The Nest Mini keeps the $49 price and Google Assistant, but improves the sound

Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored
Tue October 15, 2019

At $49, the Google Home Mini has been an incredibly successful smart speaker, thanks to its tiny donut sized design and solid sound. Most importantly, though, it introduced the Google Assistant to many people. But two years later, the second generation is here, and for starters, it isn't changing two core things.

The Nest Mini also costs $49 and keeps that tiny donut sized design. It's heavier at 181 grams, but it's still just 42 millimeters thick and about 98 millimeters in diameter. So yes, it's still pintsized, but the materials are now sustainable. The fabric mesh shell is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles and the bottom portion (which feels a bit like rubber) is made from 35% post-consumer recycled plastic.

It comes in four colors: chalk, charcoal and coral are back along with sky, a new light blue color. In addition to the four LED glowing circles on the top, like on the original Google Home Mini, the volume indicators on either side also glow. Plus, with ultrasound technology, the Nest Mini can light up when it senses your hand.

So yes, it's a similar design and a still affordable price, but what else is new? Well, you'll find the machine Learning Chip allows you to execute core requests and commands. That means the Nest Mini is intelligent enough on its own and can complete the request without sending it into the cloud. It's impressive, especially for a device of this size and price. It means much faster response times, which is terrific.

Sound is also better with an up-firing speaker that is twice as loud. Additionally, there is an algorithm onboard that tunes the sound experience. This should result in audio that is clearer, crisper and less tinny. Best of all, this is on-device, so it's not limited to Google Play Music but works any music being streamed over the internet or Bluetooth. And yes, the Nest Mini supports the new stream transfer function which lets you easily move where the audio is playing from speaker to speaker.

So that's the Nest Mini. Two years after the Google Home Mini, it might not seem like much, but for $49, it appears to give you an even better value. We'll have our full review soon, but for now, you can preorder the Nest Mini, which lands in four colors on Oct. 2.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.