Galaxy Home Mini: Leak gives a sneak peek at the tiny smart speaker

The Bixby-powered AI speaker will control your whole home-theater and talk to your appliances

Everyone’s favorite beheaded BB-8 is live on tape. In a recent Twitter-storm of images, video, and product details, XDA Developer’s Max Weinbach shares a boatload of details on the Samsung Galaxy Home Mini — just two days before the speaker’s planned rollout on February 12. The Bixby-brained speaker that fits in the palm of your hand is Samsung’s long-awaited SmartThings-warrior designed for combat with the Echos and Google Homes of the Internet of Things (IoT) playscape.

Perusing the Galaxy Mini device features in the Samsung SmartThings app, what we’ve come to expect from our regular smart speakers is all here. The Galaxy Mini will read you the news, jam your favorite playlists, and send you notifications from connected smart devices, such as doorbells and Samsung washers. Music playback will be available in both stereo and multiroom modes, allowing you to link a bunch of Minis together for whole-home sound. According to Weinbach and sources, the speaker features Bluetooth linking for pairing with other smart speakers and, volume-wise, the Mini gets loud.

All cool news, but pretty standard fare. What really sets the little titan apart from the competition?

The infrared (IR) blasting, of course.

The Galaxy Mini speaks the age-old language of nearly all of our at-home electronics. With a few simple taps in the SmartThings app, users will be able to program their favorite TVs, soundbars, game systems, and streaming devices straight into the Mini, turning the speaker into an all-in-one remote-control command post.

With Bixby at the helm, you can simply walk into your living room and tell your Mini to turn on some Netflix. In just a few seconds, your TV and soundbar will be turned on and set to the correct inputs, with Netflix launched. The IR blasters have about a 40-f00t range, making it a match for the average living room or home theater cave.

The Mini does seem to have a couple of drawbacks, but it’s mostly minor stuff. For one, there are apparently no 5GHz capabilities. This isn’t make-it-or-break-it news, since many in-home IoT devices launch without that second antenna, but it would have been nice to have the option to choose which Wi-Fi band the Mini would live on. On the hardware end of things, there’s also no line-out jack. Again, not a huge deal, especially with the speaker’s various Bluetooth options for music, but a plug-and-play option never hurts. This being the first-gen run for the Mini, we can easily see both the 5GHz-band and line-out jack being integrated into future models.

Now that we’ve covered the future, what about the past? The Galaxy Home Mini is sure to be a big win for Samsung fans, but whatever happened to the Galaxy Home standard edition? Recent news would suggest that Samsung is still perfecting the Mini’s big brother and, as of now, there’s no release date in sight. While it’s a bit of an oddball move on Samsung’s part to launch the little guy first, at least users are able to get a taste of Samsung’s IoT chops before their bigger smart speaker hits the shelves.

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