• Last Updated:
  • Nov 17th, 2017 7:00 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
2662 posts
1392 upvotes
Richmond

Google Home Mini

I just received my new Google Home Mini from Best Buy yesterday (C$79.99, a bit much compared to the US$49 price). BB was offering 20% off on other smart home products for pre-ordering the GHM last week, but that offer appears to have ended. There are no discounts anywhere Canada yet since it's a new product, but I see that Staples has it in stock now, correctly priced at $79.00 (those bandits are BB are charging 99 cents extra!). A Staples coupon might help, possibly with a filler to reach $100.

There are tons of reviews talking about what you can do or not do with Google Home, and it's still evolving, so I have just a few comments on the GHM:

- Mine is charcoal colour, but the cord is still white. It uses a standard micro-USB power plug, but in such a deep and narrow indent that few micro-USB cords would fit.

- To me the voice sounds muffled, too much bass and not enough treble. Makes it hard to understand from a distance or when there's something else playing in the room. It seems better balanced for music, not that the sound from such a small speaker is going to impress anyone.

- The microphone pickup is pretty good, although I sometimes have to speak up if music is playing. Maybe too good, as it will respond if I say "Ok Google" to my phone in another room.

- It does work as a Chromecast audio receiver, albeit with no stereo output jack as everyone complains. Surprisingly it also works as a Bluetooth audio receiver, a feature nobody seems to have mentioned.

- It will pair up with a Chromecast video to cast video and images, but it seems extremely limited in what it can do so far. Casting Youtube videos is possible, although it's awkward to get a specific search result. It's eager to cast your personal Google Photos. But as a more practical thing I haven't figured out how to get it to show an image as the result of a search, if that's possible at all. That capability was announced as "coming soon" back in May, but apparently still isn't there. If I say "Hey Google, show me the weather on TV", it responds "Sure, playing 'How's the Weather' from Youtube on Chromecastxxxx".

- Overall it's disappointingly dumber that Google Assistant on your phone. If Google Assistant on your phone can't find a sufficiently-specific result to speak to you, it will at least show you search results that are usually relevant. Google Home basically just says "I got nothing."

- As far as music goes, the goal is of course to be able to say "Play <anything>". But Google only allows that with 2 specific partners: Spotify and Google Play music, both only with a premium subscription. They recently added the ability to play your own music that you have uploaded to Google Play - but in order to do that you have to provide a credit card. Google really, really wants your credit card number, even though they constantly reassure you that they're not charging you anything - just yet.

- Google Assistant in the U.S. has the ability to identify music playing from another audible source (like Shazaam does), but it's disabled in Canada. Unfortunately Google Home doesn't seem to have this capability at all yet.

- You do need an associated phone running the Google Home app to set things up. If it's an Android phone that has not yet had Google Assistant activated, this will do it automatically. That's not entirely a good thing, as switching from the old Google Now to Assistant brings some changes, some new limitations, and some additional forced sharing of private information with Google. But you pretty much give up on privacy anyway if you're going to use Google Home.

- Teardown here: https://medium.com/@justlv/google-home- ... 9a23724a26 including some comments on the design bug that led Google to disable the top centre tap button in a firmware update.

So, very much a work in progress.

Comments? Tips? Interesting features you've discovered?
Last edited by Faith24 on Oct 24th, 2017 10:42 am, edited 4 times in total.
68 replies
Newbie
Feb 13, 2017
6 posts
Interesting.

I want to buy one to use as a casting device to listen to podcasts. I use DoggCatcher but there are others, obviously including google play music in addition to market leader Pocket Casts.

Have you tried it in that situation? While the speaker may not be ideal for music listening, it could be ok for spoken content?
Jr. Member
Apr 20, 2015
193 posts
27 upvotes
Brampton, ON
thanks for the review, currently considering getting one along with a Google Home
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
2662 posts
1392 upvotes
Richmond
bbourdua wrote:
Oct 24th, 2017 11:18 am
Interesting. While the speaker may not be ideal for music listening, it could be ok for spoken content?
More the opposite: it's better balanced for music reproduction than for Google's own voice output. But that might not be the case with a recorded podcast, and regardless I think it would work fine for listening to podcasts.
Newbie
Feb 13, 2017
6 posts
Faith24 wrote:
Oct 24th, 2017 11:39 am
More the opposite: it's better balanced for music reproduction than for Google's own voice output. But that might not be the case with a recorded podcast, and regardless I think it would work fine for listening to podcasts.
Great, thanks for the input.
Deal Addict
Feb 24, 2007
3534 posts
406 upvotes
I have two GHs on different floors. Depends on what you need for the Google Assistant, Home is better for music output and Mini is better for voice search (News report as in "how's my day"). I have one beside my bed to play relaxation music (white noise, ocean sound etc.) in the night. As well as controlling the Philips Hue lights beside the bed.

Also setup and use it as an alarm. Ask for weather report, jokes etc.. Work pretty well. You can cast anything on your phone to the unit with the app. No need to use BT.

