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Google Nest Hub review: 1: 0 for Amazon Alexa

Google Nest Hub test
Image: © 2020 TechnikNews
(Post picture: © 2020 © 2020 TechnikNews)

In the meantime, in addition to Alexa at Amazon, the Google Assistant has established itself in the Google ecosystem - this is, among other things, in the Google Nest Hub. This is an assistant with a screen, comparable to the Amazon Echo Show 5. How does the Google model fare? We'll clear it up in this review.

Since I myself have the Amazon Echo Show 5 tested, I was tempted to skip the Google Nest Hub as wellprobeer After all, it comes with the Google Assistant, as you already know it from smartphones. also saw the Product side pretty exciting, which suggested many great, smart features. Then why didn't the Google Nest Hub blow my mind? You can read that and more here.

In the packaging

As usual, let's take a look under the lid first. The device itself is delivered with the Google Nest Hub, of course, and there is also a power supply unit with a round wall plug. Why Google of all places - where almost everything already runs with USB-C - is using a different connection here, is a mystery to me. There are also a number of pieces of paper and quick start instructions.

Installation

Installation is quick and easy after setup via the Google Home app. However, it also means that a Google account is absolutely necessary - but shouldn't come as a big surprise. Simply download the Google Home app, click on the plus in the top left, "Set up device" and then click again on "Set up new devices in your home". Then the desired room is selected and off you go. The home app should mostly already be preinstalled on current Android smartphones.

Google Home
Google Home
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free of charge
Google Home
Google Home
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free of charge

On the back of the device, you will quickly become familiar with the buttons - there is a mute control at the top, and the volume rocker is located on the edge.

Google Nest Hub back

Image: © 2020 TechnikNews

The Google Nest Hub's strengths

Google Maps integration

One of the main features that the Google Nest Hub really impressed me with was the integration of Google Maps. If you have entered the address of your workplace in the assistant settings, you will immediately see the travel time on the display of the Nest Hub in the morning. Of course, this also works with public transport, where the departure of the next bus or train is displayed.

"Ok Google, navigate me to ..." also works great - shortly after the command, you get a full screen map from Google Maps on the 7 inch display. By the way: This has a resolution of 1.024 x 600 pixels and mirrors like many other displays with a touchscreen. However, the navigation with Google Maps sometimes did not work:

Google Nest Hub Google Maps

Image: © 2020 TechnikNews

The December update

The Google Nest Hub received an extensive update at the beginning of December and the end of November. Now the operation is finally more intuitive, you simply swipe from the right edge to the left in order to navigate between the individual "tabs". There you can find “Your Day”, “Smart Home Control”, “Media”, “Communicate” and “Discover”. Before that it was a mess with multiple cards that sometimes were there, sometimes not.

In addition, the Google Nest Hub switches through the tabs every now and then when you move. The smart screen has a built-in proximity sensor - so it shows the next appointments or the map for work or the weather in the morning when passing by.

Stream the smartphone or use it as a Google Cast

Google Nest Google Cast

Image: © 2020 TechnikNews

The Google Nest Hub also has a Google Cast, which allows you to mirror compatible devices on the display. May not be a killer feature, but still good to know. Playing music via Google Cast in Spotify also works proseamlessly and smoothly.

Adaptive display

When it gets darker in the room, the Google Nest Hub also adjusts the brightness. At first glance, that doesn't exactly sound exciting. Here, however, the smart display from Google scores with another function: the colors are also adapted. According to Google, it should be able to differentiate between 16 million light and color combinations and reflect them. So if the sun is shining or you have candlelight, the Google Nest Hub emits slightly warmer colors than during the day. It was done really well.

Smart home control

Smart home devices that have been set up in the Google Home app can be procontrol effortlessly. In my case, this also includes Philips Hue, whose control always went smoothly. With controllers you can then adjust the brightness individually, with colored lamps even the respective color temperature. Unfortunately, you don't get such a detailed color palette as displayed directly in the Philips Hue app.

More privacy

While Alexa also shares private things such as appointments with all users in the household, the Google Assistant does not. If you have learned his voice, he will link the current account with this voice - a stranger cannot browse my calendar or view my private photos. It is not without reason that you get a "Hello, [Name]" message when you start interacting with the Nest Hub.

