Back in October, Best Buy was having a huge sale on their Insignia speakers with Google Assistant. I bought one for each of the two people who live in this apartment where I rent a room.
Sometime in December, he opened the package and got the speaker out. She still has yet to open the box.
Thanksgiving Day, Target, where I work, had Google Home Mini speakers for half price--$24.99--as doorbusters for Black Thursday. I ordered one and it was waiting for me when I clocked out.
It took a bit of configuring and unfortunately, there is no user-accessible battery unlike the Best Buy Insignia speakers, so if it comes unplugged, it doesn't work. Thankfully, it retains settings and re-connects to the WiFi connection on its own.
From the beginning, I didn't have much luck with Siri in English (Japanese was better), but Google's speech recognition worked for me. Google Assistant is fairly useful, but often tells me how it doesn't know how to do something. What was disturbing is when I asked "Where is my package from Amazon?" and it told me. When did I connect it to that information? Who asked me? How did this happen? Thankfully, it can't go into my wishlist, but I should investigate all of the connections to the e-mail account.
It is especially interesting considering the effort to get Pandora and Spotify to work. I haven't done a lot of talking to the speaker, except to start and end the music. Occasionally, I request a certain playlist that I already added to my account. Music playback is good, considering $24.99 and the compactness of the device. In some ways, it reminds me of a Bose Wave Radio in that it can fill the room with music. Vocals are good enough. Bass is implied, not implemented.
One thing that would really help would be a connection to iHeartRadio, since I miss various radio stations across the country, especially WDAS 105.3 from Philly. iHeartRadio is having financial troubles, so I'm not sure how they would make a deal. (Yes, it can be used as a Bluetooth speaker, but it was a pain when I did that and I don't want to try again.)
I'm not sure that I would ever pay more than $24.99 for a speaker with an assistant. Obviously, Apple's HomePod is too expensive at $350.00--you might as well just pay for the computer.
Google have changed the name to Nest Mini. I'm not sure that helps but it does confuse.