Amazon vs. Google: Comparing the Dot and Home Mini Smart Speakers

December 29, 2017 | 1 Comment

by David Flament

Tags: , ,

photo of an Amazon Dot and a Google Home Mini
Since smart speakers seem to be the hot new holiday gift this year, it’s time to do a little comparison between the Amazon Echo and the Google Home product lines.  Here we’ll overview the differences between the Amazon Dot versus the Google Home Mini.

Price

Both speakers are $50.  On Black Friday, both devices were on sale for $29.  Deals may continue to be out there.

Physical Description

The Amazon Dot is the smaller of the two products, but not by much.  The Dot is about the size and shape of a hockey puck.  The Google Home Mini is a little bigger, with a flat bottom and slightly rounded top.

The Amazon Dot has 4 buttons on the top of the speaker: volume up, volume down, mute and action.  The Google Home Mini has 1 button located towards the rear of the unit for power.  While there are no actual volume buttons on the Google Home Mini, you can adjust the volume by touching the left side of the device for volume down and the right side for volume up.

Setup

Here the Google Home Mini wins hands down.  While it has more steps to complete, the process all works flawlessly.

The setup for the Dot works smoothly enough, but you need to leave the app to switch your Wi-Fi settings to connect to the unit.  After choosing the Dot in your Wi-Fi settings, you must go back to the Alexa app to choose your Wi-Fi network and finish setup.

Both set up processes for the Amazon Dot and Google Home Mini make you feel like you are signing your life away, so be patient with all the questions. Both products also require you to download an app to your phone or computer.  I find the phone easier to use for the setup process.

Getting Started

Using these devices is as simple as knowing the wake word to get their attention.  For the Dot, just say “Alexa.”  For the Google Home Mini, you can say either “Hey Google” or “Okay Google.”  You follow the wake word with a command.

Here are some popular commands to get you started:

  • Call 312-236-8569, or Call David Flament.  (Note: for both products, you will be asked in the setup process if you would like to download your contacts.  This enables you to call a person by name instead of a phone number).
  • Play classical music
  • Play WSCR on Tune-In Radio.
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes.
  • Set an alarm for 6:30 am.
  • Read the news.
  • What is it like outside?

 

The Differences

The Dot is an Amazon product and is extremely tied in with the Amazon ecosystem with all its services.  The Mini is tied into Google, but lacks the range of services offered by Amazon.

The Mini is a little more conversational, but the Dot is catching up.  What I mean about the conversational difference — if you ask who the 23rd president of the United States was, each would say “Benjamin Harrison.” The Mini would understand when I ask, “when was he born,” that I was referring to the previous question about the 23rd president.  The Dot may not follow the conversation and think I am asking a new question.

Range of Skills

The Google Home line of products is still relatively new while the Amazon Echo line has been around for several years.  As you might expect, the Dot has more skills, or things it can do, in comparison to the Mini.  However, Google is catching up quickly.  Right now, Amazon has over 15,000 skills that can be added to your Dot while the Mini has far, far fewer.

One nice thing about the Mini is that it can distinguish between different voices in your household.  The Dot does not have this capability yet.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is it depends on you.  Are you already a part of the Amazon ecosystem?  Do you already have an Amazon Prime account?  If yes, the Dot or Echo is for you.  However, if you are a Google person and use many of the Google services like Gmail, Google calendar or Google Play Music, then the Mini or Home is for you.

Either way it is probably time for you to jump in to the smart speaker market if you have not already done so.

David is the Manager of Assistive Technology at Second Sense

1 comment on “Amazon vs. Google: Comparing the Dot and Home Mini Smart Speakers”

  1. BethFinke says:

    Thanks for this, David. We went for that $29 deal on Black Friday and purchased an Amazon Dot. We reasoned it was the same price as a good old-fashioned talking clock. I do occasionally ask Dot what time it is but have found it most useful in tuning in to different radio stations. We live in a high-rise, many of my favorite stations hadn’t been coming in clearly on our traditional radio, and Dot solved the problem, everything comes in now. The Amazon Dot also makes it easy to try out a lot of radio stations in different parts of the country.
    I do wish the Dot had that Google feature you talk about here – the one where you just tap the side to bring volume up and down. But I feel we got our money’s worth paying $29 for the Dot.

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