Google goes Goldilocks with Home Mini and Home Max speakers


— 12:53 PM on October 4, 2017

Google kicked off its hardware event today with a couple of new additions to its line of connected speaker products for the home. The Google Home Mini and the Google Home Max are fun-size and king-size takes on last year's $129 Google Home speaker, respectively. The Mini appears to be ready to do battle with Amazon's Echo Dot, while the Max looks to do battle with Apple's premium HomePod smart speaker.

The Google Home Mini appears dialed in to take the fight directly against Amazon's ubiquitous Echo Dot device. Like the Echo Dot, the Google Home Mini can receive input through Google Cast or Bluetooth. The Home Mini is, of course, powered by Google's Assistant rather than Amazon's Alexa, though. The speaker is covered almost entirely in fabric dyed in chalk (light gray), coral (red), and charcoal (darker gray) colors. The search giant says the yarn for the fabric was developed exclusively for the devices to allow sound and light from the four status LEDs to pass through.

The Google Home Max reverses the Mini's attention to cost and size reduction, offering up the same Google Home experience in a larger chassis with increased audio output. The company says the Max has 20 times the output power of the existing Google Home device's single 2" driver and pair of passive radiators. All of the Max's power goes into a speaker setup with a pair of high-excursion 4.5" woofers and two 0.7" tweeters. The company claims to have prioritized bass output with the Max, and it further claims the Max can self-tune its output using Google AI technology to match the acoustics of any room in the home.

The front of the Max is covered in the same fabric as the Home Mini, though the coral color will not be available. The Max is made of polycarbonate plastic with generous internal bracing that could help deliver increased sound quality at higher output levels. The Max can accept input as a Google Cast target, over Bluetooth, or by using the 3.5-mm auxilliary input. Google's largest smart speaker can stand up or lay on its side using a magnetically-attached rubberized base.

Both speakers are capable of all the same machine learning-powered tasks that the original Google Home can do through the Google Assistant. The Google Home Mini is priced at the same $49 as Amazon's Echo Dot, though the company didn't mention package discounts like Amazon regularly offers when purchasing three Dots. Pre-orders start today with customer deliveries beginning on October 19. The Google Home Max will arrive in December, marked with the same $399 price tag as Apple's HomePod. That big ticket does include a 12-month subscription for Youtube Red, which would otherwise cost $120.

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