The new compact Yandex.Station Mini with an updated version of Alice is the embodiment of plots and fantasies about artificial intelligence.
If you saw the first version of the column, then just a glance at the gadget is enough to understand what work was done on the new product: firstly, reducing the height by 5 times to achieve compactness; secondly, the rejection of HDMI in favor of a standard 3.5 mm audio jack.
Yes, due to the lack of HDMI, it will not be possible to connect the speaker to the monitor, which is available in the older version. But then the “baby” can be connected to any own audio gadget, and the column will be an addition to it. In any case, in terms of the concept, Yandex duplicates the path of its American competitor with its Google Home and Home mini.
At the top of the column is an LED indicator that repeats the voice assistant logo. It broadcasts the speaker volume level and the currently activated mode.
There is also a physical microphone mute button on the case. If it is on, the indicator lights up in red.
Power is supplied through the USB Type-C port. For this, Yandex has a huge like - down with the outdated microUSB.
- Speaker: 1 pc, 3 watts.
- Microphone: 4pcs
- Indicator: multicolor light located on the top panel.
- Management: voice; gesture based on ToF-sensor; physical mute and mute button.
- Interfaces: AUX connector (3.5 mm), USB Type-C (power 5 V / 1.5 A).
- Wireless interfaces: Wi-Fi 802.11b / g / n (2.4 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2.
- Dimensions: 90 × 90 × 45 mm.
- Weight: 170 grams.
- Set: pleasantly surprised stickers.
Since the Station was initially controlled directly by voice commands, it is important that Alice can recognize all spoken words. No need to speak articulate or loud, “Alice” can hear the commands, said quietly. The only thing that negatively affects recognition is loud extraneous noise.
During the use of the “big brother” there were few complaints, but sometimes the fun begins with two columns - for example, if you call “Alice” in the kitchen, both respond, but the neighbor continues to listen, and the far one turns off. Sometimes this mechanism breaks down and the distant continues to listen. Let's hope the developers fix this soon.
A voice assistant has recently been taught to distinguish between voices, so you don’t have to worry that someone will ruin your wonderful and tasteful playlist with your servile requests - “Alice” understands who is asking to include this or that music (host or guest).
Do not want to talk or are you used to being controlled by hands? No problem. Thanks to the ToF-sensor integrated into the case, the Station is controlled not only by voice commands, but also by gestures.
The sensor allows you to evaluate the distance to objects within its field of view. Want to change the volume level? Place your palm over the column - raising or lowering it, you adjust the sound volume. To turn off the speaker, just put your hand on it.
At first, control causes difficulties, but when you understand where the sensor was hidden, everything immediately falls into place and gestures are not satisfactory.
Despite the advanced features, when we talk about Yandex.Stations, in the first place, we mean the column, which it is. If this is your first time holding a device in your hands, but at the same time using Yandex.Music, then all interactions with the column will be held on an intuitive level. “Alice”, based on your account in “Music”, will offer you formed playlists, favorite artists and really competent recommendations.
If you have never used the service, do not think that you will have any difficulties with the Station. You just need to spend a little more time interacting with her. So, for example, to add a song to your favorites, you just need to say while listening to it: “Alice - like”.
The column is controlled by voice: you can say that you need to include the next or previous song, or that at a certain point the music needs to be paused; you can also ask Alice questions without worrying that the music will stop - now Alice only muffles the music, finding the answer, and does not pause it, as it was before.
Since the release of the Bati of our new small column, enough time has passed and the changes are visible very well. Controversial issues were fixed, a lot of functions were added. So, for example, it became possible to set listening to a timer - after a specified time, the music will stop playing.
One of the new exclusive features of the column is the synthesizer mode - the reproduced sound can control air gestures, playing a melody along the column. It can be combined with any track by including it on top of the song being played.
Since we are still talking about the column, you should pay attention to the sound. This is not a professional audio equipment, but the Mini Station has good, albeit slightly deaf, sound quality corresponding to its cost. If you are worried if the volume of such a compact device is enough, then it’s not worth it - in an average apartment, even half the volume of this “baby” will be enough. If you want to fill a larger room with sound, feel free to turn up the volume to maximum - then sound will be available in neighboring rooms.
At the output, we received a well-developed and relatively inexpensive column, which claims to be a full-fledged part of the smart home system. Yandex worked not only on the compactness of the Station, but also on its capabilities, and most importantly - on affordability. Surely many will try Yandex.Station Mini as their first device, both for everyday use and only for use by children.
Final rating: 10 out of 10.