The TicHome Mini is a welcome newcomer in the world of smart speakers. It brings some excellent features that currently aren’t available on other Google Home devices, such as IPX6 splash-resistance and a built-in battery. Pound-for-pound it’s the most feature-packed smart speaker I’ve tested.
At first glance Mobvoi’s TicHome Mini looks like a baby Roomba, or slightly less like a hockey puck than an Echo Dot. It’s also slightly larger than the Echo Dot or Google Home Mini, at over 4 inches in diameter. And it comes with an attached strap, giving it a leg up in convenience — you can hang it on the wall or dangle it from a bicycle or backpack.
I was surprised by the speaker’s sound. Earlier impressions I’d read led me to believe it would be tinny or lacking lows. My experience with it was pleasant – it sounds better than the modest 3W speaker should thanks to clever design. A 360 degrees speaker-grill on the bottom helps it fill a room, but it does lose a touch of depth if it’s not set on or against a solid surface.
It picks up voice with no problem. In the week I used the TicHome mini I can’t remember any instances of the hardware not responding properly to the wake commands “Hey Google” and “OK Google.”
When it comes to functionality, I have only one gripe: the four LED lights centered on the top of the device aren’t easy to see from across the room. This means when I say “Hey Google,” I have to guess whether the speaker is listening or not. It’s not a huge deal, but considering the device is designed to be portable it seems like an oversight.
If the TicHome Mini had a light ring or other easy to see indicator it would make it a better ‘normal’ smart speaker. The things it does best, however, aren’t normal at all.
First off it’s portable, something pretty rare among smart speakers. Thanks to a 2600 mAh internal battery, it has a six hour playback time on a charge. It’s worth three smart speakers to be able to carry it from room to room without having to wait for it to power up and connect every time I change locations.
And it’s IPX6 splash-resistant, which means you can take it in the shower, leave it by the pool, or forget it in the rain. It probably won’t handle submersion – and we didn’t test to see if it would – but it’s one of the only smart speakers that’s good to go next to the…