Oh, what a wonderful tech-tember season, there’s not one but three new smart home devices from three different players. Although one is likely on loan with a different jersey.
Excuse our convoluted intro, we tried but you’re just picky. Which is a good thing because now you have Google Nest Hub, Amazon Echo Show 5 and Lenovo Smart Clock locked in a three-way royal rumble. Which one is better? Well, we’ve already tested the smarts from Lenovo and Amazon, so now Google’s take on bedside alarm clock is right on time for settling the argument.
So which one should you invite over for cutting the snooze short? Google, Amazon or Lenovo?
DESIGN: It adjusts
Google Nest Hub is exactly a year late to the Indian market but better late than never. Albeit, nothing has changed from the international launch back from 2018 when it was named Google Home Hub. It’s still the same gorgeous 7in LCD display and it’s still better than the competition in terms of brightness and overall quality.
There’s an Ambient EQ sensor in the center of the top bezel which actually makes a massive difference in adjusting the colour temperature and brightness. It’s too quick and in pitch darkness, makes the screen least bit intrusive for sleepy eyes.
The speaker housing is rather different than the competitors. It’s not in continuum with the screen but rather the 7in LCD is slapped onto a small-sized speaker. The speakers are dressed in fabric, Chalk or Charcoal depending on your variant and the front bezels will stay white regardless of the colour variant.
FEATURES: I’ll google this review
Sit back and voice your commands like the President of a four-walled and a roof nation. The Nest Hub has two front mics that can pick up your commands from a good distance and even over loud music and chatty family members.
Google’s probably on par with Amazon’s Echo devices in terms of smart home integration and with the Nest ecosystem, you can control existing Nest devices and expertly navigate using your vocal chords.
You can even set commands that will execute multiple actions, some of which Google rightly recommends. Say goodnight and your AI butler will switch off the lights, turn on alarms (nobody keeps just one alarm) and turn on soothing music to put you to bed. We didn’t really enjoy the rain or jungle sounds that were chosen by Google and the possibility of playing your playlist wasn’t given. It’s down to personal preference but the option would’ve been nice.
All of Google’s services are present and indefinitely yours to use as long you ask for it from the 7in talking display. Aside from YouTube Music and Google Play Music, you can sync your Spotify, JioSaavn, Gaana, Voot and Wynk Music accounts to play music off those and even have it as default but no Apple Music!
SMART HOME: One step forward, no jack at the back
The speakers on the Hub itself are quite nice and super loud. They have clarity but no bass, so if you really want to enjoy music, you’ll definitely need a Bluetooth enabled speakers. There are no ports at the back other than the regular power cord port. Amazon Echo Spot 5 has a 3.5mm headphone jack which makes it ideal for plugging external speakers to get fire better quality audio but Google Nest Hub relies solely on Bluetooth 5.0 to connect to anything and Bluetooth living room speakers are far and few to work in conjunction with the it.
If you put the Hub in a kitchen, it will show you recipes and take you step by step on cooking it. Although, it didn’t work as smoothly as the Echo Show 5 did.
If you find yourself cozying into Google’s lap before the Nest Hub took the space on your bedside table, be ready to absolutely love it. Google Maps and YouTube drop under ‘essentials’ for most people and this time you can ask for traffic updates and get a visual peek at it as well. My mother raced to the mirror after she found out that it’s going to take more than an hour and a half to reach Andheri for a wedding function but that panic quickly dissolved into a zen-like speed as she followed a make-up tutorial on YouTube thanks to the 7in screen. Then 15mins into it, she barked orders to the AI butler to book an Uber. Surprisingly, Google Nest Hub can’t do that here! Yup, it cannot call for an Uber for you, it cannot order food on Zomato or Swiggy and neither can it let you do a two-way video call.
Our Feature’s Editor spent time with the Lenovo Smart Clock and she doesn’t want a camera on her talking screen. Our Editor spent time with the Amazon Echo Show 5 and he’s happy with a physical shutter on the camera to keep prying eyes from posting photos of him using embargoed products. I too want a camera with a shutter. Instead, I had to watch my friend on the dinky screen while she remained bamboozled with a blank screen on her smartphone. That’s one-way video calling awkwardness at its finest. She even downloaded Google Duo to make this thing work on both sides. Needless to say, we switched back to the smartphone for catching up.
GOOGLE Nest HUB VERDICT
Google Nest Hub is the expensive one from the trio of smart clocks. It’s even the biggest and most refined of the trio. All of Google’s app work like magic and every app opens with lightning urgency. The 7in display is will be a nice photo frame when you want it to be. It’ll use Google Photos to sort out your favourite clicks and cherry-pick your loved ones too.
The ambient light sensor is more important than you think. It keeps the screen from sticking out like a sore thumb under tricky light conditions and always responds correctly.
Google’s own services are what makes the Hub such a compelling smart home device but if you’re an Apple fan then get ready to shift to Google’s playground. Chances are, you’re anyways using Google Maps and YouTube.
The omission of a camera, headphone jack and important services like Uber, Swiggy, Zomato, Apple Music and Hotstar means that there’s a lot of room for improvement.