The Google Nest Hub is one of the best home automation systems (opens in new tab) that's primarily a touchscreen tablet with a built-in speaker. But with the backing of the voice-controlled Google Assistant, this becomes an even more powerful home hub.
Google has a large and growing number of hardware partners but, crucially, also works with plenty of third-party devices that allow for Assistant control. That means a lot of WiFi devices will come with compatibility as standard.
As a result, Google Nest Hub is a great way to control the smart home and beyond. That can mean lights, video doorbells (opens in new tab), music, and more. This does lack the camera for two-way chat which its larger Google Nest Hub Max sibling offers, but this model is also more affordable and compact.
Google Nest Hub: Design and build
The Google Nest Hub is comprised of a seven inch LCD touchscreen tablet attached to a full range speaker base. This looks minimal but is made to sit on a table rather than to be wall mounted.
The device connects to the smart home using WiFi 802.11ac and can connect directly to devices using Bluetooth 5.0. Chromecast is also built-in, allowing you to fling music from a device, like a smartphone, directly to the speaker.
On the top edge of the tablet is a dual microphone array capable of far-field voice recognition, making it well suited for voice controls via the built-in Google Assistant.
The display features an ambient light sensor that allows the screen to adjust to the brightness of the room as it changes through day and night.
The Google Nest Hub comes in a selection of color options that include Sand, Aqua, Chalk, and Charcoal. The speaker section is covered in a premium looking fabric finish. The idea being that the right option for you should fit into your home's decor.
Google Nest Hub: Features and performance
One of the big appeals for the Google Nest Hub is that it allows you to watch YouTube videos right there on the display, via a voice search. This feature is not available on the competing Amazon Echo Show, at time of publishing.
For smart home controls, this is excellent, not only with visual touch options but with voice commands too. Many WiFi devices simply need to be setup on the same WiFi network and they will automatically be available as controllable via Google Assistant. Some require you to use the Google Home app to set them up but this is usually a very simple process.
Swipe down on the display and you're met by a smart home control screen. This has all your connected home devices displayed at a glance. So from lighting and heating to audio and security, it's all laid out conveniently and you can also select an option to see it all sectioned by rooms.
The Hub is a great way to make calls from a connected smartphone. It will find numbers from your contacts allowing you to voice dial and chat while you move about the room. You can video chat using Google Duo, but they won't be able to see you since this model doesn't feature a camera.
This one-way camera function works well as a video doorbell announcer. You're able to see who is at the door and even use the two-way talk feature, if available. Got a compatible smart lock? You can even unlock the door too.
Controlling the smart home heating is also a useful feature here, via voice or touch controls, it allows you instant comfort from this central control point.
Routines is a really useful feature as it allows you to tie-up actions based on a single voice command. For example you could say: "Ok Google, goodnight", and it would turn down the lights and heating, lock the doors and even turn on your heated sheet ready for bed. Presuming you have all those things smart connected, of course.
Since Google Assistant works with a lot of smart plugs, this makes it possible to smartcontrol nearly anything that plugs into mains power – to turn on or off at least.
We like the ability to use the Google Nest Hub as a smart photo frame. With that smart ambient light adjustment it does a really good job of displaying pictures, right off your phone, beautifully.
Should you buy the Google Nest Hub?
If you want an attractive yet affordable home hub that plays nice with lots of different WiFi devices and offers voice controls, then the Google Nest Hub is for you.
If you also want the ability to have two-way video chats then you may want to go for the larger Google Nest Hub Max which also features a camera.