Google wants to put the Assistant everywhere, everything from smartphones & watches to speakers, TVs and even cars. This is, so they can compete with Amazon and their takeover with Alexa. Google is also partnering up with companies to make devices with the Google Assistant built-in rather than making their own branded ones, one of which is the TicHome Mini which is by Mobvoi.
Back in 2016, alongside the Echo Dot, Amazon introduced the Amazon Tap, which was a portable Bluetooth speaker with Alexa built-in and the TicHome Mini is Google’s sort-of answer to the Amazon Tap. I say sort-of because the Tap was actually made by Amazon while the TicHome Mini isn’t made by Google.
I’ve been using the TicHome Mini for a few weeks now and while it’s a good device of its kind, there is still room for improvement.
Design & Hardware
The TicHome Mini has a plastic build with a metal ring around the whole thing. The speaker has a leather-like loop (with the Mobvoi logo on it) to help you hang the device on a hook in your shower. The device is slightly bigger than the Google Home Mini.
On the top of the TicHome Mini, there’s 4 RGB LEDs, an action key that can be used to activate the Google Assistant (via holding it down) or playing/pausing music (by pressing it once), volume up and down buttons and a power key/mic mute button.
There is also a dual microphone array which does work for the most part, but a few times, the TicHome Mini wouldn’t pick up my voice, even though I was like arms-length away. One other thing to note is that it can about a minute or so for the device to boot up but it seems like much longer.
The battery on the TicHome Mini is 2,600 mAh and only lasts around 6 hours which isn’t all that much considering that Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Tap speaker can get up to 9 hours. And if you forget to turn off the TicHome Mini, the standby time on the speaker isn’t that great and it’ll give you a low battery warning (via blinking a single LED) the next time you use it.
One thing I did find annoying is that there’s no real way to check how much battery is left, even though the device has LEDs, it only really indicates when it has low battery. You set up the device via the Google Home app and even there, you can’t see what the battery life of the device is.
The device charges over microUSB which is fine considering that will help keep the cost of the TicHome Mini lower that if it were to have USB Type-C.
For audio, the speaker is 3 watts which is good and can get quite loud but the actual speaker of the TicHome Mini is on the bottom of the device. That can make audio muffled if you place the TicHome Mini with the buttons facing upwards. I tended to flip over the TicHome Mini, so then the audio comes out more clearly.
The TicHome Mini has a IPX6 rating which means that it’s splash proof, which is fine for taking it into the shower (since it’ll only get a bit wet) but not for in the pool.
The TicHome Mini comes in three colours, Black, White and Teal. My review unit was the white version. It’s available from Mobvoi’s website for $99 USD (around $121 CAD) which is still priced under the Amazon Tap (which goes for $129 USD). Some may say that paying over $100 of a Bluetooth speaker but you’re getting the benefit it also having the Google Assistant.
The TicHome Mini has the Google Assistant built-in. So you can ask Google things like, what’s the weather, play your morning playlist and control your smart home devices.
The device is also technically a Google Home product but a third-party one at that because Google itself doesn’t make the TicHome Mini. However, to set up the device, you do set it up via the Google Home app. I had a bit of trouble setting up the TicHome Mini, where the Google Home app said the device was finished setting up but when I say OK/Hey Google to the device or pressed the action button, it said it “your device hasn’t finished setting up yet”, I had to reset the device twice before it started to work properly.
You can either ask the Google Assistant to play music or you can cast music from your phone.
During the setup process in the Google Home app, you’ll connect to your home wi-fi, connect your account and train it to recognize your voice. Like i mentioned earlier, there was a few times when the TicHome Mini didn’t hear me and I would have to say “Hey, Google” two or three times before it would pick up my voice.
Overall, the TicHome Mini is a good start to portable Google Assistant devices. I wish the battery would last a bit longer and a better way to check the device’s battery life.
The build quality is good but I think the speaker could be improved, especially the placement of it.
- Good build quality
- Splash proof
- Sounds good but could be better
- Can do mostly everything other Google Assistant devices can do
- Battery life isn’t very long
- No way to check battery life
- More expensive that the Google Home Mini
- Microphones have trouble picking up voice commands