What the Tech? Google Home Mini versus Amazon Echo
Echo Dot? or Google Home Mini? This year’s hottest tech gifts are very similar but is one better than the other? We compare the two devices and find there’s one big difference everyone should know.
The most popular Christmas gift of 2016 on Amazon will likely be the hottest gift again this year. Amazon says it sold "millions" of Alexa devices over the Thanksgiving shopping weekend and in September the retail giant had a 76% smart home speaker market share according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. That isn't a surprise since the Alexa devices were first on the market. Now Google is trying to grab some of that market share with the release of the Google Home devices.
If you're just now dipping your toes into the smart speaker/personal assistant you may be trying to decide which one is right for you. There's no easy answer but here's what you need to know before you decide.
We'll compare the Amazon Echo Dot with the Google Home mini. Both are slightly larger than a hockey puck and are shaped the same way. The Google Home mini looks better with a fabric top while the Echo Dot looks more like the hockey puck. Both are controlled by your voice or with a touch
Both can answer most any question and give information about the weather, news reports and traffic conditions. They can both tell you what's on your calendar for the day and both can take notations of shopping lists etc. But the Google Mini connects with your Google account so it automatically knows where you work and where you live (if you've ever used Google Maps and entered that information). The Echo Dot works seamlessly with an Amazon account and can play music from Amazon Music and control what you watch on television if you use an Amazon Fire Stick streaming device.
The mini also does that through a Google Chromecast streaming device. The biggest difference here is your subscription. If you have a Fire Stick you'll probably be happier with the Echo Dot. If you have any Amazon device or if you subscribe to Amazon Prime you'll probably find the Echo Dot most useful. You can also order things through the Dot and get special deals only for Alexa owners.
Google will also play music through the Google Music app but requires a subscription. Google is also pulling YouTube from Amazon devices so if you watch a lot of videos there you'll be happier with the mini or other Google Home devices.
So both devices do what they're advertised to do, the determining factor is where you've put your interest to this point. If you're embedded in the Amazon eco-system you can't go wrong with the Echo. If you're not an Amazon Prime member, the mini is where you want to spend your time. If you're neither, the Google Mini may be the best selection.
I've got both and an Amazon Prime membership and I use Google products and I can see myself being equally happy with either device, But...I choose the Echo Dot for one reason. It can connect to any Bluetooth speaker. It connected to my bluetooth speaker just by asking. the Google Mini will only connect to speakers that can use Google's Chromecast. So if you want to listen to music over a speaker, you'll probably have to buy a new bluetooth speaker. that's a dealbreaker for anyone who wants to listen to music.
Bottom line: if you're an Amazon Prime customer you'll be happiest with the Echo Dot. If you're not within the Amazon Alexa eco-system with the fire tv and kindles, you'll be happy with the Google Home mini. Unless you want to connect it to a bluetooth speaker. Which you will if you listen to music on it. Both the mini and the dot are similar in price, around 50 bucks but you can usually find them on sale for $30-$40.