Smart speakers and their respective personal assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant are a convenient way to stream your favorite music, control your smart home gadgets and ask nearly any question that may cross your mind.
The best part? You can get started for less with Amazon’s $34.99 Echo Dot and Google’s $24.99 Nest Mini, the least expensive smart speakers you can get. But which one is best for you? Here’s everything you need to know before you choose.
You use Alexa to control your home
Amazon and its Alexa platform arguably ushered in the use of smart speakers and personal assistants to control connected home devices. In addition to broad support, Amazon owns several smart home companies, such as Ring and Blink, and they all work without any fuss using any of Amazon’s Echo Dot lineup.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive smart speaker and have already invested in smart bulbs, garage door openers and other smart home devices that integrate with Alexa, the Echo Dot is a clear choice.
You want a clock and smart speaker for your nightstand
Unlike the Nest Mini, which only comes in a handful of colors, you can choose from several different models with the Echo Dot. For instance, the standard globe-shaped Echo Dot comes in three colors, while the Echo Dot With Clock comes in two colors and features a digital clock you can view through the fabric covering.
Looking for an Echo Dot for your kid? You can get one that looks like a tiger or a panda. And there’s even a stylish, limited-edition Echo Dot design collaboration with Diane von Furstenburg that is sure to be a conversation starter. Pricing starts at $34.99 for the base model, while the limited-edition design is $69.99.
The Echo Dot and, for that matter, the Nest Mini can both fill a small room with your favorite tunes from most music services, but don’t expect to be overly impressed with the audio quality. That said, both speakers are perfectly competent when it comes to listening to podcasts and casual jam sessions.
You use Google Home to control your smart devices
The Nest Mini uses the Google Assistant for voice interactions, which also ties into the Google Home app. If you have smart home devices like a Nest Thermostat or a compatible lock for your front door set up and connected to Google Home, the Nest Mini is for you. You can wake the Google Assistant by saying, “Hey Google” or “OK Google” followed by your request. For example, “Hey Google, adjust the temperature to 72 degrees.”
You use an Android phone
Google Assistant isn’t limited to just the Nest Mini, but also built into Android phones. When Assistant is linked to your Google account, and by extension your smartphone and smart speaker, you don’t have to worry about linking multiple accounts to different platforms (like your calendar to Alexa) — you can talk to and interact with Google Assistant on the Nest Mini just like you do on your phone. That means you can ask for your daily agenda, play music on your preferred streaming service or get news updates using the same exact commands on either device and get the same exact results.
In the end there’s not a huge difference between the Echo Dot and Nest Mini. They both are affordable and support a wide range of music streaming services and smart home platforms. Where the Echo Dot and Nest Mini start to diverge is when it comes to the rest of the devices you use on a daily basis.