Last week Amazon announced a new set of Echo products, furthering their foray into smarthome technology. Not to be outdone, Google has responded by showing off their two new Google Home models, the Mini and Max home speakers. They are designed to cater to the low and high end markets respectively and improve on the original Google Home smarthome tech already available on the marketing.
The Google Home Mini
First we have the Google Home Mini, which is a direct challenger to the Amazon Echo Dot. Cheaper and smaller than its predecessor, it gives Google fans a chance to buy a speaker connected to Google Assistant, Google Play, voice search and Chromecast without shelling out too much to do so.
Unlike the $100+ price tag of the original, the Mini costs $49. It is about half the size and covered in fabric that comes in three different colors. It charges with a microUSB (not the best idea, but a minor inconvenience), so you will have to either keep it plugged in or charged up if you plan to take it with you. Portability is one benefit over the bulkier original model, since you can stream through Bluetooth.
The Google Home Max
Of the two releases, the Max is the more interesting. An absolutely enormous speaker, it is being released in response to Apple’s coming smarthome speaker of about the same size. It is also for the high end market, priced at a hefty $399.
What do you get for that cash? For one thing, it is a self-calibrating speaker. Let’s say you are having a party and the noise in the room is really loud. The speaker detects that and increases the volume unless you tell it to go down a level. When people start to leave the party it detects that and calibrates itself to match the less noisy environment.
It is also designed to detect vocal prompts much better than past models. While you can give an “OK Google” to get it to pause with the others, the original had trouble picking up voice cues over loud noises or even its own sounds. You could practically whisper the prompt near the Max and it would respond, at least according to the interesting demo from today’s event. Which means you could theoretically give orders from the other room.
You can preorder the Google Home Mini now, or wait until November 13 if you prefer the Max.