Google's smart display is still the best – CNET

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Editor's note, July 4, 2019: Despite the tough new competition from Amazon, the Google Nest Hub remains our preferred smart display. For this reason, we have given him an editorial selection. Note: The Nest Hub was previously referred to as the Google Home Hub before a brand change this spring. The review, originally published on June 12, follows.


The Google Nest Hub is small, but surprisingly useful in many ways: it organizes your smart home, guides you through a complex recipe, and finds a place to eat when your cooking efforts are not enough.

The small gadget is made powerful by the big Google Assistant, and the line between the actual hardware of the Google Nest Hub and the place where the digital Google Assistant does all the heavy lifting is blurred. This distinction may be irrelevant to your purchase decision. The hub is a $ 129 (£ 119, AU $ 199) intelligent display that combines the functionality of a voice-controlled smart speaker like the original Google Home With a touchscreen, you can view pictures, watch videos, search recipes, control your smart home and much more.

Continue reading: The best smart displays of 2019

If you're a Google fan and want a Google-oriented smart home, or you just like the idea of ​​a smart speaker with a screen and want to try one to display photos at home or step by step. Step recipe instructions, I recommend the Google Nest Hub. Thanks to the seamless touch control and intuitive voice control, even technically savvy family members can get used to it.

The distinction between hardware and software becomes much more important when you can spend a little more and are ready to consider third-party smart displays in addition to Google's smart displays. Google is working on a new, larger smart display, the so-called Nest stroke max The camera has a 10-inch screen and a built-in nest camera with unique functions such as gesture control. Both Lenovo and JBL have recommended 10-inch smart displays with integrated Google Assistant and most of the functions of the Nest Hub.

Continue reading: The best Google Assistant and Google Home devices of 2019

Unlike most other smart displays, the Nest Hub doesn't have a camera, which may be negative for some, but it isn't for home users. Otherwise, it offers the same features as the other smart displays at a reasonable price and it is often on sale for even less, The Google Nest Hub is a cute, useful gadget with great value for money.

Good things in small packages

The Google Nest Hub is tiny. It looks like Google stuck a thin 7-inch tablet onto a tablet Google Home Mini, It's simple – a screen and a stand covered with fabric.

It has two forward-facing microphones on a bezel that surrounds the 7-inch screen. The middle point between the microphones is an ambient light sensor, not a camera. There is a switch on the back of the Nest Hub that mutes the microphone and volume control buttons. If you want to do something else with the Nest Hub, you'll need to use its touchscreen or give it a voice command.

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This is an ambient light sensor, not a camera.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Four colors are available for the fabric – chalk, charcoal, aqua and sand. We tested the chalk model, but all four colors are otherwise the same and cost $ 129. You can buy the Google Nest Hub from Best Buy, Walmart, Target and other electronics retailers, as well as online through the Google Store. (See here for the UK and Australia.)

Google offers a six-month trial version of YouTube Premium with the purchase of a Nest Hub. The service costs USD 12 (GBP 12, AU $ 15) per month after the trial ends and allows you to listen to YouTube's music library without ads. Before buying, note that the symbol Nest Hub is often offered for $ 100 or less,

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The four color options for the Google Nest Hub.

James Martin / CNET

An entertainment center

You don't need a subscription to watch normal YouTube videos on the Nest Hub. You can search for them by voice and scroll through the options using your voice or touch. YouTube offers the Google Nest Hub an advantage over the Amazon Echo Show. Google pulled the rights to the streaming site from the dispute over Amazon's competing smart display last year, You can watch YouTube on the Echo Show, but only through a browser that doesn't respond to voice commands.

Videos also look surprisingly sharp on the small 7-inch screen. If you subscribe to YouTube’s live TV service – YouTube TV – You can also watch TV live on the hub. It certainly won't replace your main TV, but the picture looks good, so this feature can be useful if you want to watch the morning news while you prepare breakfast.

Otherwise, you can watch streaming videos through services such as HBO now and CNET's sister site CBS All Access on the hub itself. You can't see Netflix As with all Google smart speakers, you can also send a voice command to the hub to start streaming Netflix on any TV with one Chromecast built-in streamer or Chromecast.

You also have many options for listening to music on the hub. Except for YouTube music, you can sync your Google Play Music account. Pandora and Spotify, You can also set one of these services as the default. Google Assistant searches there first when you ask it to play a track.

