The Google Nest Hub is a very humble looking device, especially when compared to some of the crazy smart displays offered by Amazon. But we still believe the Nest Hub is the best smart display available today. It has many flaws, but unlike the competition, it stays true to its purpose.
The lock screen: no ads or silly intrusions
We believe the lock screen is the most important part of a smart display. Yes, you can do all sorts of fancy things with an Echo Show or Nest Hub, but it’s going to spend most of its life sitting around doing nothing. A good lock screen ensures that a smart display is somewhat useful (or attractive) when you’re not actively shouting commands or tapping the entire screen.
Amazon doesn’t seem to understand this fact. The Echo Show lock screen is a bastion of annoying nonsense, including fun facts, tips and tricks, and random recipes. And as if things weren’t bad enough, Amazon recently introduced lock screen ads for the Echo Show — come on, nobody wants a billboard on their kitchen counter!
In comparison, the Google Nest Hub has an excellent lock screen. You can choose between an animated watch face, a fancy art slideshow, or a slideshow of images from your Google Photos account. In slideshow mode, any relevant notifications, family notes or reminders will appear in a small area on the screen alongside the time and weather. No silly ads or fun facts!
Additionally, the Nest Hub can pull slideshow mode from shared Google Photos albums. Your friends, family or roommates can upload photos to this shared album and they will automatically appear on the Nest Hub lock screen. (Echo Show products offer a similar feature, but you have to manually ask Alexa to turn on the slideshow, which ends after a few hours.)
Nest hub 7
The Nest Hub gives you instant access to the Google Assistant, smart home controls, streaming services and more. It’s an excellent addition to any home, even if you don’t have any smart devices.
Smart Home Control: A great solution for most homes
Like the Google Home app, the Nest Hub does a good job of bringing all your smart home controls together. Simply navigate to the Home Control tab to view a collection of relevant devices and routines, as well as live camera feeds. Or use a voice command to control your smart home devices.
Detailed controls appear when you select a smart home device from the Home Control menu. But these controls also appear when you use a voice command. For example, when you want to dim a smart lightbulb, detailed brightness and color controls are temporarily displayed on the screen.
The Echo Show’s on-screen smart home controls are actually quite nice — they’re big and easy to read, as is the Alexa app. But a lot of detailed controls, such as Settings such as the color of the smart lightbulb are not available on the Echo Show’s touchscreen. These controls have to be accessed through voice commands, a routine, or a mobile app, which kind of defeats the purpose of a touchscreen smart home controller.
And if you own a lot of smart home devices, the Echo Show’s smart control UI can get pretty crowded. You’re going to spend a lot of time scrolling through devices, provided you don’t sit down for a few hours and organize each device into groups, rooms, or routines.
To be fair, the average Echo Show or Nest Hub buyer isn’t a smart home fanatic. These devices do multiple jobs — they play music and stream videos, they get recipes and set timers, and you can even use them for video calls. But on the smart home front, Google’s Nest Hub is king.
Nest Hub Max 10-inch smart display with Google Assistant
The large Nest Hub Max offers a larger screen than the basic Nest Hub. It also has a larger, higher-quality speaker and even a built-in camera for video calls.
More details: streaming, recipes, timers and more
When it comes to everyday tasks, those are the Google Nest Hub and Amazon Echo Show most of time at eye level. Both devices can answer your questions, set sleep timers, retrieve recipes, convert measurements, tell you safe cooking temperatures for different types of meat, or stream your favorite video or music services. You can also make calls, visit other smart speakers or displays in your home, or stream video from compatible security cameras.
But there are a few areas where the Nest Hub stands out. For one, Nest Hub supports YouTube natively, while the Echo Show needs to open a browser to use YouTube – this makes for a slightly clunkier experience on the Echo Show, although it’s a minor inconvenience.
And unlike the Echo Show, which has a habit of hiding timers, the Nest Hub keeps timers on screen until they expire. Combine that with the Nest Hub’s hands-free gestures and it might be the better option for foodies who want a little help in the kitchen.
Now, the Echo Show certainly has a leg up in some areas. It integrates perfectly with Amazon products including Fire TV and various Amazon services. Also, all Echo Show models come with a built-in camera for video calls, or “drop-ins,” while Google customers will have to buy the pricier Nest Hub Max if they want a camera in their smart display.
We also love that the Echo Show is coming so many shapes and sizes. The smallest Echo Show displays are incredibly affordable, while the largest 15-inch displays can actually double as a Fire TV. If you’re not too fussy or already anchored in the Amazon/Alexa ecosystem, the Echo Show is clearly a compelling product.
The best smart displays of 2023
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