Review: Google Nest Hub smart speaker & home control centre


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Erin Lawrence

If you haven’t yet taken the leap into getting a smart digital assistant, you’re falling behind. But the good news for you later adopters is that now most digital butler devices are being designed with a screen to maximize your use and enjoyment. Google Nest Hub is the newest video speaker from Google, and it’s Google’s first made by Google speaker offering with a screen. I had the opportunity to live with the Google nest Hub in my house, and here’s what I learned.

What is Google Nest Hub?

Google Nest Hub is a smart speaker with a 7″ LCD touchscreen display. It has the Google Assistant built in so you can ask it questions, to do information searches, or to control your smart home devices. Read on for more about what it can do.

Can I use Google Nest Hub with other smartphones?

While Google Hub is designed to maximize the Google ecosystem experience, it works absolutely perfectly with iPhones for example. Just download the Google Home app from the app store. Want to lean in on what the Google Assistant can do for you? I’ve got a section on that further down. But first, to the features!

Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity

Using either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Wi-Fi gives you more permanent connectivity and interaction with other smartphone devices, but you can just connect using Bluetooth if a guest just wants to play a song for example.

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How to set up Google Nest Home Hub

This device will practically set itself up. I already have several Google devices in my home so adding this one into the mix was quite easy. First you’ll need to the Google home app, and you’ll need to sign up for an account if you don’t have one already. If you do and your login, just go to the ad device menu. The app and the hub it will do the rest. It’s extremely foolproof and should be easy for anyone to set up. Mine was ready to go in about five minutes.

Features of Google Nest Hub

What is Google Nest Hub Adaptive Screen?

The 7″ touchscreen is an LCD screen with a feature called Ambient EQ light sensor. The sensor detects the amount of light in the room and adjusts the screen brightness and colours so it looks natural and right. I noticed this right away in my living room; it’s easy to look at and read and looks soft and is without glare or harshness. You can tap on the screen to access menus, commands, settings or to swipe through content. of course this being a Google Assistant speaker, you can also do most things with your voice.

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Screen quality & watching videos

The screen quality on the Google Hub is quite good. It’s sharp and clear and even though it’s on the smaller side, it’s easy to watch things like cooking videos or music videos. I probably wouldn’t want to watch a movie or a TV show on it, but I guess you could.

What videos can I watch on  Google Home Hub?

If you can find it on YouTube, you can watch it on the Hub.  Other channels (like Amazon Prime) and programming isn’t supported.

Is there a web browser?

There’s technically no built in web browser, but because the Google assistant can deliver the answers to a legion of questions you might ask, you probably don’t need one.

Make phone calls with Google Nest Hub

google, nest, hub, screen, assistant, smart home, remove, voice, control, speaker, tv, video, review, how to You can ask Nest Hub to call anyone in your contacts. You can also search for local businesses and have Hub call them too

Google Nest Hub: Speaker quality & sound

Since sound and voice are such  a big component of these devices, it’s only right that they sound great. Google has been doing quite well on the audio quality front (Read my review of the Google Home and Google Home Max speakers here) and this **** doesn’t change with the Hub. Overall it sounds good, though sitting side by side with the Home Max, it is noticeably smaller sounding. On its own merits, however, the Home Hub sounds good; certainly as good as the regular Google Home device or Amazon’s Echo device. If I did notice anything, I’d say it leans a bit toward the high end when it comes to sound quality. I listened to jazz and it sounded nice, but when I put on more bass-heavy music, say something like Dre’s Next Episode, it was still pretty thin on the bass. Even so the speaker gets pretty loud, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble hearing it. (Trying to add bass to your digital assistant speaker? Check out my review of Amazon’s Sub here)

Style & Looks: Google Nest Hub

Google is winning when it comes to design. I’ve generally found all its devices to be chic, modern and sexy looking; real showpieces in your home that don’t scream “I’m a techy device”. The Home Hub is no different.  With a super compact, sor of floating screen design, it doesn’t take up as much real estate, as, say the Amazon Echo Show, and it isn’t as stout as, say Apple’s Home Pod.

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The Google home hub automatically gives you control over most of your smart home devices. If you have smart lighting, like Phillips Hue, a Google Chromecast TV, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth speakers, a Nest thermostat or numerous other devices, you can get control over them using your home hub. Conveniently, you can also use your Hub to call up various camera feeds or doorbell feeds so that you can see who’s on your property. Sadly, while Nest’s video doorbell is supported, it doesn’t appear that Ring video doorbells are. Perhaps surprising to some, the Google Nest Hub doesn’t have a camera embedded in it like Amazon Echo Show. While a camera would in theory allow you to make two-way video calls, or snap photos, I’m not convinced this is actually a highly used feature on this kind of device. The last thing I want to do is be tethered to a screen that’s plugged into the wall while having a video conversation. If I want to do that, I’ll use my Apple iPhone and try FaceTime or use another platform, like Google Duo on my phone.

What can Google Assistant do?

If you’re new to the whole smart digital assistant thing, you might be wondering what they can really do for you. There’s an ever growing list of what the Google Assistant can do, and all you have to do is say, “OK, Google…” Do information searches and answer questions like you might otherwise type into google Watch or listen to media like radio, YouTube, news briefs etc. Get news, weather, sports, business, traffic info on screen Set timers, alarms Translate Do math & conversions Control your home;  thermostats, lights Google Home is your own private DJ, too. Ask it to play you some music and it will automatically put something on thanks to Google Play Music. You can also ask for tings like soothing ocean sounds as well as rainforest noise and the Assistant will deliver. I’ve found myself talking to my Google devices constantly. It’s just so much easier to call out instructions for it to set a timer, than to fuss with my phone.
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Comparing Amazon’s Echo Show to Hub

Getting quick answers from the Hub about things like measurement or recipe conversions, a quick check of the weather or other instant information was super handy. I was also surprised and impressed by how often the device was able to help me. I know sometimes with Siri you’ll simply get a, “sorry I did not understand your request” response. I would say 99% of my requests to the Google Home device were answered and resolved.

Overall review of Google Nest Hub

Overall I really like the design and size of the Google nest home hub. It’s sleek and compact, and it is pretty convenient to have that screen displaying the time, or photos, or to glance up at the weather. The screen itself is truly adaptive and looks nice in the room. Plus, with the smarts of the Google Assistant, you can ask it almost anything and control almost any smart home device. Overall if you want to get yourself a smart digital assistant with a screen, the Google Nest Hub would be a great choice. Google Nest Hub sells for about $169CAD from the Google Store.

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