Once you start playing music, you can use the Google Home app to adjust the speaker equalizer settings if you want more bass or treble. You can also add speaker groups to the Nest Hub using other Google Assistant smart speakers, or speakers connected to a Chromecast audio streamer, If you don't like the sound quality of the Nest Hub, you can set another speaker as the default. This will then automatically start playing music on this device instead of through its own speakers.

Smaller hardware, smaller sound

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From left to right, the Lenovo Smart Display, Google Nest Hub and JBL Link View.

Chris Monroe / CNET

You may not like the sound quality of the Nest Hub if you are an audiophile. It's okay if you want to hear background music, but it's not particularly loud or crisp. Unfortunately, the sound quality is not in the same league as other smart displays like that Amazon Echo Show or the JBL Link View, In fact, the sound quality more closely corresponds to Google's smallest smart speaker – the Google Home Mini, which even slightly exceeded the Nest Hub in our tests.

Fortunately, the Hub's microphones held their ground better. The Nest Hub understood my voice commands from the large, large room of the CNET Smart Home. It even heard me from an adjacent room as long as I kept the door open. There was also good background noise while I was in the same room. Expect to have to speak loudly when playing loud music, but that's standard for any smart speaker. The second-generation Amazon Echo Show heard me more often from a distance, but the hub's microphones are on par with those of Lenovo and JBL smart displays.

Smart display comparison

Google Nest Hub

Amazon Echo Show (2018)

Facebook portal, Portal Plus

Lenovo Smart Display 10 inch, 8 inch

JBL Link View

US price

$ 130

$ 230

$ 200; $ 350

$ 250; $ 200

$ 250

screen size

177.8 mm

256.5 mm

256.5 mm (10.1 inches) / 396.2 mm (15.6 inches)

256.5 mm (10.1 inches) / 203.2 mm (8 inches)

203.2 mm

resolution

1024 x 600

720p (1,280 x 800)

720p (1,200 x 800); 1080p (1,920 x 1,080)

1080p (1,920 x 1,200); 720p (1,280 x 800)

720p (1,280 x 800)

Dimensions (WxHxD)

179 x 118 x 67 mm (7.02 x 4.65 x 2.65 inches)

246 x 175 x 107 mm (9.7 x 6.9 x 4.2 inches)

250 x 208 x 94 mm (9.8 x 8.2 x 3.7 inches); 224 x 450 x 145 mm (8.8 x 17.7 x 5.7 inches)

6.8 x 12.3 x 0.5-5.4 inches (173.87 x 311.37 x 13-136 mm); 142 x 263 x 13 – 111 mm (5.6 x 10.4 x 0.5 – 4.4 inches)

332 x 152 x 100 mm (13 x 6 x 3.9 inches)

Weight

1.1 pounds (480 grams)

3.76 kg

2.7 pounds (1.25 kg); 3.36 kg

2.6 pounds (1.2 kg); 2.2 pounds (1 kg)

2.9 pounds (1.3 kg) net weight

Wireless connection

Wi-Fi (802.11b / g / n / ac, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), Bluetooth 5.0

Wi-Fi (802.11b / g / n / ac, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), Bluetooth speakers that require PIN codes are not supported

Wi-Fi (802.11a / b / g / n / ac, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2

Wi-Fi (802.11ac, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), Bluetooth

Wi-Fi (802.11b / g / n / ac, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2

language assistant

Google Assistant

Alexa

Alexa

Google Assistant

Google Assistant

Call (from the United States) and messaging

Direct dial (US, UK and Canada, outgoing calls only), video calls with Google Duo

Alexa messaging, Skype, direct dial (US and Mexico)

Facebook Messenger

Direct dial (US, UK and Canada, outgoing calls only), video calls with Google Duo

Direct dial (US, UK and Canada, outgoing calls only), video calls with Google Duo

Intelligent kitchen functions

Step-by-step help on recipes with YouTube educational videos

Step-by-step instructions for the recipe; Integration of Amazon Meal Kits

Limited support for Alexa recipes

Step-by-step instructions for recipes with YouTube educational videos

Step-by-step help on recipes with YouTube educational videos

Screen control for smart homes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Built-in camera

No

Yes (5 megapixels)

Yes (12 megapixels)

Yes (5 megapixels)

Yes (5 megapixels)

Privacy shutter

n / A

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Microphones

2-microphone array

4-Mic-array

4 microphone array (2 front, 2 rear)

4 microphone array (2 front, 2 rear)

2-microphone array

speaker

Full range speaker (80 dB sound pressure at 1 kHz and 1 m)

Two 10 W neodymium 2 inch drivers with Dolby processing and passive bass radiator

