Xiaomi’ a Mi Smart Speaker is here to play

Mala Bhargava | Updated on October 06, 2020

It looks bigger than it sounds, but offers up some competition to the smaller Alexa speaker

Xiaomi may have entered India with one little smartphone. But look where they are now. From water purifiers to shoes, power banks to smart lights, they’ve been bringing in their products into India at a fast clip. And now they’ve decided to play in yet another buzzing category — smart speakers. Alexa, you’ve got competition.

Xiaomi just launched the Mi Smart Speaker, a Google Assistant smart speaker that can play music, control compatible smart home products and respond to your questions. It has a pleasing enough yet unobtrusive all-metal design that feels cool to the touch and is reassuringly heavy.

According to a 2019 IDC report tracking smart speakers in India, this is a segment that is steadily growing with Amazon’s Echo taking the lead and Google Home not far behind. Of course, other brands have launched their own smart speakers (such as Lenovo, Harman Kardon, Eufy) with integrated smart voice assistants into their products (such as Polk Audio systems and Bose home speakers) but they all either use the Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.

At a price of ₹3,499, the Mi Smart Speaker actually competes with Amazon’s Echo Dot and Google’s Home Mini. It happens to sound better than both and that’s not surprising considering it’s bigger giving the single speaker a lot of room to ‘breathe’ and for the sound to resonate within a larger enclosure.

While the Echo Dot and Home Mini are almost hockey puck-sized speakers, the Mi speaker is thrice the size.

And while Xiaomi will tell you that it has a ‘massive’ 63.5mm driver - in reality, that is just 2.5-inches. To be fair, this is significantly larger than the 1.6-inch drivers in the Home Mini and Echo Dot but considering the speaker is bigger, it could have had a 4-inch speaker inside too.

Setting up the speaker is a breeze using the Google Home app. You can also choose to do a voice match so that it recognises your voice. The two far-field microphones on top are enough but obviously not as sensitive as the 7 or 8 mic arrays in some of the more expensive smart speakers.

You can go into the Home app and adjust wake sensitivity over 5 levels, adjust bass/treble, switch on night mode and so on.

Overall, if you’re looking to get into the smart speaker space with a smart-looking, decent-sounding and affordable option, Mi Smart Speaker ticks all the right boxes.

Price: ₹3,499

Pros: Ultra-affordable, one-year Gaana subscription included, elegant all-metal design, can set up pair in stereo, Google Assistant-based

Cons: Doesn’t get very loud, casual listening only, single 2.5” 12W RMS speaker

Published on October 06, 2020

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