You can use it to take reminder. Ask the assistant to remember where you put the stuffs and she will tell you where it is when you ask her later. Also can do spelling, calculation, currency conversion by voice.

BTW, I have 3 months free Google Music offer after getting the GH. Not sure if this applies to Google Mini. Don't know why the Mini is more expensive here than the US even after currency conversion. That stops me from buying it.

Overall it is a good addition to the house as it introduce lots of laugh in the house. There's some posts about GH recording your everyday voice and sent it to Google. It's not just the "OK/Hey Google" that triggers the listening. So be aware.
FS : Promise NS4300N NAS,Linksys RE400W,E5151,HBB1,VIVOTab RT,MemoPad 8
Sr. Member
Jan 13, 2014
597 posts
156 upvotes
Calgary
Early units of the Mini were always listening and sending data, but that's been rectified now. Basically, the "tap to activate" feature was always active, so they disabled it entirely.

As for the OP mentioning increased privacy concerns when switching from Google Now to Google Assistant on your phone, wouldn't that also apply to Google Assistant on a Home or Home Mini? If so, you already agreed to that when buying one.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
2662 posts
1392 upvotes
Richmond
Avatar wrote:
Oct 24th, 2017 9:34 pm
I have 3 months free Google Music offer after getting the GH. Not sure if this applies to Google Mini.
Yes, it does. The usual deal - you have to give Google a credit card, and remember to cancel before 3 months are up if you don't want to be charged.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
2662 posts
1392 upvotes
Richmond
Devhux wrote:
Oct 24th, 2017 10:31 pm
As for the OP mentioning increased privacy concerns when switching from Google Now to Google Assistant on your phone, wouldn't that also apply to Google Assistant on a Home or Home Mini? If so, you already agreed to that when buying one.
Yes, but Assistant on your phone has access to even more information about you.

Among the admitted information Google keeps about you:

- Your name and home address
- Your current location and location history, including now even which room you are in at which times with the help of Google Home
- Your search history
- Your history of interactions with Google Assistant or Google Home
- Your contacts
- Your email, which it scans and interprets for purposes ranging from directing specific ads to automatically entering flight and hotel reservations in your calendar
- Your calendar
- Your voice print
- Your TV watching (if you use Chromecast)
- Your music listening (if you use Google Play)
- Your credit card (if you pay for any Google services)
- Your phone calls (if you use Google Voice, Hangouts dialer, or Google Home to connect calls for you)
- Your use of apps on your Android phone
- Your text messages (if you allow Google to take over text messaging on your phone)
- Your chat messages (if you use Google Hangouts or any of the other messaging services that Google has bought)
- Your photos and videos (if you use Google Photos or allow your Android phone to use Google for backups), including any tagging of faces that you do

An evil global spy organization intending to control all of humanity could hardly do any better, and this is all voluntary, with the seduction of free services.
Member
Dec 25, 2010
210 posts
14 upvotes
Toronto
Faith24 wrote:
Oct 24th, 2017 10:42 am
I just received my new Google Home Mini from Best Buy yesterday (C$79.99, a bit much compared to the US$49 price). BB was offering 20% off on other smart home products for pre-ordering the GHM last week, but that offer appears to have ended. There are no discounts anywhere Canada yet since it's a new product, but I see that Staples has it in stock now, correctly priced at $79.00 (those bandits are BB are charging 99 cents extra!). A Staples coupon might help, possibly with a filler to reach $100.

There are tons of reviews talking about what you can do or not do with Google Home, and it's still evolving, so I have just a few comments on the GHM:

- Mine is charcoal colour, but the cord is still white. It uses a standard micro-USB power plug, but in such a deep and narrow indent that few micro-USB cords would fit.

- To me the voice sounds muffled, too much bass and not enough treble. Makes it hard to understand from a distance or when there's something else playing in the room. It seems better balanced for music, not that the sound from such a small speaker is going to impress anyone.

- The microphone pickup is pretty good, although I sometimes have to speak up if music is playing. Maybe too good, as it will respond if I say "Ok Google" to my phone in another room.

- It does work as a Chromecast audio receiver, albeit with no stereo output jack as everyone complains. Surprisingly it also works as a Bluetooth audio receiver, a feature nobody seems to have mentioned.

- It will pair up with a Chromecast video to cast video and images, but it seems extremely limited in what it can do so far. Casting Youtube videos is possible, although it's awkward to get a specific search result. It's eager to cast your personal Google Photos. But as a more practical thing I haven't figured out how to get it to show an image as the result of a search, if that's possible at all. That capability was announced as "coming soon" back in May, but apparently still isn't there. If I say "Hey Google, show me the weather on TV", it responds "Sure, playing 'How's the Weather' from Youtube on Chromecastxxxx".

- Overall it's disappointingly dumber that Google Assistant on your phone. If Google Assistant on your phone can't find a sufficiently-specific result to speak to you, it will at least show you search results that are usually relevant. Google Home basically just says "I got nothing."

