Talk to the kettle when you get Home!

Low-cost dig­i­tal as­sis­tant – that hangs on your ev­ery word

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - MORE TECH - WITH ANDY O’DONOGHUE

Pros: Looks great Ex­cel­lent value

Cons: Weak au­dio No 3.5mm au­dio socket

Google Home Mini From €58 ★★★★★

The smart-home busi­ness is hot­ting up. Smart plugs, lights and even ket­tles are ap­pear­ing in more and more shops as we adapt to the new dig­i­tal way of life. At the heart of the smart home is a hub to do all the switch­ing and smart stuff. Ama­zon has led the way with its mar­ket-lead­ing Echo, pow­ered by Alexa, while Ap­ple launched its Home­pod this year.

How­ever, com­ing from the world’s big­gest search en­gine com­pany, Google’s Home de­vice should have some­thing ex­tra spe­cial to of­fer.

The Home Mini is Home’s smaller sib­ling – but at a more af­ford­able price. In the box is the small de­vice, a quick-start guide and its power ca­ble. Avail­able in three colours, the Home Mini is shaped like a 4in ice-hockey puck and is less than 2in tall.

It’s cov­ered in a lovely lat­ticed ma­te­rial and is more stylish than the Ama­zon Echo Dot – its main com­peti­tor.

To set it up, I down­loaded the Google Home app – quick and straight­for­ward as I have a Gmail ac­count. I then con­nected it to my home broad­band.

Once pow­ered up and con­nected to WiFi, you can for­get about the app and rely on your voice alone to con­trol it.

These voice-re­spon­sive dig­i­tal as­sis­tants need a wake word, so I asked: ‘Okay, Google, what’s to­day’s weather like?’

The Home Mini re­sponded with its weather fore­cast, let­ting me know that it was cloudy out­side.

It an­swers all man­ner of ques­tions, us­ing Google’s search en­gine to find the in­for­ma­tion. It also in­te­grates with your Google ac­count – so you can ask, for ex­am­ple, about the con­tents of your cal­en­dar or how long it takes to drive to a spe­cific desti­na­tion. The real fun starts when you con­nect it to any smarthome prod­ucts you have.

It works with Philips Hue, Nest and in­te­grates with Sam­sung’s SmartThings.

Once such de­vices have been iden­ti­fied by the Home Mini, it’s as easy as ask­ing that the lights be turned off or that the liv­ing room tem­per­a­ture be nudged up a few de­grees.

The au­dio qual­ity, how­ever, is a bit of a let down and isn’t ideal for try­ing to fill a room with sound – but you can rem­edy this by pair­ing it with a su­pe­rior Blue­tooth speaker. The Home Mini lacks a stan­dard jack-plug socket, which would have been use­ful.

Say­ing that, the per­for­mance overall is re­ally good. It’s easy to set up and has all the cru­cial smarthome con­trols built in. Ac­cess to Google Search by speak­ing is bril­liant and, at the price, it’s an ideal way to dip your toe into the world of dig­i­tal as­sis­tants.

JUST ASK: It’s the ideal way to dip your toes into the world of dig­i­tal as­sis­tants

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