he Google Nest Hub is Google's take on the Amazon Echo Show. Announced late last year as the Google Home Hub, the device got a rebranding back in May and is now known as the Google Nest Hub. The Nest Hub is being launched in India today and we got one in our hands to try out before it goes on sale.
Google Nest Hub review
Google markets the Nest Hub as a digital photo frame and while it can do that, the Nest Hub is so much more. As the previous comparison with the Echo Show would suggest, the Nest Hub is a fully featured smart home device that features a voice assistant as well as the ability to control all the other smart home devices in your house.
But before we get into that, let's talk about the design. The Nest Hub has a very contemporary look that will look great anywhere it's placed. It has a floating display design, where the angled 7-inch touchscreen sits atop the base, which remains partially hidden. The display has two far-field microphones above it along with an ambient light sensor.
Front • Back
On the back, the Nest Hub has a sliding switch to disable the microphone as well as volume buttons, both of which are easy to operate without looking, although the volume buttons do feel flimsy and loose as they creaked and moved about whenever they were operated. Using the microphone switch is followed by an audio warning that the mic has been turned off or on and an orange LED lights up on the front to inform you whenever it is off.
The base has a fabric covering the entire surface, which hides a single full-range driver underneath. There's also a connector for power. Unlike the Amazon Echo devices, the Nest Hub does not have an audio jack for connecting to speakers.
Google Nest Hub review
The display on the Nest Hub is the main feature here. The 7-inch panel has a resolution of 1024x600, which is plenty for a device that will always be over an arm's length away. The display actually looks fantastic, with sharp text and detailed images.
The display also has a trick up its sleeve. Using the ambient light sensor on top, the Nest Hub can adjust both the brightness and the color temperature of the display. It does this so no matter which room or lighting the device is in, the photos always look like they are printed on paper. In a dark room, the display can dim and can also be set to turn off entirely.
The display is a touchscreen and can be used to navigate through the menus or search results. One minor annoyance, which most people will never notice, is that the display is mounted sideways so it refreshes from right to left, which creates a slight jello-effect when you scroll vertically. Again, this is something most people will never notice.
Compared to the recently launched Amazon Echo Show 5, the display on the Nest Hub is far superior. Not only is it larger, which makes it more usable from a distance but it's also sharper and generally better quality.
Moving on to the software, the Nest Hub has a rather barebones interface. That's because unlike Amazon, Google chooses to let the user adjust most of the features of the Nest Hub through the Google Home app rather than from the device itself.
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Nest Hub UI
On the device itself, you can do some things, such as check on all of your connected smart home devices by swiping down from the top of the display. You can swipe up to access basic controls, such as brightness, volume, do not disturb, alarms and settings, which isn't really settings at all as it doesn't let you change anything but just shows you information like the connected Wi-Fi, the device name, the software version it's running and the IP address.
Lastly, from the homescreen, you can also swipe from the right edge to access the content that may be currently playing and some widgets by apps like Spotify, YouTube or more that you may have used in the past. You can also swipe from the left edge from any screen to go back and keep swiping to go home.
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Google Home app
The homescreen can either be photos from your Google Photos library, a selection of curated photos from Google, a clock face or photos from your Facebook and/or Flickr account. The first option turns the device into a digital photo frame as it can show either one image or cycle through an album and show all of them. The same is true for the Facebook/Flickr option as well.
The Art gallery option finds curated images from Getty images, Google Earth, NASA and more sources and cycles through them on your homescreen and you can choose the source. Lastly, the clock option shows one of the eight preset clock faces all the time. There's actually only four clock faces with a light theme and the other four are the same with a dark theme. The clock faces are nice but four is a bit too few. In comparison, Amazon offers dozens of options for clock faces on the Echo Show and Echo Spot devices.