Back in March I wrote an article about smart home devices, and called the Google Home Mini “the most important part of your smart home setup.”
Fast forward to a few months later, and I continue to stand by that statement — from turning on the lights in my room to telling jokes (“Why did the school kids eat their homework? Because their teacher told them it was a piece of cake”), the Google Home remains my most-used smart home device by a large margin.
And as is the case with most tech products a new and improved version is released every year, the American tech giant has definitely taken things to another level with the new Google Nest Hub.
New Year, (Very) New Look
Functionally speaking, the Google Nest Hub isn’t too different from its predecessors — equipped with the ever-reliabe Google Assistant, you can use your voice to issue a variety of commands such as setting alarms and playing music.
The game-changer here is that the Nest Hub now rocks a 7-inch touchscreen as well, which opens up a wealth of new possibilities that wasn’t viable with previous iterations.
For starters, information is now presented visually, so if you aren’t in the mood to talk to an inanimate object you can now check things like the weather and your schedule by swiping the screen.
Talking to your Google Assistant isn’t always convenient (especially in the office, where I primarily tested the Nest Hub), so having a non-verbal alternative is a welcome addition.
More Functionality Than Ever
And what good would a screen be if it can’t play videos? Yup, the Google Nest Hub can stream content from YouTube, though due to the sheer number of videos out there I wasn’t always able to get what I wanted on the first try.
It’s pretty much trial and error right now, and hopefully the folks at Google find a way to make this more accurate.
Another feature that’s been heavily promoted is using the Nest Hub as a kitchen assistant.
With Google being…well, Google, it has access to literally millions of online recipes, and can even direct you with step-by-step instructions thanks to the new screen.
It’s as fool-proof as it gets, and whether you’re a complete beginner or master chef it gives you a good reason to put a Nest Hub in the kitchen.
If you own other smart home devices, the Nest Hub’s new Home View feature also makes managing them more intuitive than ever. Instead of adjusting them one by one with your voice, you can now access every device in a single, convenient location.
One last plus point of the screen is that when the Nest Hub isn’t in use, it doubles up as a digital photo frame. Previous Google Home’s were by no means ugly, but becoming a literal piece of furniture allows the Nest Hub to blend into pretty much any room more than its predecessors ever did.
Throughout my test drive of the Google Nest Hub, numerous people have asked me “isn’t this just a tablet?”
Well…kind of, and no. The Nest Hub does looks like a tablet (heck, it probably has less functionality than one) but the two devices serve completely different purposes. It’s like dissing the Amazon Kindle for only being able to read books.
More importantly, at S$189 it’s also a lot more affordable than the average tablet. It’s clear that Google wants you to have more than one or these around the house, and at that price point it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to do so.
Granted, that’s still a pretty significant price jump from the S$79 Google Home Mini, but it’s at this point where I should mention that upgrades have been made on the hardware side of things as well.
A larger form factor allows for larger speakers, which in turn result in better sound quality. There’s a noticeable improvement in both audio volume and quality, so you could see it as paying premium prices for a premium product.
In conclusion, the Google Nest Hub builds on the already-strong foundation laid out by its predecessors. You’ll get more mileage the more smart devices you have, but it definitely has enough features to function as a standalone product.
It’s rare to see a device that’s useful on such a ubiquitous level, but that’s exactly what the Google Nest Hub is. Anyone can benefit from having one (or more) of these in their home, and as far as smart homes go this is hands down the perfect place to start.