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15 June 2019

REVIEW: Google Home Hub

Review of the Google Home Hub
Seeing is believing

A few months back we reviewed the beast that is the Lenovo Smart Display; a Google Assistant compatible screen that responded to your many calls of 'Hey, Google'. For a while it was the go-to smart display for fans of Google's AI helper... until now. The search giant has caught up and produced their own smart display, and done it their own unique way. We check out the Google Home Hub.


To the uninitiated, a smart display is essentially like a smart speaker (think Amazon Echo) that also has a screen. This means you can literally 'see' search results, look at things like schedules, and watch videos. You simply sign into your Google account and add it to your smarthome infrastructure of lights, sensors, speakers etc.

Review of the Google Home Hub

Unlike the Lenovo display, the Google Home Hub is on the smaller size. The screen is only seven inches across (unlike the Lenovo's ten inches) making it only slightly larger than the average smartphone. The whole package is tighter, too, with the speaker housed in the base stand. There is a power cable port on the back, a volume rocker, and a button to mute the microphone for privacy. And that's it.

On the front, just above that refreshingly small screen, you'll find an ambient light sensor. This is an innovative feature of the Home Hub which aids in one of it's most attractive passive uses; as a digital photo frame. The sensor tracks the lighting conditions of the room and matches the screen brightness and colour temperature accordingly. This makes your photos (sourced via your Google Photos account) look great, and avoids the bright glare that cheaper digital frames put out.

Review of the Google Home Hub

However, there is no camera next to that sensor. Cameras are part and parcel of other smart displays, allowing the user to make video calls over Google Duo. You can still make voice calls, as per other Google smart speakers, but the absence of visual calls may put some people off. We weren't all that fussed, though, as the likes of Duo and Hangouts video chat is always easier on your phone, and we were more than happy at the price reduction the lack of a camera potentially created.

Review of the Google Home Hub

One thing that a Google smart device with a screen will offer is access to YouTube music. Why all Google speakers don't get this, we don't know, but it is a very handy thing, giving you access to all the music on YouTube for free. This worked a treat on the Lenovo device, thanks to the beefy speaker it possessed, but on the Google Home Hub music will end up sounding a little flat.

We were never fans of the original Google Home's sound output, and always found ourselves using larger devices hooked up to Amazon Prime Music. For the Home Hub's output, think Google Home Mini but with a screen. The sound quality is passable, and you can certainly hear everything well, but it's not going to blow you away. If you want a little tune playing in the background, go for it. If you're primarily interested in 'raising da roof', go elsewhere.

Review of the Google Home Hub

But this isn't designed to be a speaker, nor can we say we watched all that much YouTube content on it. It's a smart assistant, first and foremost, but one that places emphasis on the assistant tasks offered by Google's AI. Placed centrally in your home, this will pick up almost all vocal requests, performing better in terms of sensitivity than the Google Home. 

Saving reminders, accessing your calendar, doing visual searches of the net... it does all that wonderfully, while also displaying your Google Photos on that glorious and adaptive screen. The Google Home Hub will be desirable to those of us with existing Google setups in our homes, but also to those wanting to take their first steps. Check it out.

£119

Available from ao.com



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