Four years have passed since the first Google Home, and the battle between digital assistants (and smart speakers) now sees Google lined up on one front and Amazon on the other. Alexa versus the Google Assistant. And to the new Amazon Echo, unveiled a few weeks earlier, Google responded with the Nest audio, a smart speaker born with only one goal: to improve audio quality.
It costs 99 euros, just like the new version of the Amazon Echo, and it is not a simple update of the very popular Google Mini (later replaced by the Nest Mini) or the first Google Home: it is a completely new smart speaker, redesigned from top to bottom.
Nest Audio review, smart as always but much more powerful
As in any other product in the series, the packaging of the Nest audio it is as simple as it is neat. Inside, in addition to the smart speaker, only the power supply that does not use the typical USB-C connector, but a proprietary plug.
A whole new design
The first thing that stands out with the Nest audio is the design, totally different from any exponent of the series. The only element that has remained the same as the previous models is the fabric, which is now present on all sides of the product. The shape is that typical of a "soap", it is much wider and taller of previous models and integrates a rubber base capable of guaranteeing good stability and canceling vibrations at high volumes.
On the back there is a switch to disable the microphones, while at the top there is a touch surface with which it will be possible to manage playback and control the volume with the typical gestures that we have learned to know.
The external shell is made of plastic and, curiosity, is made with 70% recycled materials, but internally the whole structure is made of metal and is designed to protect the new 18mm tweeter and 75mm mid-woofer, flanked by a digital amplifier with a power of about 20 watts. They are then present 3 microphones and a novelty never seen in a Google smart speaker has been introduced: a chip for machine learning able to make it possible to execute the simplest commands even in the absence of connectivity, thus speeding up the processing of the response. However, however, only American users will benefit from this novelty (at least initially).
It's the audio that makes the difference
One thing is clear: those from Google have worked a lot in being able to create a quality audio speaker in a rather compact product with a particular shape. To do this, Big G has abandoned the full range configuration with double passive radiator, to a much more classic configuration two-way.
The result is a noticeable improvement in audio quality, not so much in the maximum volume of reproduction but in the spatiality of the sound and the balance of tones. In short, our general impression is that the sound has become cleaner and better in the management of low tones, which are kept much more under control. It is a mono speaker, however it can be paired with another speaker (preferably another Nest Audio) and set up a stereo setup.
In a nutshell, that the users of the first Google Home had judged the speaker too loaded on the low frequencies is a fact, and it is precisely on the basis of this that to produce the new Nest audio those of Google have well thought of redesigning the entire structure of the product, obtaining a much more pleasant result.
Smart hardware and functionality
To animate the Nest audio it's the same processor Synaptics AS370 A1 used on the second generation Nest Mini, flanked by 8 Gb of DDR3 memory, from the Wi-Fi modem produced by Marvell and a very small customized semiconductor to which Google has given the task of managing the neural recognition. And in terms of performance there is nothing to say: the microphones they are always sensitive and ready answers, it is also possible to choose the sensitivity level at the "Ok Google" command and even if we have found a clear improvement in listening compared to the Nest Mini, we probably cannot say the same by comparing it to a Nest Home Hub, still a tad bit higher as to sensitivity.
Too bad, however, that offline machine learning features will initially be limited to English-speaking users only, even because - essentially - this would be the real novelty from the point of view of smart features. For the rest, the upgrades stop there, and the reason is that the Google Assistant is not integrated into the device, but on the company's servers. Which means that, whatever the product, the functions of Google Assistant will be the same: it is difficult to be able to anticipate if things will always remain so, or in the future those of the company will change their strategy. But one thing is certain, the new hardware Nest audio it will certainly guarantee greater longevity.
Price and availability
The price of Nest Audio is 99 euros, and it is possible to buy it both on the official Google store and in the most important large-scale distribution chains. Be careful though: on the occasion of Black Friday, you can buy them two for the price of 129 euros and use them also in stereo configuration (find the link below).
And it is a figure more than justified for the quality of the device, in line with what must be considered as the main competitor of the Amazon Echo and a big step forward compared to the old Nest Mini.
Ci feels better e it sounds much better. Of course, it is not yet at the level of a real WiFi speaker or one of Sonos' many smart speakers, but the steps forward made by Google are tangible and if you are looking for a smart speaker of excellent quality, but with a rather low price , then the Nest audio it might be a more than right choice.
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