If you're scouting the market for a good entry-level smart home speaker, chances are that you are torn between two of the most popular choices — Google Home Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot.
Priced at a little lower than $50, these speakers can raise your productivity with their wide range of built-in features and add-ons. Plus, don't forget their hassle-free participation (read, streaming online songs) in a party.
Yes, these are the good sides of these smart speakers. But, as is the case with every product, there's a good side and, then, there's the bad side. The same is the case with the Amazon Alexa-powered Echo Dot and the Google Assistant-powered Home Mini.
So, it's only natural that we pit both the smart speakers against each other and see which one wins the crown for the best budget speaker.
Note: Both the smart home speakers are in an active development phase and you may encounter a few snags now and then. Plus, depending on your region, you may not be eligible for some of the features.
Design: Rounded Edge vs Sharp Edge
When it comes to the design, the Amazon Echo sports a sleek and compact design. It comes with two buttons for volume control, one for muting the mic, and an action button.
Apart from that, it has a distinctive LED status ring, which lights up in shades of blue when you trigger it. Besides, it sports an array of seven-microphones on the edges.
However, when you sum up the looks of the Amazon Echo Dot, you can't ignore its resemblance to a hockey puck, especially the black variant.
Though it's available in two colors — Black and White, you can accessorize this plain look with fabric covers. The fabric covers are available in six different shades.
On the other hand, the Google Home Mini doesn't have any physical buttons except for the mute button at the bottom edge. All the other controls like adjusting volume or triggering the smart speaker can be accessed through voice control.
Moreover, the added touch input gives an extra edge to this AI-powered speaker. Unlike the Echo Dot, the top of the Google Home Mini is covered with textured fabric and is available in three colors — Chalk, Charcoal, and Coral. However, in the longer run, the fabric cover may get dirty.
In the longer run, the fabric cover may get dirty.
These skills are easy to enable. All you need to do is head over to the Amazon Alexa app, search for the skill that you have in mind and turn it on.
As we said earlier, the skills ocean in Amazon Alexa is huge and it includes everything from bartending skills to supporting a number of smart gadgets.
The fact that Alexa has been on the market for quite some time gives it the advantage of enhanced third-party skills integration.
When it comes to the Google Home device, you'll find most of the basic skills built-in, thanks to its integration with some of the Google services. Checking quick facts, traffic updates, and spellings, can be done without lifting a finger.
When it comes to productivity, the Google Home Mini has plenty of tricks. For instance, you can get the timings of nearby shops or banks. Moreover, it can double up as a remote when you're watching your favorite Netflix shows.
Yes, the Google Home is fast catching up when it comes to skills/actions compared to Amazon Alexa. However, you can rest assured that these actions will be performed seamlessly.
When it comes to the sound quality, the Google Home Mini is way better than the Amazon Echo Dot. The Echo can sound a little shrill, especially when you turn up the volume by several notches.
On the contrary, the Mini can still sound mellow even when the volume is maximum.
Also, the Mini comes with an Equalizer in the Google Home app, which you can adjust as per your wish. The Echo Dot doesn't have explicit equalizer settings but the same can be adjusted through voice control. You just have to say, "Alexa, turn up the bass".
The Echo Dot can catch its trigger name anytime and anywhere.
But when it came to catching your inputs, the Echo Dot aces the test with its listening ability. It can catch its trigger name anytime and anywhere, irrespective of the background noise. On a more personal note, I have a slightly thin voice, however, I never found it as an issue while communicating with Alexa.
On the contrary, the Google Home Mini can hear you loud and clear only when there is no background noise.
If you ask me, sometimes it's a real struggle to trigger it, especially if you are standing a a few feet away from the device — a problem which doesn't exist for the Echo Dot.
Both the speakers can support almost all the major streaming apps. However, when it comes to preferences, the Echo prefers Amazon Music and the Mini prefers to play songs from Google Music.
Both the speakers also double up as Bluetooth speakers. All you need to do is pair them with a compatible device through their respective apps. Once done, you can play your offline song collection or even an unsupported app using the smart speakers.
The Omnipresent Effect: Grouping Multiple Speakers
Thankfully, multiple Echo Dots can be grouped together and the same can be said about the Google Home Minis. You can place them strategically around the house so that you can give your commands without having to move a finger.
This grouping makes these speakers double up as a broadcaster or an intercom system. This feature in Alexa goes by the name of Drop in, while Google simply names it as Broadcast.
Drop in is available only in the United States and Canada at the time of writing. However, Google's Broadcast feature works as far as you have Google Assistant enabled on your smartphone.
Wi-Fi Connectivity & Price
The Echo Dot and the Home Mini supports both the 2.4 and 5 GHz WI-Fi networks,
As we mentioned earlier, both the prices are in the $49 price bracket, although the Echo Dot is expensive by 0.99 cents.
Which One Should You Buy?
At the end of the day, it ultimately depends on what you are looking for in your AI-powered smart speaker. If you are looking to control a horde of smart home devices, Alexa would be the ideal choice thanks to its support for a wide range of products – both expensive and cheap.
However, if you are looking for a device that helps you in getting information easily and keeps your morning brief ready as you'd like it, the Google Home Mini is the right device for you. Plus, the option of seamlessly integrating multiple Google services adds to the list of pros.
At the end of the day, it also depends on how many features have been enabled in your region as well. So, before you invest, do check the region-wise limitations.
So, which one of these will you buy? Do let us know in the comments section below.