10 W (2 full range drivers); 20 W (2 tweeters, single 4-inch bass)

0.75 10 W full range speaker, 2x passive tweeters

2x 10 W speakers with 2-inch full-range drivers (51 mm)

Streaming music services

iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music

Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn

iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify

iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music

iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music

Streaming video services

YouTube, YouTube TV, films from Google Play, CBS All Access, HBO Now

Amazon Prime Video, DailyMotion, Hulu, NBC, Vimeo

Facebook watch, food network

YouTube, YouTube TV, films from Google Play, CBS All Access, HBO Now

YouTube, YouTube TV, films from Google Play, CBS All Access, HBO Now

Compatible smart home cameras

D-Link, EZVIZ, Nest camera, Netgear Arlo, Skybell video doorbell, Smartcam, Swann, TP-Link Kasa camera, Vivitar

Amazon Cloud Camera, Amcrest, August Doorbell Camera, Blink, Canary, D-Link, EZVIZ, Logitech Circle, meShare, Nest Camera, Netgear Arlo, Doorbell Video Doorbell, Toucan, TP-Link Kasa Camera, Wyze -Camera, Zmodo

none

D-Link, EZVIZ, Nest camera, Netgear Arlo, Skybell video doorbell, Smartcam, Swann, TP-Link Kasa camera, Vivitar

D-Link, EZVIZ, Nest camera, Netgear Arlo, Skybell video doorbell, Smartcam, Swann, TP-Link Kasa camera, Vivitar

Other notable features

Ambient EQ automatic adaptive screen brightness; Digital photo frame via Google Photos with live albums; Live TV with YouTube TV; Digital comfort mode for parental restrictions and downtime

Built-in ZigBee Smart Home Hub; Integrates with Fire TV Recast to show live TV and DVR recordings; YouTube access via Silk or Firefox browser

Automatic AI camera setting; Video chat filter effects; Location from home and on the go; Facebook photo albums and birthday reminders; Interactive storybooks; 90 degree rotating display (plus only)

Live TV with YouTube TV; Digital comfort mode for parental restrictions and downtime

Live TV with YouTube TV; Digital comfort mode for parental restrictions and downtime

color options

Charcoal, aqua, chalk, sand

Charcoal, sandstone

Black-and-white

Bamboo, gray

black

Availability

USA, UK, Australia and 12 others

USA, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Canada, Japan

USA only, UK launch in fall

Only we

Only we

Expected shipping date

Now available

Now available

Now available

Now available

Now available

warranty

1 year

1 year

1 year

1 year

1 year

A versatile personal assistant

You can send a variety of voice commands to the Google Nest Hub. Connect it and set it up in your WiFi using the Google Home app. Thanks to the integrated Google Assistant, you can then ask Google Nest Hub any questions you would ask the original Google Home.

As we saw on Lenovo Smart Display In the JBL Link view, Google Assistant uses the touchscreen with helpful graphics after you have asked a question. Check the weather and see pictures of the forecast for the week. Look for local restaurants and you will see pictures of nearby places.

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You can use the Google Nest Hub to find a place to eat.

Chris Monroe / CNET

You can then scroll through the options and tap one for more information. Google even shows you how to get there on a map and sends directions to your phone. This works automatically if you have an Android phone and it also works on Apple iPhones if you have the Google Assistant app installed.

You can also call the Nest Hub. Since Google Assistant recognizes your individual voice, it can search for and dial numbers from your phone's contact list. The recipient will even see that you are calling. You can also make video calls with the hub, but use is limited Google Duo – Google's mobile app for video chatting. Because the Nest Hub has no camera, you can see the receiver, but it cannot see you.

You can swipe right across the screen at any time to go back one page, or swipe up to make quick adjustments such as volume and brightness. You can't download apps or surf the web like you would on a regular tablet. However, the entire content of Google Nest Hub should be visible from anywhere in the room.

Other helpful features include routines, which are customizable, grouped commands that let you play videos or podcasts, get directions, and turn on the connected lights with a simple command like "Good Morning". If you control your smart home with a voice command, your device will appear on the screen. When you change the temperature of your thermostat, buttons and sliders appear that allow you to further adjust the temperature or change the mode.

All of these features are the same for all smart displays equipped with Google Assistant, and my favorite feature of Lenovo Smart Display and JBL Link View has found its way to the Google Nest Hub. Find a recipe by voice or find one on your phone and send it to your display. The Google Assistant reads the ingredients and instructions out loud and you can see them on the screen.