As you may have heard at Google’s recent keynote, there are new Google Home devices about to hit the shelves, in the form of Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max. Along with the original Home, these new additions complete the trio of sizes we were expecting to debut at some point, but which one is right for you?
The Google Home Mini
Obviously brought into existence to battle the Amazon Echo Dot, the Home Mini actually packs a rather pleasing punch for a device with such a small price tag. Where the Dot lacks an onboard speaker, the Mini has one built in, which although isn’t going to be used to fuel many parties, is surprisingly loud and clear. These early reports obviously take the price tag into consideration, but by all accounts the speaker does a fine job when being used as an assistant, and even when it comes to playing music, the sound will still fill a room, albeit with very little bass.
Speaking to the device is also mooted as being particularly responsive, even when talking at low volumes. It also looks considerably more attractive than the Echo Dot, and partnered with the fact it actually has a built-in speaker, the Dot may very well have trouble this holiday season with the Home Mini set to vie for attention as a ‘stocking filler.’ At $49, these little donut sized smart speakers are cheap enough for those who are only just feeling tempted by these sorts of digital assistants, but also functional enough for the enthusiasts to feel comfortable blanketing the house with them. With the only drawback being the lack of a 3.5mm aux input, essentially there is no difference between the Home Mini and the original Home besides price and sound quality.
The Google Home Max
If you hadn’t guessed by now, the Home Max is the biggest and most expensive of the Home range. And when we say expensive, it is really quite pricey indeed. This bread load sized speaker is $399, but for that rather large sum of money, you do get a really great audio experience from the Home Max. With two 4.5in woofers and two 0.7in tweeters, Google insists that the output of this device is quite something, for its size. Unlike the Mini, this smart speaker is designed to be the main speaker for all your music needs. We will know more once we actually get to hear it upon release, but with the price tag set that high, this version of the Home will have to be capable of hosting parties, otherwise, it is dead in the water. If it does impress though, this could very well be seen as the central music station for the home.
As with the Mini, you can pair Google Max together for even more volume, or the same music playing throughout the house. They also allow for control of Chromecast and Chromecast Audio, so a setup of Home Max in the living room, and Home Minis spread around the house in a few other rooms could be considered a pretty great set up for just over $500. If you factor in a couple of Chromecasts for the TVs and an Audio for the Hi-Fi, you could kit your whole house out for around $650, which when you consider how much this tech would have cost before the likes of the Echo and the original Home came out, is actually quite an appealing price tag for those who have been intrigued but unsure about rolling out this sort of functionality throughout the home.
The Mini is by far the standout product here though, and the visions of the aforementioned rollouts would only really be possible thanks to these budget speakers. Even the most enthusiastic smart home fan would generally baulk at the thought of deploying a Home Max in every room, but at $50, Google has really balanced price and quality well with the Home Mini. And while Amazon has done extremely well getting the Amazon Dots into millions of homes so far, Google’s brand is just as powerful as Amazon’s, and current Android and Chromecast users should see a real reason to jump ship if they have only marginally bought into the Amazon ecosystem so far.
Which one is right for you?
The Home Max is really for the audiophile who is also heavily invested in ‘team Google’. Apple fans will probably be looking to see how well the HomePod works upon release, and those who don’t care too much about high-quality audio will most probably be happy with their current set up, rather than forking out almost $400 for a new device.
The Mini however, is for pretty much anyone. These devices can suit bedrooms, garages, kitchen, offices or pretty much anywhere you spend a decent amount of time. It will suit new adopters, as well as enthusiasts, and is easy enough to use that technophobes could be gifted one at Christmas.
The Max may impress more people when we finally get to hear it properly, but the Mini is sure to steal the holiday crown. Expect to see these everywhere in the coming months, and if you are stuck for a gift idea at any point, these are sure to make most recipients smile.
You would do well not to forget that the original Google Home is also still available, and a perfect compromise between the Max and the Mini. With superior sound quality than the Mini, and a far more reasonable price tag than the Max, if you are struggling to make a choice perhaps the ‘middle of the road’ is the perfect place for you to start.
So, with their new small range of speakers, it will be interesting to see how Google fares in the battle for the digital assistant crown. Amazon themselves have recently released a slew of new devices, so whether the consumer will now turn to Google is not a guarantee. It has however, created a very interesting tussle between the tech giants, that will soon be involving a certain Cupertino giant, as they weigh in with their own version of these devices. Time will tell, as to who will take this crown, but Google certainly have shown their intent with this recent announcement.