It seems Samsung is at last ready to enter the smart speaker market. New details and images about the Bixby-powered Galaxy Home Mini have appeared online just one day before Samsung is set to reveal a slew of new devices at its winter Unpacked event.
Max Weinbach tweeted a series of videos and screenshots showing off the Galaxy Home Mini’s design, specs and companion app. Samsung previously posted on its website that the new smart speaker would hit shelves on February 12, but the company subsequently pulled back the announcement. To be sure, Samsung has been sending mixed messages dating back to the company's 2018 unveiling of the never-released Galaxy Home, a larger smart speaker also powered by Bixby.
It lives! https://t.co/kJ1X7LZUxi pic.twitter.com/TYWTfnrIvzFebruary 9, 2020
What stands out about the Galaxy Home Mini is its apparent built-in IR blaster remote, which should let it communicate with devices like smart TVs, cable boxes and other entertainment system devices within range. We’ve seen the Fire TV Blaster bring similar purpose to the Amazon Fire TV Cube.
The voice-enabled Bixby speaker is going up against Google, Amazon and additional third-party smart speakers. It looks to me like a larger Echo Dot/Nest Mini hybrid with its curved body, LED status ring and and top control panel. And while it will use Samsung's fairly robust SmartThings smart home platform, its reliance on Bixby rather than Google Assistant or Alexa could be a major hindrance to its adoption.
Samsung Galaxy Home Mini pic.twitter.com/mvVwGPG4FZFebruary 8, 2020
Leaked images of the Galaxy Home Mini’s base show the speaker will be powered by micro USB and won’t have a 3.5-millimeter line out. Weinbach said it will only support 2.4 GHz WiFi, too.
These things considered, the Galaxy Home Mini isn’t shaping up to be a smart home device worth getting excited about. It’s a shame considering the several-year saga that has been Samsung’s entrance to the smart speaker category.
Perhaps we’ll find out more about the Galaxy Home Mini tomorrow at Unpacked, where Samsung is expected to reveal the Galaxy S20 lineup, the Galaxy Buds Plus and a new foldable called the Galaxy Z Flip.