tl; dr: While Google completely redesigned the Home Mini as Nest Mini, Amazon donated an LED display to the Echo Dot. The innovations are very good for both smart speakers. Even though the Nest Mini offers the better sound, the ecosystem and purpose decide which speaker is the better choice.
With the Echo Dot with Clock and the Nest Mini both Amazon and Google have redesigned their smallest speakers with digital voice assistant. The cheapest models are the most popular smart speakers on the market so far, also because both Amazon and Google reduce them again and again in the price to spread Alexa and Google Assistant.
Time for a direct exchange of the two new smart speakers.
Nest Mini and Echo Dot with clock in comparison
An Echo Dot (3rd Gen.), only with clock
The Echo Dot with watch, officially known as the “Echo Dot 3rd Generation with Watch (2019)”, is technically based on the third-generation Echo Dot and has only changed with the addition of the additional LED display. The dimensions and weight are 43 × 99 × 99 mm (H × W × D) and 300 grams, despite the screen under the fabric cover identical to the previous Echo Dot. But not only this is the same in both models, but also the 41 mm loudspeaker, which is why the Echo Dot with clock is acoustically on the level of the Echo Dot (3rd Gen.) and has not changed. Wi-Fi for 802.11 a / b / g / n at 2.4 and 5 GHz will continue to be supported. On the back, the Echo Dot with Clock features a 3.5mm audio output next to the power connector. At the top, which is bordered by the well-known light ring, the four buttons for the microphone, the volume control and to trigger Alexa are placed.
Four microphones should provide again for a good understanding of the inquiries. But not only for this they serve, but a tap on the Echo Dot with clock causes an alarm clock is put into sleep mode. This requires the microphones to be turned on, recognizing the user's typing.
More changes from the Home Mini to the Nest Mini
The Nest Mini, on the other hand, has done more than just change the name from home to nest, even though the new Nest Mini looks a lot like the old model. There is a notch on the underside to hook the Nest Mini to the wall via a screw – this is missing from the Echo Dot. Beneath the hood of the Nest Mini are more microphones than the Home Mini, a more powerful speaker, and a purpose-built machine learning chip to accelerate Google Assistant by processing more requests directly on the device than in the cloud, but for now only in English. For microphones, Google is now using three instead of two pieces to improve speech recognition in noisy environments. In addition, the volume of the Google Assistant now automatically adjusts to the volume of the environment. The microphones can be switched off via a switch on the sloping underside of the Nest Mini.
The speaker should also offer a better bass response – one of the biggest problems of the smallest smart speaker. Between 60 and 100 Hz this should be twice as strong at maximum volume as the Home Mini. This is achieved by a new amplifier.
The Nest Mini brings it to dimensions of 42 × 98 × 98 mm (H × W × D), making both speakers virtually the same size – and the Nest Mini is the same size as the Home Mini. This also applies to the speakers: The copy of the Nest Mini has a diameter of 40 mm compared to the 41 mm of the Echo Dot. At 181 to 300 grams, however, the Nest Mini is significantly lighter than its Amazon competitor.
For Wi-Fi, the Nest Mini with Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n / ac at 2.4 and 5 GHz offers the faster standard. Even with Bluetooth, the Nest Mini version 5.0 is superior to the Echo Dot with clock, which relies on version 4.2.
Volume control can be redone through the pages of the Nest Mini. To do this, capacitive keys detect the approach of a hand and then activate the LEDs on the top, each positioned at the edge to control the volume and signal activities by the Assistant in the middle.
The Nest Mini does not use an audio output, unlike the Echo Dot with clock. However, you can create playback groups on both speakers, and stereo speaker pairs on the echo. In addition, they can be paired with other Bluetooth speakers and transmit the audio signal to them.
For the power supply both smart home loudspeakers put on hollow plugs. The Nest Mini will thus give up the previously used Micro-USB port, because not all power supplies provide enough power for the Nest Mini. The power supply of the Echo Dot with clock delivers a maximum of 15 watts, that of the Nest Mini 15.4 watts. The power adapter of the Home Mini allows up to 9 watts. The power cable is 1.5 meters long for both new speakers.
