with the weather forecast, podcasts and audio books, and that was enough for me. Moreover, with the addition of its latest machine learning chip, it was able to detect my voice within milliseconds and handle my requests incredibly fast. This made setting alarms, appointments and timers fairly easy and smooth.
All in all, I found the Nest Mini to be a great device for enhancing workflow. It can act as a phone and make free calls via Google Duo. It also works as an intercom between other Google devices in your house. With its ability to adjust its volume according to the background noise in the room, it’s ideal for office announcements among several other things. Even as a speaker, unless you’re an audiophile, it will surely not disappoint.
Is it Hardcore?
Without a doubt.
The Nest Mini could’ve achieved a little more in terms of functionality. However, all in all, it’s an economical, aesthetically-striking, high-end smart speaker that could be the perfect addition to your smart home.