The smartphones are no more the only ‘smart’ consumer product category out there, and If you are not living under a rock you must be well aware of smart assistants like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Amazon Alexa or even late to the party - Samsung’s Bixby. Now as you’d know, except Amazon everyone on that list makes smartphones - which are vessels for these smart virtual assistants, right? Amazon did It differently in what resulted in the birth of Echo - Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker with Alexa built in.
Smart speakers are really gaining ground and with Google, Apple joining the party the market is totally vibrant and hot.
With Alexa’s intelligence, a dumb speaker could do a lot more and supplanted a new category of consumer products called - smart speakers. Generally saying, any speaker with a virtual assistant built in which can help you do a lot more than just music at home, office or anywhere you’d like as long as you have power and Internet connectivity. Smart speakers are really gaining ground and with Google, Apple joining the party the market is totally vibrant and hot.
Okay Google, Hey Alexa. How Is It In India?
India our home, was totally oblivious of smart speakers until Amazon came along with Echo and Echo dot featuring Alexa - a couple of months back in India. Google recently joined the Indian smart speaker market - If there is one, with Amazon with Google Home and Home Mini. Whilst, Apple is still figuring out how to sell the HomePod in the US, I don’t think It’ll be home soon. So, In this article, we’ll find out how these smart speakers stack up against each other and which one should you buy. Let’s go.
The smart speaker lineup from Google and Amazon looks almost similar with Google Home and Amazon Echo sitting at the top, with their mini versions as Amazon Echo Dot vs Google Home Mini Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot targeted at lower budgets. Let’s compare each of the smart speakers with Its competitor.
Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot
Let’s start small first because If smart speakers are new to you, you probably would want to try out something before going all in. Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot are the perfect way to start your experience with smart speakers. Both of the speakers are priced at ₹ 4,499 and offer pretty much everything their elder siblings have to offer except the sound quality and some other features.
Design and Build
These smart speakers are aiming to be an integral component of your home, just like an appliance. They have to be beautiful enough to mix and amplify the look and feel of your home. So design and build are very important for these devices as no one wants to put a creepy talking speaker in their home.
Starting with Amazon Echo Dot, Its a sturdy, glossy, puck built of solid plastics and has 4 big buttons up top with a circumference of LEDs which glow indicating that Alexa is activated and Is working. Echo Dot is 3.3inches wide and 1.3 inches in height and weighs about 161 grams. It is available in 2 colours black and white.
The device is rather simple and we don’t mind it but the sharp design inclines the device to be a technological equipment more than a home appliance. The 4 round buttons on top can help you control volume, actions and mute the Echo Dot. On the lateral surface, there’s Amazon branding and a cutout for power port and Aux. The build quality is amazing and there are no complains about that, Its compact and solid can fit into any home space you’ve got. It represents technology and is well clarified in its appeal.
On the other hand, we’ve got Google’s Home Mini, the direct competitor to Echo Dot, launched a few days ago in India. I must say, Google has worked a lot on the design of this speaker which is small, cute and looks like a normal home appliance which won’t attract any attention to the immense smartness it beholds.
The Google Home Mini is covered with a fabric mesh which looks and feels amazing
The Home Mini is available in 3 colours - chalk, charcoal, and coral. The Home Mini looks a lot more elegant than the Echo dot and the colours blend well with the surroundings. The Google Home Mini is covered with a fabric mesh which looks and feels amazing, behind the fabric are 4 LED indicators to indicate when the Google Assistant is on and working. The power port is on the side and fits neatly. Sadly, there’s no aux, so you can’t connect other speaks with Home Mini.
When It comes to design, Google Home Mini is our favourite. It is more premium and feels a lot more natural home equipment than Echo Dot which is built to attract.
Since all of this is about ‘smart’ speakers, how smart these speakers really are is a paramount question. The brains behind the Amazon Echo lineup is Alexa, while Google’s devices are embodied by Google Assistant. Which assistant is smarter than other really is a big decider, which speaker your should buy. So, we compared the smartness of these virtual assistants by posing some questions before them and comparing the answers we got, simple as that.
Google Assistant forms a neat ecosystem with any Android smartphone might have you have.
