Google Home Mini

30 DAYS WITH GOOGLE HOME MINI

How Helpful is Google's New Digital Assistant?

by Felipe Parada

 

In today's hectic and fast-paced world, if you want something from the internet, you simply Google it. We've been doing it for so long that it's become programmed in us, it's become part of our culture. It's become part of our culture so much that it has generated its very own verb, just "Google it."

 

I did an unboxing of Google Home Mini and was amazed how easy it was to set up. The instructions were simple and clear and within minutes I was up and running. This was a product that was ,pretty much, ready to go right out of the box. This is something rare for tech nowadays since it always comes down to you having to call some IT expert, usually someone's cousin, to help with the set-up.

 

The Design

The Google Home Mini looks like a speaker that was smushed under a hydraulic press. It's small enough that you can pretty much put it anywhere in your house and it will blend in nicely with your decor. The speaker has a mesh pattern on the top surface and a matte plastic cover for the bottom, a pretty basic design for a speaker. 

 

But the mesh deign isn't just for looks, the mesh that covers the speaker is actually sensitive to your touch in a few areas. For example, tapping the left and right sides of the speaker lowers and raises the volumes. But if actually touching the speaker isn't your thing, you can easily ask Google to raise and lower the volume as well. Any action taken with Google Home Mini, whenever with your voice or touch, will illuminate four LEDs on its top to show that your action has been acknowledged. So if you don't see the patented 4 lights working, then you aren't speaking clearly or the speaker may be off. 

Google Home Min

The Awkward Phase

After the initial set-up, Google Home Mini takes over, not in a SkyNet sort of way, but I'm afraid that this is the first step. I really didn't know what to do or say with Google Home Mini. We just sat there, staring at each other as Google was waiting for my instruction. So I started with something relatively easy, "Hey Google, What's the weather like outside?" As I stared at the speaker, the lights began pulsate and I wondered to myself if it was going to work at all but then my concern turned to relief as Google Home recited back to me the weather as accurately as it could. Thus my journey with Google Home Mini began but not without skepticism. 

 

Hey Google!!!

Once I got over the initial awkward feeling of asking a speaker for everything I cant really think of starting my day without asking Google Home what it's like out in the real world. Whether I was screaming from another room or speaking from 5 feet away, the Google Home Mini worked great. Google Home has gotten accustomed to my routine so much that it has set up a nifty little feature call My Day  for me. My Day is a real useful tool that lets you know about the Weather, News, Traffic and any appointments you might have even before you leave the house, all you need to say is "Hey Google, what's My Day like." 

 

There were a couple of occasions where I forgot about certain appointments that Google kindly reminded me about. It's kinda scary when a tiny little speaker tells you "Don't forget to pick up your dry cleaning at 4 p.m. tomorrow." But I knew that this was just a small taste of what Google Home Mini can actually do. Although it takes a while to really into the meat and bones of the system, Google Home Mini does a great job of guiding you in setting up your life with your new digital assistant.

 

Performance and Connectivity

Once Google Home Mini was up and running, it can take control of almost everything in your home. You can place calls within the US for free and have the ability to stream music through Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora and more, just make sure you have accounts with them. The Home Mini can even be converted to a smart home hub if you choose it. Considering that Google Home Mini is integrated with the internet, you can launch a variety of Google Home Mini approved apps such as Wemo, Phillips Hue, TP-Link and more. 

I have a Chrome-enabled TV and speaker grouped together with my Google Home Mini and was able to build makeshift a surround-sound setup. Google Home Mini didn't completely transform my surround sound experience but it was a nice addition. I know that I haven't fully taken advantage of the Chromecast features but I know in due time the features will make more use of themselves in the future.

 

Growing Pains

I can't say that the whole experience has been a walk in the park. There were some occasions where Google Home Mini did not recognize my voice and would not give me the information that I did not request. The issues increased when I had multiple accounts linked to Google Home Mini. The Speaker would get confused as to which one of us were speaking and would often read the wrong users calendar. The quick fix was to remove 1 user which can get a bit frustrating considering that Google Home Mini can read multiple users. Hopefully Google will find a fix for this but in the meantime were just using my account. 

 

The Verdict

On its own, the Google Home Mini is basically a digital assistant. It’s more than enough if you’re simply using it to look at your calendar, hear the latest news and get a glimpse of the traffic to your destination. It has helped me on more than one occasion. If your home is already Chrome-cast enabled, then Google Home Mini will add to the accessibility of your home. For the price ($49.99), the amount of capabilities that the Google Home brings in makes it a must have. Just keep in mind that it’s a speaker that should be used to support your daily lifestyle, not as a foundation. 

So what do you guys prefer? Google Home Mini or Alexa? Let us know in the comments below.

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