Review: Google Nest Hub – More than a digital photo frame?

4.6/5 - (59 votes)

The Google Nest Hub is a smart speaker with Google Assistant and a 7-inch display and has been available in our country since May 28. Does the display actually offer added value? Or is it nothing more than a digital photo frame? Read it in our review.

Last year, Google announced the Google Home Hub. A smart speaker such as the Google Home and the Google Home Mini , but including a display with touchscreen. The display gives the user additional options to communicate with the Google Assistant. At the beginning of May of this year , Google announced that we can also expect this smart display in the Netherlands with support for the Dutch Google Assistant. Since May 28, the device is actually available in our country for a price of 129 euros. In addition, the device has been renamed the Google Nest Hub.

What is the Google Nest Hub?

The Google Nest Hub is basically a smart speaker, but with a 7-inch tablet on top. However, it works exactly the same as your current smart speaker. You can ask questions in Dutch (or another language) and Google Assistant will answer you through the speaker on the device. This time you will not only hear the answer, but you can also see it immediately via the display. Ask for the weather forecast and you will not only receive an answer via the loudspeaker, but also immediately see the weather forecast on the display. Are you almost leaving for work and are you asking about the traffic situation? You immediately see the bottlenecks in traffic on your screen. Curious about your appointments for the day? Via Google Calendar you immediately see your agenda in the picture. In addition, you can operate your smart home via the touchscreen, you can have photos displayed via Google Photos, watch videos via YouTube or listen to music via Spotify or your favorite radio station.

Design of the Google Nest Hub

The Google Nest Hub consists of an oval speaker with a 7-inch tablet on top of it that lies upright on the speaker. The speaker itself is provided with a nice fabric, while the 7-inch display also works fine. The resolution is quite low, but you can’t tell. The build quality is very solid and the Google Nest Hub will not look out of place in your furniture at all. You can choose from a white or a black variant. The bottom is provided with rubber, so that the smart display can stand firmly on a cupboard or table. The Google Nest Hub has physical buttons. At the back right we find the volume buttons and at the top of the back the physical privacy switch. This allows you to temporarily disable the Google Assistant. At the top front we find the Ambient EQ sensor and two far-field microphones. The Ambient EQ sensor ensures that the display cannot blind you. Is it dark in the house? The sensor dims the screen, so that it is less bright on your eyes. This also applies the other way round. In bright light, this sensor will also brighten the display for better viewing.

Installing the Google Nest Hub

The installation is as you are used to from a smart speaker. Plug in the power cord and the Google Nest Hub will turn on. The smart display will be recognized immediately via the Google Home app and you can add it to a room in your house. If you have multiple speakers in the house, you can also make the Google Nest Hub part of a speaker group. Any updates are automatically downloaded and installed. Is everything ready? Then you will see a video on the display of the Hub in which the functions are explained. Be warned though. because in the video ‘Hey Google’ sounds several times, so that all your other smart speakers with Google Assistant also start talking.

Once everything is ready, you can adjust the home screen to your liking. If you do not use the Google Nest Hub, you can have it show your own photos via Google Photos, choose beautiful wallpapers from Google itself or you can choose to have a digital clock on the screen. The latter option ensures that you can also use this smart display very well on your bedside table. The Ambient EQ sensor automatically dims the screen, so you won’t be bothered by it in your dark bedroom.

Touchscreen, voice control and Google Home app

On the home screen, you can simply swipe from right to left to scroll through the menus. Do you want to go back one page or go all the way back to the home screen? Then swipe from left to right. You can operate your smarthome by swiping from top to bottom. Do you want to adjust things? Then you can do this via the Google Home app on your smartphone.

