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Google Nest Mini: a major performance upgrade from the Home Mini

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Weighing just 181 grams, this product has a powerful speaker and lives up to Google’s sustainability pledge

Towards the end of November, tech giant Google launched a familiar egg-like product — the Google Nest Mini. It is a physical clone of the Google Home Mini which was launched in 2017; however, the newer Nest Mini has an overhaul of smarter and more intuitive features, including a Machine Learning chip with one TeraOPS of processing power so that the device quickly learns and builds algorithms as you use your own pattern of instructions with the simple prefixes of ‘Okay, Google’ or ‘Hey, Google’.

Out of the box

Setting up the Nest Mini is a breeze, given the single cable connection and easy installation of the Google Home app on your smartphone. One of my woes is that Google still has not added a USB-C capability for this series of devices, which would make for easy moving around the home. From the app, one can control the volume if away from the device, the type of voice and the language, among other controls. With a simple wave, the ultrasound sensors light up indicators to help control the device’s volume, ideal for first-timers who wouldn’t know heads from tails. Hindi speakers will have a blast. I had a friend come over and test the proficiency, to which the Nest Mini got a thumbs-up... and a sequence of Arijit Singh ballads floating through my home which definitely sent my Spotify algorithm for a toss.

Specifications
  • Structure: diameter: 9.8 cm, height: 4.2 cm, weight: 181 g
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi , Bluetooth
  • Sensors: Capacitive touch controls, 3 far-field microphones
  • Powering: 15W power adaptor with a DC power jack for a 1.5 m power cable
  • Requirements: Google Home app, Wi-Fi use requires 802.11a/b/g/n/ac access point (router)

Much like the Home Mini, the sides of the device can be tapped for volume control and long-pressed to activate Google Assistant. While the Home Mini let itself be inhibited by its speaker size, the Nest Mini’s speaker and microphone are more powerful with whole-home audio and double the bass (the Home Mini has an uncomfortable crispness to the treble), ideal for use within a home where one is likely to yell instructions from another room. In fact, I found at a 15 metre distance from the device, the Nest Mini was able to pick up my Spotify requests. Unlike Amazon’s Echo Dot, there are no sharp edges gracing the Nest Mini, which resembles a zen pebble to blend in with most home’s interiors. The Nest Mini requires to be set up near an electrical socket; the power cable is just 1.5 metres long, and Marie Kondo would let out a gasp if she knew that your home had joy-robbing cables sprawling about. If you like your table-tops to be free of gadgets, there is a wall mount option available, if you don’t mind a trailing cable down your wall.

Green tags

Probably the most interesting part of Google Nest Mini has to be that the fabric covering is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, i.e. plastic bottles that have already been used and recycled. According to Google, a single half-litre plastic bottle generates enough fabric to cover more than two Nest Mini devices. The external enclosure is also made from 35% post-consumer recycled plastic. Plus, Google’s confided that all Nest products launching in 2019 are built using varying amounts of recycled plastics.

Google Nest Mini: a major performance upgrade from the Home Mini

On August 5, Google announced their own sustainability pledge in which all their Made By Google products — Pixel, Pixelbook, Nest and Home — would be made from recycled plastics. So this seems like a step forward to that long-term goal. Having something like this in your home does add a ‘good green feeling’, even though it is a little superficial because to not invest at all would probably be better for the environment generally.

An ecosystem, built

The Nest Mini is ideal for those who like the concept of the Google Nest Hub but want a ‘sans screen’ experience. I wound up connecting the Nest Mini to the Nest Hub; while I felt like I was building a family in my own house and inevitably setting myself up to be driven up the wall by smart assistants everywhere. An underrated highlight is that the Nest Mini and the Nest Hub can act as an intercom system through the home, which is useful. And no, you cannot eavesdrop on conversations; believe me, I tried.

While the Nest Hub costs ₹9,999, it was launched first and some people may feel stumped that they could have saved ₹5,500 on something which does pretty much the same things, if not slightly better. Given this device is a performance upgrade from the Home Mini, it would be helpful if there was a concept where existing Home Mini users can trade in for a new Nest Mini to add a different leg to the sustainability programme and driving the Made By Google ecosystem into the future.

The Google Nest Mini is available for ₹4,499 across major online and offline retailers. In India, the Nest Mini is available only in chalk and charcoal colours.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 1:32:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/gadgets/google-nest-mini-2019-review-india-an-intuitive-little-nest-egg/article30320788.ece

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