- As far as music goes, the goal is of course to be able to say "Play <anything>". But Google only allows that with 2 specific partners: Spotify and Google Play music, both only with a premium subscription. They recently added the ability to play your own music that you have uploaded to Google Play - but in order to do that you have to provide a credit card. Google really, really wants your credit card number, even though they constantly reassure you that they're not charging you anything - just yet.

- Google Assistant in the U.S. has the ability to identify music playing from another audible source (like Shazaam does), but it's disabled in Canada. Unfortunately Google Home doesn't seem to have this capability at all yet.

- You do need an associated phone running the Google Home app to set things up. If it's an Android phone that has not yet had Google Assistant activated, this will do it automatically. That's not entirely a good thing, as switching from the old Google Now to Assistant brings some changes, some new limitations, and some additional forced sharing of private information with Google. But you pretty much give up on privacy anyway if you're going to use Google Home.

So, very much a work in progress.

Comments? Tips? Interesting features you've discovered?
My whole back and forth with getting one of these is that I already have a BT speaker that connects to my Android phone, which sounds much better than the Google Home Mini. Now, the advantage would be that the microphone is much better than on my phone, but other than that, are there any other features I can't do on my phone and a BT speaker? I feel like more and more Home exclusive features are slowly moving to Android phones anyway.
Deal Guru
Dec 10, 2004
11469 posts
1108 upvotes
Kanata
rjw85 wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 2:14 pm
My whole back and forth with getting one of these is that I already have a BT speaker that connects to my Android phone, which sounds much better than the Google Home Mini. Now, the advantage would be that the microphone is much better than on my phone, but other than that, are there any other features I can't do on my phone and a BT speaker? I feel like more and more Home exclusive features are slowly moving to Android phones anyway.
The microphones on the mini respond way better than the ones on my phone. I can be in another room and the mini will hear me. My phone needs to be pretty close to acknowledge.
I guess it also depends on your situation. I set it up so that everyone in the house has access instead of requiring my phone to always be around (and it doesn't recognize their voices anyways), but if you live alone, this is probably not an issue.
The mini is more of a convenience than it is a real replacement for google assistant on your phone, if that's what you're comparing it to.
Member
Dec 25, 2010
210 posts
14 upvotes
Toronto
goofball wrote:
Oct 26th, 2017 8:25 am
The microphones on the mini respond way better than the ones on my phone. I can be in another room and the mini will hear me. My phone needs to be pretty close to acknowledge.
I guess it also depends on your situation. I set it up so that everyone in the house has access instead of requiring my phone to always be around (and it doesn't recognize their voices anyways), but if you live alone, this is probably not an issue.
The mini is more of a convenience than it is a real replacement for google assistant on your phone, if that's what you're comparing it to.
Yeah, that's essentially what I'm comparing it to. That and the fact that my wife and son can actually speak to it to is a plus, as opposed to just me on my phone. Is there a limit on how many users can be on it?
Deal Guru
Dec 10, 2004
11469 posts
1108 upvotes
Kanata
rjw85 wrote:
Oct 26th, 2017 4:01 pm
Yeah, that's essentially what I'm comparing it to. That and the fact that my wife and son can actually speak to it to is a plus, as opposed to just me on my phone. Is there a limit on how many users can be on it?
I believe it has the same limitation as Google Home, 6 accounts
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
2662 posts
1392 upvotes
Richmond
Amusing retrospective review of 1980s home automation with early X10 gear, and 1990s voice control with "HAL-9000". It's remarkably similar to what you can do now.

[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
2662 posts
1392 upvotes
Richmond
A few more observations on the Google Home mini:

I mentioned that the voice output sounds muffled to me, although music seems properly balanced. Voice output from radio streams or podcasts also seems fine. I think Google has customized the default Google Home voice for the full-size Google Home speaker, and it's wrongly balanced for the Mini. They should have a separate voice for the Mini.

A lot of people are asking Google why Google Home doesn't support stereo Bluetooth output to a better Bluetooth speaker system for music, like Amazon Echo does. After all, it supports Bluetooth input. No clear answer from Google. Maybe they'll add it in future.

I haven't had much chance to experiment more with what the Google Home Mini can do. Most of the time it fails when I try new things. About the only useful new things I've discovered is that it can play any radio station stream supported by TuneIn (like our local news station), and that it can set my dimmer bulbs by %.

It's a bit annoying that timed reminders result in only a little "bleep" and "I have a reminder for <person>.". If the GHM is on low volume, and I'm not close enough to hear it and say "Ok Google, what is the reminder?", it never repeats the reminder or gives any indication that I have missed a reminder. It suggests that you can say "Hey Google, what's up?" to get information about missed reminders, but of course that requires you to realize that you might have missed reminders.

Slight quirk on connecting the Google Home Mini to 5 Ghz WiFi - it can only be done from a mobile device that supports 5 GHz, because the device running the Google Home app has to be able to connect to the GHM on 5 GHz during setup. The GHM has only a single antenna (see the teardown link in the first post), so it can't support simultaneous dual bands, e.g., to talk to the setup device on 2.4 GHz while searching for 5 GHz networks.

Top