The Google Nest Hub's weaknesses

The Google Assistant

In my opinion, the Google Assistant itself is that too Proproblem You won't notice it if you don't have Alexa offprohas been, but if so, the differences are incredibly big. The Google Assistant is worlds behind Alexa. Simple things like setting an alarm with a radio station from TuneIn, Alexa can do with "Alexa, set an alarm for 7 am with ... from TuneIn". On the other hand, with Google, this only works with routines that have to be set back in the app.

When the command “Ok Google, how will the weather be in the next few days”, the Google Assistant only reads the weather for the coming day. I actually didn't want that - if you ask Alexa, she'll talk about the weather for the next seven days. In my opinion, Alexa is simply more intuitive and useful to use than the Google Assistant.

In general, the Google Assistant does not seem to be optimized for the Google Nest Hub - there are always things that are not displayed properly or do not work on the smart display.

A lot in the app

Google Nest Hub Home app

Image: © 2020 TechnikNews

While Amazon is pursuing the approach of being able to solve many things without an app but directly on the device with the Echo Show, Google does it differently. You can't get around the settings without the Home app. Simple things like a background can only be set properly via the app, you can do that on Amazon proeasily on the device itself.

No watch without an internet connection

Google Nest Hub No internet connection

Without an internet connection there isn't even a clock display. (Image: © 2020 TechnikNews)

Sounds strange, but it really is. If the Google Nest Hub loses the connection to its own WLAN or if it has no internet connection, a message pops up over a large area. While Amazon displays a crossed-out cloud on the Echo Show and otherwise continues as usual, this is completely different with the Google Nest Hub. The message "Check the Internet connection" covers the entire screen and there is nothing else to see. That could have been solved in a really more elegant way - but it seems to have been a "feature" for a long time.

Even if that rarely happens, there are still things that are simply annoying and you have to deduct a point that the Assistant is completely lost without the Internet. Instead, the Nest Hub could continue to display an image that was last viewed.

Limited functionality

While you can expand the device with tens of thousands of skills with Alexa, as a user of a Google Assistant - or here with the hub - you look into the tube. There are only the available Google features, if you want more, you're out of luck. Here the point is clearly 1: 0 for Amazon's Alexa.

Speakers & music playback

Google Nest Hub Spotify

Image: © 2020 TechnikNews

I mentioned above that playing music through the Google Nest Hub works well. On the one hand via TuneIn with “Ok Google, play ... from TuneIn” or via Spotify, YouTube Music and other services. The functionality is therefore fully given, but the hardware in the form of decent speakers is not. Unfortunately, the sound sounds like it comes from a can, has too many highs and no bass at all. The mids aren't really balanced either. Although large speakers were actually built in here, savings were simply made in the wrong place.

Summary

What can I say - the Google Nest Hub didn't blow me away. Although it makes a good picture as a clock during my test at my desk and sometimes shows the weather, it doesn't really offer me much benefit. It is not suitable for listening to music, the speakers have no bass at all, and the highs are far too much. A major weak point is the Google Assistant itself, which simply cannot keep up with Amazon's Alexa by a long way. The integration of this just doesn't seem to have worked out very well - the assistant on the Nest Hub cannot play or control some things.

Google has solved the so-called "tabs" well, between which it is always switched when relevant. In the morning, the driving time is shown in the work, and upcoming appointments are shown on the display as you pass. The automatic color adjustment to the environment has been implemented well, and the privacy feature and the linking of the account to your own voice are world-class.

Google Nest Hub Weather

Image: © 2020 TechnikNews

In short: the Google Nest Hub and the Google Assistant do not seem mature. Sometimes things don't work, almost everything has to be controlled via the app and there are no expandable “skills” like Amazon. I would personally use the Amazon Echo Show, unless you can't make friends with Alexa at all. Then a Google Nest Mini would do the same, the display doesn't offer me so many advantages.

The price of the Google Nest Hub is currently around 70 euros, starting in early 2019 with an RRP of around 200 euros. If you are still looking for a display with the Google Assistant, that's it too Lenovo Smart Display recommended, which is a lot more fun, especially with the speakers.

Many thanks to Google for providing the test device.

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David Wurm

Do that TechnikNews-Ding together with a great team for several years. Works in the background on the server infrastructure and is also responsible for everything editorial. Is fascinated by current technology and likes to blog about everything digital. In his free time, he can often be found developing websites, taking photos or making radio.

David has already written 890 articles and left 372 comments.

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