Smart devices are quickly becoming popular within our society, with many people utilising gadgets like smartwatches and smart speakers in their daily routine. Smart displays are something more of an emerging trend, but Google is keen to make it part of the norm in the household with their Google Nest Hub.
If you are not familiar with smart displays, it is an all-in-one control panel for your home. If your home is fully kitted with smart devices, you can essentially control your entire house with this individual device — from your speakers to even your lights.
For something that has that much utility, the Google Nest Hub is really tiny. The device only measures 118 mm tall from its base and is 178.5 mm long, which means you’ll have little problem finding an area to fit this device.
The screen itself is a 7-inch touchscreen display, and surrounding it are bezels that contain two far-field microphones and an ambient EQ/light sensor for automatically adjusting screen brightness.
What this gets you is a device that looks almost identical to a digital photo frame and will fit into the smart home aesthetic seamlessly.
Using the Google Nest Hub is akin to using a tablet — using swipes to navigate around its interface. As a display, the screen does its job reasonably well; colours and clarity are of decent quality on photos, and I never had to adjust brightness.
With that being said, a larger display wouldn’t go amiss, especially if you have plans to use it as a media player. It does a good enough job, but watching videos would be infinitely better on a larger screen. You might want to consider paying a little extra for the Nest Hub Max is that is the case.
But the Nest Hub isn’t just a display; it functions as a speaker too. Besides providing the audio for videos, the speaker is used for Google Assistant voice responses and music as well, of which you can connect your Spotify account to listen to tunes.
Like the display, the speaker is mostly serviceable for watching videos or listening to podcasts. The sound level can get noticeably loud even at just half volume and is generally clear enough for listening to spoken conversations.
As a dedicated speaker for your music though, you’d find much better alternatives elsewhere. Music with a lot of bass lacks the punch it should have, and audio can get a little thin for higher registers. Thankfully, the Nest Hub lets you connect to additional Bluetooth speakers so you can use a better quality speaker as your main one, with the Nest Hub utilised as a supplemental speaker.
Where the device shines, though, is as a control for your smart home. Once you’ve done the necessary set up on the Google Home app, everything can be run through the Nest Hub. The convenience is something that you’d only thought possible in science fiction movies. You can turn on lights with just your voice, send messages to specific rooms and also view footage from connected security cameras, though they are behind a couple of minutes.
Besides controlling your home, you can also get the Nest Hub to do other smart features like informing you on the weather conditions, sports scores, scheduled appointments or the latest news. Other neat features include being your personal cookbook; providing detailed instructions through third-party sites.
All this is made possible through Google Assistant, and if you’ve been entrenched in the Google ecosystem, you should not have a problem adapting to it. One small issue is the consistency of its listening capabilities. For the most part, it can pick out what you are saying fairly well. But every now and then, you’d get a misinterpreted word, causing you to repeat it. It’s more an issue of Assistant itself rather than the device, but it indeed persists here as well.
As a smart device, the Google Nest Hub does a lot of things well enough — as a display for your precious family photos or as a speaker for casual listening. But its full potential is unleashed if you have a smart-enabled home, providing unparalleled convenience in controlling your home. Regardless, the device isn’t something you’d regret putting in your home.
Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team.