The LED display of the Echo Dot with clock
By supplementing the Echo Dot with an LED watch, Amazon wants to make the smallest speaker the perfect companion on the dessert or in the kitchen. The LED display adjusts the brightness automatically to the light conditions in the room – the sensor for this is located at the top of the Echo Dot with clock. If the automatic control is not sufficient and who wants to turn off the display at night in any case, this can be done with voice commands such as “Alexa, turn the display off / on” Taxes. The brightness can also be adjusted by speech as in Echo Show 5 (test) and Echo Show (test).
The LED display of the Echo Dot shows next to the clock, in which the user can choose between the 12- and 24-hour format, with small dots to the right of the time also on whether a timer and an alarm clock are currently set.
Although the LED display only shows the time of day, a few inquiries are also shown on the display. For example, if the user asks Alexa how hot it is today, the expected maximum temperature will also be shown on the display in addition to the spoken answer. Also, a change in the volume between 0 and 10 is confirmed on the screen by displaying the set value.
Setup via the apps
Both loudspeakers are set up via the respective apps, ie Amazon Alexa or Google Home – the app still operates under Home. The setup is primarily to connect the speakers to your own Wi-Fi network and decide if features like Voice Match should be enabled. Since all of this does not differ from the setup of the already tested smart speakers and the setup is done easily within a few minutes, this will not be discussed again here.
However, the Echo Dot with Clock provides additional options in the app due to its display, which the Echo Dot does not offer. Thus, on the one hand the brightness of the screen can be controlled manually and the adaptive brightness control can be switched on or off, on the other hand the time format can be changed between 12 and 24 hours. By default, the 12-hour format is set. The “Tap Gestures” function to put an alarm clock in snooze mode can also be activated and deactivated in the app.
Sound and music streaming
The comparison of sound quality provides audible differences between Google Nest Mini and Amazon Echo Dot with Clock. The latter is much duller and more bass-heavy tuned than the Nest Mini, in which especially the heights come out clearer and come to the fore. The playback is less voluminous than the Echo Dot. “Frozen” by Madonna sounds almost identical on both smart speakers.
Compared to the Home Mini, the Nest Mini offers better sound in low and noisy music, and in fact more bass without using too much bass.
Google's Nest Mini is louder than the Echo Dot
The Nest Mini is also louder overall than the Echo Dot and comparatively low-level. Both speakers are at high volume but very high. Quite surprisingly, the Echo Dot with clock is also tuned quieter than one with the exception of the clock identical Echo Dot (3rd Gen.), Which has used the editorial for comparison. Volume level 5 on the Echo Dot with clock roughly equals the volume 4 on the Echo Dot – an audible difference.
The sound at the Echo Dot (with clock) can also be changed by voice. “Alexa, raise the bass“Or”Alexa, set the bass to 6“Changes the sound settings. Similarly, the mids, treble and bass can also be adjusted in the Alexa app. While the Nest Mini can adjust the treble and bass – not the midrange – in the Google Home app, it does not. Such a command simply causes the Assistant to adjust the volume instead of the highs and lows. For the sound comparison, these settings were not changed for both speakers.
The Nest Mini's automatic volume adjustment to ambient noise is a nice touch, but it's only noticeable if you pay attention to it and know what it's all about.
For both the Nest Mini and the Echo Dot with clock, it is true that they can be used above all for a quiet background music, but one should expect no sonic miracles from the small speakers. A more expensive and larger Amazon Echo (Show) or even Google Home already offers a much better sound.
Guerrilla warfare at the music services
In the music streaming services that are being supported, the rivalry and the years-long conflict between Google and Amazon has been reflected in the mutual sharing of their own services with the competitor – for example, Google restricts YouTube to its own smart displays and does not allow it on the echo show. The Group does not support Amazon Music Unlimited, while Amazon does not support Google Play Music. Anyone who can not and will not do without one of these two services is thus bound to choose the smart speaker.
While Amazon officially supports Apple Music, Apple's music streaming service does not run natively on the Google Nest Mini.
On the next page: Power consumption and conclusion