Time to shine

Echo Dot with Clock

Nifty new Nest

Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Your favorite pint-sized Alexa speaker now comes with a subtle LED clock to show you the time, your timers, and the temperature.

$60 at Amazon

Pros

  • It has a clock!
  • Tap to snooze alarms
  • 3.5mm audio output to connect bigger speakers

Cons

  • More expensive than regular Dot or Nest Mini
  • Display can't show notifications
  • Only one color option

While it may not look that different from the outside, Nest beefed up the internals with a better speaker, another mic, and on-device intelligence.

$49 at B&H

Pros

  • Better bass and faster processor
  • Can be wall-mounted
  • Made from recycled materials

Cons

  • Touch controls are not great
  • No information display
  • Fewer microphones than Echo Dot

These are the two newest tiny smart speakers from Amazon and Google/Nest. Each kept the overall look and feel from the previous generations, and made some subtle (and some not-so-subtle) enhancements to improve the overall experience. However, only one has the digital clock, which puts it ahead of the competition, especially when you take price into account.

Little fabric disks duke it out

With so many obvious similarities, you might be wondering exactly what the differences are between these products. Let's take a look at how these devices compare on the spec sheet:

Nest Mini (2nd Gen) Amazon Echo Dot
with Clock
Weight 6.1 oz 10.6 oz
Size 3.9" x 3.9" x 1.6" 3.9" x 3.9" x 1.7"
Microphones 3 4
Mute button Yes Yes
Speakers 1 x 1.58" 1 x 1.6"
LED clock No Yes
Streaming Bluetooth
Chromecast
Bluetooth
3.5mm audio jack
Smart home controls Yes Yes
Virtual assistant Google Assistant Alexa
Pair multiple for stereo sound Yes Yes
Audio calls Yes Yes
Finishes Fabric — 4 colors
Coral
Sky
Charcoal
Chalk
Fabric — 1 color
Sandstone

Nest nails the basics

Pictured: Nest Mini.

The Nest Mini (2nd Gen) is an iteration on the Google Home Mini, introduced in 2017. While outwardly this Mini appears similar, the insides tell a different story.

Nest has kept the same general design and even a similar color scheme, though there are some small differences there. It has begun to tout an environmental ethos, claiming that the fabric covering on the new Nest Minis is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. The speaker is much improved, with a bass that is twice as powerful as before. Google has also included a new processor that has what it calls a one TeraOps of processing power to enable more on-device Google Assistant magic.

If you were a fan of the previous Google Home Mini and want to upgrade your original devices, or if you just want to expand your Google Assistant footprint in the house, then this is the device for you!

Tick, tock, Dot clock

Pictured: Echo Dot with Clock.

Like the Nest Mini (2nd Gen), this latest addition to the Dot line of Alexa speakers doesn't look groundbreaking. For the most part, it isn't. Gasp! However, what is different is pretty cool.

As the name suggests, this Echo Dot is just a normal Dot with a built-in clock. What's so great about this clock is that it is easy to see in low light or in dark rooms, but it's not so bright that it distracts you from what you need to do (like, sleep). The LED shines through the fabric cover, revealing the time, showing timer countdowns, or giving you the temperature.

I suppose the biggest letdown with the LED display is that it can't show you any other information or notifications (yet?). But if you were considering a bigger, more expensive smart display because you wanted an interactive bedside clock, this is a great alternative. As an added bonus, there is no camera to worry about covering up!

Which new smart speaker should you get?

Moving the ecosystem and smart assistant preferences out of the way, my pick here for the most useful small smart speaker is the Echo Dot with Clock. Operationally it's every bit as good a smart speaker as the Nest Mini (2nd Gen), but that LED clock, while so simple, adds so much functionality, which puts it ahead.

Of course, unless this is your first smart device or you are not heavily ensconced in Google's or Amazon's web of products and services, the ecosystems and smart assistants do matter. If you're a die-hard Android user who loves all that the Google Assistant can do, chances are you'll be much happier with the Nest Mini (2nd Gen). If you already have a bunch of Echos around the house and are an Amazon Prime all-star, then the Echo Dot with Clock will make you feel elated.

Time for a new Dot

Echo Dot with Clock

Now even more perfect for your nightstand.

The smallest Echo speaker now comes with an LED clock, and when an alarm comes up, you can tap the top to snooze it.

Booming bass

Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Improved assistant and better sound

There isn't much room in such a small device for large improvements, but somehow Nest pulled it off. You get better bass and more on-device smarts make this a smart buy.

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