CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Mobvoi TicHome Mini review: Google Assistant and a battery can't save the TicHome Mini

View full gallery

TicHome has a button to activate the mic, a power/mute button, and two volume buttons.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I wish the top had some sort of light to indicate when it was on. That's not something you need to think about the with Google Home Mini, as it's always on when it's plugged in. Part of the usefulness of both Amazon's and Google's smart speakers comes from being able to issue a command, whenever I think of one, as long as I'm in shouting range of the device.

Managing TicHome's battery takes away from that peace of mind a little bit. Yes, you can leave it plugged in, but it still doesn't give you an indication if it's actually on or just charging. Plus, TicHome doesn't offer any way to check its battery life short of plugging it in.

Battery life and sound quality

As far as that battery, with 2,600mAh, it's rated for 6 hours of life, but in our tests, it lasted more like 5 and a half hours when playing music at medium volume. That's not bad, but Amazon's battery-powered speaker, the Amazon Tap, lasts 8 hours with its microphone turned on. The UE Boom ($299 at Amazon), a Bluetooth speaker without an always-listening assistant, lasts 15 hours.

The TicHome's other big advantage over Google's Mini speaker and the Echo Dot is that it's splash-proof. You can also connect it to your phone with a cool TapConnect feature. Turn on your Android phone's Bluetooth (the feature doesn't work with iPhones ($440 at Amazon)) then just tap your phone on the top-left corner of the TicHome and it'll pair instantly through NFC. TapConnect is neat when it works, but it only successfully paired for me about half the times I tried.

View full gallery

TicHome is splash-proof.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You'll need to connect it to your phone if you're actually going to take it on the go. TicHome needs a Wi-Fi connection to respond to voice commands, but if you want to bring it with you to the park, you can still use it as a Bluetooth speaker. Get your music playing and you might be pleasantly surprised by the sound quality coming from such a small speaker.

TicHome sounds good. It's a significant step up in sound quality from the Echo Dot and a little bit better than the Google Home Mini, too. It's quieter than the Google Mini at full volume, but has a little less distortion. Don't get me wrong, the TicHome isn't going to satisfy discerning audiophiles, but it definitely serves its purpose for casual listening.

The verdict

The $100 Mobvoi TicHome Mini is a competent battery-powered smart speaker with good sound quality for its size. If you're looking for a smart speaker, and your top criteria are portability and features, the TicHome deserves your consideration. Yes, TicHome annoyed me from time to time, but like that flashing yellow light that woke me up in the middle of the night, none of its sins are egregious.

They do serve as a warning that the TicHome isn't quite good enough to be a full Google Home Mini replacement, especially because it costs twice as much. If you're primarily interested in a petite, always-listening and feature-rich voice assistant, both the Google Home Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot are better than the TicHome. If you just want to take Google Assistant with you on the go, remember you can do that now with your smart phone. Google Assistant is built into a number of Android devices and you can download it as an app on your iPhone. The TicHome doesn't quite do enough to set it apart from the growing crowd of smart speakers, especially with more third-party Google Assistant speakers on the way.

Comparable Smart Speakers & Displays

All Smart Speakers & Displays

Best Products

All Best Products