Google’s smallest smart speaker is back with wall mounting, better sound and faster Assistant!
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So here it is – the brand new second gen Google Home Mini! Sorry, the Nest Mini, as it’s now called. So this is a quick video to see what’s new, what’s different and whether it’s a worthy upgrade!
Hi! Welcome back to another Switched on Network video, I’m @paulfp and this channel covers technology, gadgets and the Internet so if you’re new around here please think about subscribing!
So just over a week ago, Google announced this little fella, the new and rebranded Nest Mini, which is effectively the upgraded second generation of the Google Home Mini.
So what’s new? You’ll notice that looks almost identical, although it’s also available in this new “Sky” colour. Although the fabric mesh covering might look the same, it’s actually now made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, whilst the enclosure is made from 35% recycled plastic. That definitely sounds like a good idea to me, I don’t know why anyone would ever want to send perfectly good plastic to landfill when it can be so easily reused! So nice work, Google. Let’s see everything made from 100% recycled materials sometime soon, yeah?
The other visual difference is here on the back where they’ve added a wallmount. This was a glaring omission from the original design if you ask me, but I guess to be fair to Google it was, at the time, a very new type of device so it’s only with the benefit of hindsight that we can now see how much sense it makes to be able to wall mount them. I even made a video on this channel early last year showing how to wall mount a Google Home mini with a cheap 3D printed wall bracket, so it’s good to see they’re responding to customer behaviour and desires!
The key feature that Google are pushing with this launch is improved sound quality, and the bass it produces is apparently twice as strong now, thanks to the beefier speaker inside. I was always pleasantly surprised at how good the audio quality was from the original mini. Good, I mean, for such a small speaker – and depending on where it’s mounted and the surrounding environment. But listening to music in the kitchen whilst preparing food and washing up has been a big part of using the Home Mini for us, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the new Nest Mini compares. In fact, if you want to see a direct side-by-side comparison video of the sound quality on the Home Mini and the Nest Mini, recorded using a professional shotgun microphone in an acoustically treated studio, click the i in the top corner or click the link in the video description!
Other improvements include better voice recognition thanks to an additional microphone which will hear you better in noisy environments, and a machine learning chip built into the device itself which means that some Google Assistant features can run more quickly and be computed on the device itself, rather than relying on latency-laden API calls over the internet.
They’ve also added in these subtle lights which light up when your hands get close so you know where to tap the device to turn the volume up and down – although to be honest, I never had a problem remembering on the first one! You can now tap the top to pause and restart music, just like you can on the full size Google Home, so that’s useful if you’re walking past the device on your way out of a room and want to just tap to stop, rather than having to speak.
On a slightly negative note, for some reason known only to Google they’ve done away with the micro USB power connection and instead put this proprietary one on instead. The U in USB stands for Universal and the big advantage of that is that if you lose or break the power cord, you’ve probably got several gathering dust in a drawer so it’s no big deal. However with this one, if you break it you’ll need to buy a new one – and I couldn’t see them for sale on the Google store.
Comparing the two power adaptors, the Google Home Mini is rated at 5V 1.8A, so 9 watts, and the new Nest Mini is rated at 14V 1.1A, giving 15.4 watts. So the new mini draws much less current, but at a higher voltage, resulting in higher power – presumably for that onboard machine learning chip, and maybe even for the significantly bigger driver in the speaker. However, USB-C can support 5V at 3A, so 15 W, with only two extra resistors, or if you support USB Power Delivery, can go up to 20 V at 5A, so 100 Watts, for things like monitors. So it’s a curious decision by Google not to power this thing with a USB-C connector… maybe down to cost and licensing reasons.
The big disappointment for me, though, is that they’ve missed the opportunity to add in a headphone jack or audio output on this Mini. That’s especially disappointing as the Echo Dot here from Amazon has his, and with Google having discontinued the Chromecast Audio, I was hoping – and, if I’m honest, expecting – that the new Mini would have a headphone jack to take the place of the excellent Chromecast audio. Maybe they’re thinking that the sound is better so you’ll not need to plug in an extra speaker?
I had been planning a video showing how to mod a Mini to add in a headphone jack, but was ready to abandon that video idea when they announced a new Mini was in the pipeline… but it looks like that video’s back on, so subscribe to the channel and it’ll be with you soon!
So, the Google Home/Nest ecosystem seems to be getting better with age and maturing like a good wine, although the naming system has become a bit of a confusing mess!
It’s great to see that you can now transfer music and podcasts from device to device, click the i to see my video on that new feature, and another “missing” feature that I mentioned in my video of Top 5 things Google Home can’t yet do was that unlike with the Amazon Echo you couldn’t call between Google Home devices and use them as an intercom, only broadcast short pre-recorded messages. Well, via integration with Google Duo that feature is now available… although I’m not sure if it’s quite working properly because every time I try it it ends up calling my mobile rather than the device it says it’s going to call! I’ll make a video about it once the early-bird quirks are ironed out!
So, over to you! What do you think of the new Nest Mini? Are you disappointed by the lack of headphone jack or excited by the better sound? Let me know in the comments below and if you’ve enjoyed this video please give it a thumbs up, subscribe to the channel and take a look at some of the other videos on screen now.
If you enjoy the videos on this channel and you’d like to help support me so I can continue making more videos like this one, there’s also a link on screen now to Patreon, so please do take a look!
That’s all for now, thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next one!
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