Launched, again on Kickstarter, as a follow-up to the MuteMe, the MuteMe Mini is a more compact version of the simple video-call mute button. I reviewed the original MuteMe just under a year ago and concluded that, although useful, it was both expensive and of questionable build quality. Does this version, particularly in its new form factor, work any better? Here’s my MuteMe Mini review.
Well, first of all, there’s no box here. The tiny MuteMe Mini comes in a simple plastic blister with a cardboard backing. It’s small enough that it’s sent in nothing more than a Jiffy bag. Open up the plastic folds, slip the cardboard out and the Mini is in your hand.
In fact, the mould for the device is a little too large, so it tends to rattle around inside a little too much for my liking. This is because there are two versions of the MuteMe Mini, with different USB connectors, but they’ve only created one version of the packaging. Hence, I have the USB-C version sitting inside a plastic blister meant for a larger USB-A connector. A snugger version for the USB-C version would have been nice.
Looking a little like a stubby USB memory stick, with either a USB-A or USB-C connector, this will plug directly into your computer. The main body of it is a combination of plastic and metal. The plastic, on the front and rear, is the part that lights up, and the stainless steel is the touch-sensitive button that allows you to toggle mute.
So, once plugged in and the software is running, it will glow red or green depending on the mute status. Hit the metal part of the Mini and it will toggle to the opposite state.
I had two concerns with the hardware:
- When pressing down on the Mini, you can see it flex slightly within the USB port. How much strain will this be putting on the MuteMe and, more importantly, your computer’s USB port? I can see this as a particular issue when some members of the family are less light-fingered with how they press it.
- The light is a lot more subtle and uneven with the Mini. I’m guessing there are LEDs hidden inside and the opaque nature of the plastic used means that they shine through, without needing too many. In this case, though, it’s led to something that looks more patchy. The smaller form-factor is also not as bright as its bigger brother – this means that I’ve switched from the “dim” brightness setting to “bright”. I suspect few people have both versions, so it would seem churlish to complain that I can’t have different configurations for different devices.
Not much has changed since my original review, other than the stability, which is very much resolved. Indeed, it’s much quicker and there’s even, for Mac owners, an M1-specific version too, for maximum performance.
The MuteMe Mini uses exactly the same software as the original Mute Me and is downloadable for free from the company’s website. It’s available for Mac, Windows and Linux.
The software allows you to configure the look of the MuteMe (the colours used, whether they flash, flash speed, etc.) as well as how it interacts with each type of video conferencing app that it’s compatible with. There are 3 levels of “App Sync” available:
- Level 1: Microphone Sync – this allows the system’s default microphone to stay in sync with MuteMe. At this level, the mute/unmute button in the conferencing app won’t change when your MuteMe status changes. You’d use this setting when you want to mute but don’t want others to know you are muted.
- Level 2: Mute/Unmute Button Sync – the system’s default microphone and the mute/unmute button in the conferencing app stays in sync with MuteMe. At this level, MuteMe won’t be able to see when you change your mute status from the conferencing app. You’d use this setting when you only want to use MuteMe to control your mute status but don’t want others to be able to unmute you.
- Level 3: Full Sync – The system’s default microphone and the mute/unmute button in the conferencing app are fully in sync with MuteMe. At this level, MuteMe will detect when you change your mute status from the conferencing app. You’d use this setting when you still want to use the mute/unmute button in the conferencing app alongside MuteMe.
One thing that has changed in the past six months is app compatibility, which has improved. The maximum Sync level of each app that it works with is as follows:
Up to level 3 – Zoom, Microsoft Teams*, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype and Discord
Up to level 2 – Google Meet
Only level 1 – Amazon Chime, Slack & Facetime
*Level 2 and 3 for Teams is currently in beta and may be unstable.
It’s worth drilling into this a little as the cost of the original MuteMe was one of my previous concerns. Whereas that version cost $39, the Mini is a more respectable $19. However, shipping to the UK $16.96, whichever version you buy. That translates as a total cost of around £45 for the MuteMe Mini. To say that’s punchy is really an understatement. MuteMe could avoid a lot of this cost by selling it directly in the UK, but they don’t. It’s US delivery or nothing.
This is where getting these things earlier with Kickstarter comes in useful. I paid a total of $30 at the time, which is a much-more respectable £25.
MuteMe Mini review verdict
The MuteMe Mini is great. Plug it in, make sure the software is running and you have flexible control over your microphone. The software is so much better than it was six months ago, particularly with regard to stability on the Mac.
I stopped using the original MuteMe in my office when I started using my Stream Deck for the same purpose. However, it remained floating around my living room for when I have ad-hoc video calls with friends and family and, in particular, our regular Saturday night virtual pub quiz. The Mini is unlikely to surpass that as the large size of the original is ideal for other members of the family who are less dextrous when it comes to hitting flashing objects in a hurry. However, I can see it as something that will travel with me for away-from-home mobile use.
MuteMe Mini Review
Value for Money
It’s a great idea – compact, good software and easy to use. But hardware niggles aside, this is far too expensive for anyone not living in the US
- Compact and easy to use
- The software is great and offers lots of features
- Both USB-A and USB-C versions are available
- That price makes me weep!
- I worry about constant strain on the USB port
- The light is uneven and not particularly bright