The Google Home Mini is the gateway drug Google desperately needed to compete with Amazon’s Echo lineup. If you already have a Google Home, adding a Mini to another room is a no-brainer. If you’ve yet to decide which smart-home ecosystem to buy into, your decision will be more complicated.
Like the Echo Dot, a Google Home Mini can do everything its larger sibling can do. The bulk of the processing power it needs is in the cloud, so very little is needed in the device itself. The biggest difference lies in the speaker; and on that score, the Mini sucks just as badly as an Echo Dot. But I can’t imagine anyone relying on a Mini for music reproduction any more than I can a Dot.
The Google Home Mini and the Echo Dot are essentially smart-home extension cords. They’re cheap enough that you can put one in every room, so you can tap the power of the cloud from anywhere. For me, that means being able to control my smart home with voice commands from just about every room, including my enclosed patio and the garage.