Both Google Assistant and Alexa answered almost all of our questions. Alexa fails when the queries are regarding navigation and directions, Google Assistant just excels at almost all the tasks with some acceptable levels of inaccuracy in playing regional music. Alexa is a bit slower compared to Assistant in answering the same questions and misses are relatively more than Google Assistant. Moreover, Google Assistant forms a neat ecosystem with any Android smartphone might have you have.
So, Google Assistant for the win, straightaway in smartness. It understands questions better, answers faster and more accurately than Alexa. It also has a wider domain of questions you can ask than Alexa.
Apart from smartness, the other thing you expect from a speaker is the great sound, let’s see how our candidates fare in this aspect. So, we tried playing ‘Shape Of You’ by Ed Sheeran on both the devices for our test. Echo Dot, despite looking the more solid one of the two, was like a usual smartphone speaker at 50% of the volume, while the Google Home Mini was considerably louder than Echo dot and when we turned the volume from 50% to max. Home Mini just blew us away, the tiny puck is actually much louder than you’d expect it to be. So loud and punchy that Echo Dot just fades away before the Home Mini. It is loud and has a lot of punch, but It is not the best quality as you’d observe sharp trebles and poor separation. The Home Mini does manage to avoid distortion at full volume though.
Though, Home Mini is quite loud and has an impressive base. It won’t be enough for your living room If you are expecting that.
Though, Home Mini is quite loud and has an impressive base. It won’t be enough for your living room If you are expecting that. Both the speakers are not meant for such audio output, but Google’s offering still does an awesome job for a small room. Albeit, Home Mini sounds a lot better than Echo Dot, Dot can still be connected to other speakers via Aux, this convenience is absent from Home Mini and I really kinda miss It. When It comes to Bluetooth speakers, both the Home Mini and Echo Dot connect really easily.
Both the devices have an almost same set of music services, Google Play Music and Amazon’s Prime Services. When you request a music that can’t be found on one, they automatically switch to other services. We have no complaints with the music content on these services, still, Alexa has an upper hand with in-house Amazon’s music services.
When It comes to connectivity, we want to highlight two points here. How well these speakers connect to other infrastructure, the second one is how well these speakers connect to you. Let’s begin with the first one.
Google has packed Home Mini with a ton of connectivity options but an aux port, including 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 (input), Chromecast & Chromecast Audio. Echo Dot does have an Aux port and also features all the connectivity options such as 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5 GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP). Considering India is not really foraying in the wireless speakers right now, the Aux port on Echo Dot is of increased value.
Google has got a few more tricks of Its own owing to the tight integration between Google assistant on Android and with other Google services such as Gmail, calendar and YouTube.
Being in the market for longer than Home Mini, Echo Dot connects with a wider range of smart home devices. Its a big edge Echo has over Home, as It has a wide range of services and products that play well with It. Again, this point is not very important for Indian users because there are not a whole lot of smart devices in the market except some lights from Syska or the famous Phillips Hue. We tried controlling the Syska lights with both the smart speakers and they performed swiftly.
Google has got a few more tricks of Its own owing to the tight integration between Google assistant on Android and with other Google services such as Gmail, calendar and YouTube. If you use these services, Google Home Mini can be far more helpful than Echo.
Talking of Integrations, Alexa has a bigger skill market and much bigger developer community than Google’s right now. Plus, It integrates with Amazon to help you shop with just your voice, something Google Home can’t do. Echo keeps tabs on all your deliveries from Amazon and feels really good If you shop from Amazon a lot.
So, how well these speakers connect to you? Amazon has packed 7 microphones circularly into Echo Dot so that It can hear you from all directions. In our testing, we found that the Echo Dot could hear us clearly until 8-9 metres from It, which is really impressive. Home Mini has almost the same range but what’s amazing about It is that Google has just packed 2 mics inside this one compared to 7 on Echo Dot.
As we talked in the beginning, both the devices are priced at ₹ 4,499. You can get an Echo Dot from Amazon, exclusively. While the Google Home Mini is available on Flipkart. Here are the links to buy them:
For us, Google Home Mini is the winner, If you’ve got an Android, which most of us do, the Mini does a lot more than Echo Dot. One thing where Echo Dot is totally over Home Mini is Shopping on Amazon, but in all other departments, Home Mini is a cut above Echo Dot. Plus It looks cute, doesn’t It?
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