Tech Junkie Review – Google Nest Audio – best smart speaker yet?

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It’s 2020 and smart speakers aren’t such a novel idea anymore. Many of us have a Google Nest Mini or an Amazon Echo in our homes. Companies are trying to out-do themselves with new features and better sound than ever before. The newest smart speaker from Google, the Nest Audio, promises awesome sound at an affordable price. I took the Google Nest Audio for a test in my home.

That’s a cute little pillow

Yup! The Google Nest Audio looks like a little pillow. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. In fact it’s one of the less “geeky” smart speakers yet. The design actually reminds me of the Google Nest Mini, just larger. It’s not designed to stand out, it’s designed to blend in. It’s available in 5 pastel colors including chalk, charcoal, sage, sand and sky. The unit I tested was chalk which I would describe as a light grey color. It looks sleek and passed the wife test when I set it up in our living room.

You’ll also notice that there are very few buttons on the Nest Audio. On the back you’ll find a plug for the power and a toggle switch to turn the microphone off. The other buttons are touch sensitive buttons on the top front of the speaker. Touch the top left and it turns the volume down, top right turns the volume up and the middle is a play/pause button. Of course, it’s a Google Assistant speaker so you’ll usually use the “OK, Google” command to play music, check the weather, turn up the volume, ask for a joke and so on. I also noticed how heavy the speaker is. It seems to have more heft than many speakers similar in size. Old audiophiles will always tell you that that the weight of a speaker is a good indication of quality. If that’s the case, Google passes the test with this little speaker.

So how does it sound?

Good. Really good! If you’re used to one of the “mini” smart home speakers, this thing will blow you away. It packs big sound, pretty good bass and is crystal clear. It gets loud enough although I noticed a little distortion when I cranked some songs up to 11. The bass is impressive for a small speaker but won’t replace your system with a sub-woofer. For the size and price I think the Nest Audio is about as good as it gets.

Yup, you can talk to it

I won’t spend time going over how Google Assistant works. You’ve probably used it or Alexa in the past. It answers questions, plays music, provides weather updates, controls your smarthome, etc. You can summon Google by simply saying, “OK Google.” It works beautifully on the Nest Audio just as you would expect it too. 3 microphones do a great job of hearing your voice even from across the room and the speakers make Google’s voice sound better than ever.

Wow, that’s really cool!

There are a few things the help the Nest Audio stand out from other speakers. I already talked about the unique “soft” design to the speaker. It also uses microphones to adapt the audio to your environment. It’s hard to notice specific sound changes but it just sounded pretty darn good. Google promises music that sounds better and spoken word that is even clearer. I can agree with this, it sounds crisp.

Want big room sound with full stereo? You can connect two of the Nest Audio speakers together wirelessly. This is a feature we’ve seen before but I can imagine (I didn’t have 2 speakers to test) how impressive it would be with a speaker that sounds THIS good being doubled. A single speaker gets pretty loud before getting distorted so 2 speakers paired together would easily fill a room with sound.

Overall

If you just need a Google speaker to throw on the kitchen counter to ask the occasional “what’s the weather” I’d steer you toward the more affordable Nest Mini. Want a great-sounding smart speaker that looks good, sounds really good and costs $100 or less? This is it. If you want a music playing powerhouse that won’t look ugly but will pack some punch, the Google Nest Audio is one of the best options available in 2020.

The Google Nest Audio is available at most major retailers or directly from Google for $100. Want to pair 2 together? Keep an eye out for package deals. I found a 2 pack for sale at Sam’s Club for $170!

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