Mainly, of course, it is all about controlling the Google Nest Hub with your voice. And if you ask a question, you will see it immediately appear at the top of the screen. Smart speakers with Google Assistant are sometimes quite hard of hearing, or do not understand your question, so now you can immediately see where things went wrong. Depending on your question, you will also immediately see the answer visually. This way you can see the weather forecast or, for example, traffic jams on the way to work via your morning routine immediately appear on the screen. Are you listening to the radio? You immediately see which radio station, radio program and which radio DJ you are hearing. Also with Spotify you immediately see the artist, the album, the song and the album cover. With YouTube, the possibilities are slightly greater and you can also physically scroll through recommended videos. However, you don’t have the YouTube interface that you know from your PC, smartphone or tablet. So you will have to use a combination of voice control and the touchscreen to find and play the right videos, because the possibilities here are more limited than you are used to.

The touchscreen also allows you to use the display to physically operate your smart home. Via Home View, which is similar to the Google Home app, you can easily control all your connected smart home devices. For example, you can switch on the lighting, turn the thermostat a degree warmer or you can watch live with your Nest security cameras. Do you have a Nest Hello and someone calls? You can immediately see who is at the door on the screen of the Google Nest Hub. Other brands of security cameras are also supported. Please see the list of supported security cameras for this .

Better sound than the Google Home Mini

Of course, it’s not just about the visual aspect, because the Google Nest Hub is also just a smart speaker. What about the quality of the sound? Actually as you would expect. The speaker is larger than the Google Home Mini and smaller than the regular Google Home. In terms of sound quality, it is therefore in between the two smart speakers. It’s less flat than the Google Home Mini, but lacks the bass and fuller sound of the Google Home. Fortunately, you can still set a few things to the sound via the equalizer settings in the Google Home app. Tip: Raise the bass a bit. The speaker in this smart display will therefore suffice as background music. For serious music listening it is better to use another speaker, the sound is not good enough for that,Review: Google Nest Hub

Google Nest Hub – in use

It’s important to realize that the Google Nest Hub isn’t packed with new features. It is in fact a smart speaker like the Google Home and the Google Home Mini, but not only with sound, but also with images. Therefore, don’t see it as a replacement for your tablet or a device to watch all kinds of content. You can watch YouTube videos and, for example, operate your playlist on Spotify, but watching a series on Netflix on the display or surfing the internet is not an option. Support for Netflix may come to this smart display in the near future .

Do you hardly use your current Google Home or Google Home Mini? Then you certainly do not have to purchase the Google Nest Hub. Are you working with your smart speakers on a daily basis, do you control your smart home with it and do you get everything out of the current Google Home and Google Home Mini ? Then you will certainly enjoy the Google Nest Hub. Especially in the kitchen, the device has great added value, because you can, for example, view recipes or cook live with your favorite YouTubers.

If you ask a knowledge question via the Google Nest Hub, you will not only hear the answer, but also see it immediately. This works surprisingly well and gives an extra dimension to the interaction with the smart assistant. Want to know who Chewbacca from Star Wars is again? You will hear the answer directly via audio, while you also get a photo on the display with some extra information about this character. Information about history, people, buildings and many other things are also shown directly on the display with an image, which is definitely an added value.

Features we miss

Immediately at the announcement of the Hub in the United States last year, I was disappointed that there is no camera on it. For example, you can make video calls via the camera, for which the device is ideally suited. You could also use the Google Nest Hub as a security camera. However, these two features are on the way, but not on this device, but on the larger Nest Hub Max. We are always a year behind in the Netherlands, but in the United States this successor has already been presented with a larger screen and a camera on board. That makes the Nest Hub Max the device that the Google Nest Hub should have been. Do you have no interest in a camera at all, because you may be worried about whether people in the house are watching with you? Then you will be glad that this function is missing on the Google Nest Hub.

That you can’t put apps and the like on the Google Nest Hub is fine, it is not intended for that either. It is a pity that there is no browser on board. You cannot cast Netflix to the Google Nest Hub, while YouTube and Spotify, for example, do work. You should not see the Google Nest Hub as a small mini computer, but purely as a smart speaker that happens to be able to provide some extra information via the display.