Smart speaker or smart screen, which is the better item for your home? We have some feelings about this that may help you decide.
Nest Mini (2nd Gen)
Mightiest mini speaker
$49 at Best Buy
- Improved speaker with twice the bass
- Better processing power and on-device smarts
- Now wall-mountable
- Fidgety touch controls
- No information display or camera
Now under the Nest umbrella, this second-generation Mini is a thoughtful iteration by Google. It keeps the same look and footprint of the original but improves where it counts — on the inside. A better bass and smarter processing make for a much improved smart speaker.
Happy home hub
$100 at Best Buy
- Pretty great screen
- The perfect Google Photos display
- Easy-to-use hub to control your smart home
- No camera means no video chatting
- Its been over a year since hardware released
- More expensive
After Amazon released the enormous Echo Show, Google/Nest brought a more reasonably-sized device to the market as the Google Home Hub. Now called the Nest Hub, this device offers smart screen functionality in a convenient package.
These two devices are geared toward the average user who just wants a well-made, good looking portal to Google Assistant, their smart home automation, and streaming services. The purchase decision mostly comes down to these three questions. Where do you want to put the device? Do you need a screen? Finally, how much are you willing to spend?
Okay, so we’ve established that these two Nest smart speakers look different and have different use cases. Let’s see how their features stack up against each other before we give you our recommendation.
|Weight||6.1 oz||16.9 oz|
|Size||3.9″ x 3.9″ x 1.6″||7.02″ x 4.65″ x 2.65″|
|Speakers||1 x 1.58″||1 x 1.57″|
|Video chat camera||No||No|
|Touchscreen||No||7″ touch screen at 1024 x 600p resolution|
|Smart home controls||Yes||Yes|
|Virtual asssistant||Google Assistant||Google Assistant|
|Pair multiple for stereo sound||Yes||Yes|
|Finishes||Fabric — 4 colorsCoralSkyCharcoalChalk||Fabric — 4 colorsSandAquaChalkCharcoal|
Nest notes — Mini edition
Pictured: Nest Mini.
The Nest Mini (2nd Gen) is a perfect example of how to iterate on an already beloved product. Keep the features that were popular (the physical size and shape, and of course, the price), and bolster the areas where it was a bit lacking (the speaker and smarts).
The Mini now has three microphones instead of two so the Google Assistant can better hear and understand your requests. I can’t tell you how welcome this is, as I’m a bit of a mumbler and it frustrates me to no end when my smart assistant doesn’t understand me. Speaking of smart assistants, Google/Nest improved that experience as well by adding a better processor and machine learning to the device. More of your requests can now be processed quickly and directly on the device, saving time and protecting your data by not sending it to Google’s servers.
The speaker in the Nest Mini (2nd Gen) was beefed up and now pushes out twice the bass than before. That was definitely a criticism of the first generation, and it’s good to see the company took this feedback to heart. It also seems that the speaker in the diminutive Mini is roughly the same (or even slightly better) than the driver in the Nest Hub. With that improved speaker, you’re going to want to place your Nest Mini in a more prominent location. Nest has you covered there, as the Nest Mini now includes a nook on the backplate that allows you to mount your Mini to any wall or surface, so you can project that Spotify playlist across the room!
Perhaps the most important feature of all is the price. The Nest Mini (2nd Gen) is priced at $49, which is half the price of the Nest Hub. Might as well get two to put them around your home!
Of course for all that is good, the Mini is not perfect. The Mini does not have a camera, so no video chatting with your family on this device (though you may consider that a feature!). Mini fans may also wish that it had some sort of display like the Hub, or at least a clock, like the new Echo Dot with Clock. Alas, not in this version. Perhaps that will come in the next generation.
Nest notes — Hub edition
Pictured: Nest Hub.
Even though this product hasn’t been updated since its release in 2017, it is still considered one of the best smart screens on the market. It sits in that “just right” zone of not being too big to sit on your kitchen counter or bedside table but being big enough to easily view your calendar, the weather, or the latest cooking video on YouTube.
Between these two devices, this is the one to get if you’re really into managing your smart home and monitoring your security through the Nest Cams or Nest video doorbells, and Google has made it really easy to set up routines and automations. It’s also a great gadget to showcase all of your family photos like you might do with a smart picture frame.
On the flip side, this device hasn’t seen an update since its launch and is starting to look a little long in the tooth. It doesn’t have a camera for Duo video chatting (initially Google touted this as a safety feature, but then later introduced a camera and physical shutter on the Nest Hub Max). It’s also worth pointing out that the Nest Hub is nearly three times as expensive as the Nest Mini (2nd Gen), so that is something you’ll want to consider before buying one.
You know what you want and what is best for your home, but if you let me decide, I’d tell you to get the Nest Mini (2nd Gen). Pound for pound it beats the Nest Hub in just about every important area for me: better speaker, better smarts, easier to place around the house, and cheaper too.
I know what you’re going to say: “but it doesn’t have a screen!” You’re right. If that is important to you, then your decision is an easy one. I like the screen in the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max too, it’s just not worth nearly three or more times as much for all I get with the Nest Mini (2nd Gen). Perhaps Nest will come out with an amazing, lower-cost smart speaker with some kind of display next, and if so, I’ll eat my words. But for now, go with the little guy. Get the Nest Mini (2nd Gen).
The nicest Nest
$49 at Best Buy
Improved assistant and better bass
There isn’t much room in such a small device for large improvements, but somehow Nest pulled it off. Twice the bass and more on-device smarts make this a smart buy.
Stunning smart screen
$100 at Best Buy
Look at the best of Nest and Google
The Nest Hub takes the best of Google’s app ecosystem and Assistant and combines it with Nest smart home powers to create a powerful home hub.