When it comes to setting up a smart home a huge factor in making it as wireless and impressive as possible is making sure that you have the capability to activate your different devices via nothing more than a voice command rather than having to fiddle with switches and actually physically moving. The horror.
So, you have to choose yourself a voice assistant that will be able to control the devices in your home from your verbal commands. Luckily, you are going to have a few to choose from, with Amazon’s Echo Dot or the Google Home Mini probably making up your best bets when it comes to your final choices?
Why these two? Well, being blunt, if you are looking to turn a dorm room into a smart home, then you are probably a student. I know from first-hand experience that students don’t have that much money – and these are the cheapest options. There you have it – the two least expensive voice assistants on the market today.
Which do you need though? Well, let’s run through the benefits of each.
Both of these voice assistants come priced at around $50 – so there is no real difference to help us choose, so a big question we can ask is what can each of these devices do for you?
Well, as you might expect, the Google home mini is capable of communicating with the Google Assistant, so that any questions, songs or other internet-based questions you might have are answered easily enough with all of the help that Google can offer you.
You can also expect a lot more than an imaginary friend to talk to – the Google Home Mini is also capable of making free voice calls to your friends, so you are always going to be in contact with your friends if you need them – and you will be able to choose which friends you want to call by syncing your Google Home Mini to your Google account – which will also give you the ability to amend and hear your calendar on the fly, which is pretty hand if you want reminders on your deadlines on demand.
Realistically though, one of the biggest draws towards the Google Home Mini is that it connects and plays so well with other devices. You can enable the Google Home Mini to connect with a range of devices around your dorm, so that you can have it play Netflix on your television, music through your Bluetooth speakers or even work alongside your smart appliances.
It’s really easy to connect your Google Home Mini to these devices, which in conjunction with the Google Home Mini’s connection to the Google Home app and the other devices which can work off of Google’s smart applications makes a very powerful case for this to be the voice assistant you choose.
The Echo Dot is a different voice assistant that works much in the same way – but has some critically different features.
It can still play well with network-attached applications and devices like speakers, but without the functionality and ease of use that comes along with Google’s home-based applications. But, in a trade-off for your Google account, you can sign into the Echo Dot with your Amazon account, which means that you will be able to cast Amazon Prime Video at a moments notice, and have your audible account connected (and Amazon Music too).
Basically, with an Amazon Echo Dot, you are going to be able to do everything you can do with a Google Home Mini, with the key difference being that you are signed in to your Amazon account rather than your Google account – which also allows you to order things from Amazon.com directly, just by asking your voice assistant.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that as a student there won’t be all that much Amazon.com ordering happening, especially if you want to keep your costs down. So, with that in mind, we are going to recommend the Google Home Mini as the go-to voice assistant for your dorm room.
It’s easy to manage on your phone, easy to connect to different devices in your dorm, and above all, it’s a very helpful deskmate to have available as you study – calendar notifications and free voice calls being two of the biggest positives here that the Echo Dot doesn’t have.
One negative that is shared by both voice assistants though is the speakers on the device itself. They can be pretty weak, and not capable of giving out the noise capable of aiding study (or background soundtrack to hanging out) that might be more capable with a set of good, Bluetooth capable speakers – more on them later.