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This season we’ve seen a flurry of new smart home hubs, control centres, smart speakers and digital assistants. Google and Amazon are absolutely owning the market when it comes to these voice controlled home helpers, making versions in every size, shape and configuration, with speakers, with and without screens, and with digital displays. The latest is a premium version of the Google Nest Hub; a bigger, bolder Google Nest Hub Max.
What is Google Nest Hub Max?
Google’s Nest Hub Max is a smart speaker with display. It’s everything you love about the Nest Hub (released earlier in 2019) and the Google Assistant which supplies personalized help, answers from Google, control for your connected home and more. This version adds a bigger and more powerful speaker, larger 10″ screen and Nest Hub Max’s built-in Nest Cam features help you keep an eye on your home while you’re away. It can control your smart home gadgets with voice control, and the Hub Max is AC powered so it’s always ready to respond to you.
I’ve had the original Google Home Max speaker in my living room for a couple of years and love it. It sounds great, it blends into my space and it’s got all the Google Assistant smarts. The Hub Max is a bit smaller, so I was curious about how it would sound.
Google says Hub Max’s stereo speakers were custom built to deliver full stereo sound, with a powerful rear-facing woofer.
Listening to music is did indeed sound great—easily just as good as the original. The audio is clear, crip and vibrant, and it’s gets plenty loud. There’s no noticeable bent towards the low end or the high, no raspiness or tinniness. In short it’s a really great sounding speaker.
Nest Hub Max’s has a 10-inch HD screen. you can watch YouTube videos just by asking or use the built-in Cast functionality, and you can stream from over a thousand apps to your Hub Max, essentially creating another streaming TV in your home.
The screen is definitely bright and beautiful. It’s got an ambient light mode that adjusts the screen brightness so that it blends into the room and never looks like a glaring TV set. I personally find it kind of small to watch TV on, but in a kitchen or a bathroom it might do the trick for you.
Before we get into the features, let’s take a quick look at the differences between original Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max.
Original Nest Hub has no camera, while Nest Hub Max has a Nest Cam built in. You can use if to making video calls or watching over your home.
The size difference is obvious; you’ve got a 7″ screen on the Hub and a 10″ screen on the Hub Max. The Hub Max also has a larger stereo speaker, and price is also a factor:
Nest Hub $169, Hub Max $299
One of the greatest features of the Google Assistant is its ability to talk to almost any smart home gadget (with the exception of competitor Ring video doorbells and cameras I’m nonplussed to say).
Use the built in Nest Cam camera to see what’s happening
If you don’t have a camera in the house like a Nest Cam, you can use the front facing camera on the Nest Hub Max for surveillance and monitoring. You’ll need to get it set up first and that’s not super obvious.
Duo video messaging
There’s also a feature that lets you leave video messages on the device, so you can greet someone even when you’re not there or leave video reminders.
The new Hub Max lets you use gestures to control the device if you’re standing near it. This feels a bit redundant since the whole raison d’etre of these devices if to make them voice controlled and hands free. But what do I know? Now you can hold up your hand to stop the music, or wave a hand to skip, but of course you have to be standing in front of the camera. You’ll also need to enable Camera Sensing inside the Google Home app or during set up to make this work.
Overall review of Google Nest Hub Max
Overall I’m a fan of the Google Assistant ecosystem at home. The Assistant is smart and more than capable of helping with any request. I love the smart home control I get, and the screen and the speaker are both high quality for watching video or listening to music.
The addition of a camera on this device gives added options for home surveillance which is a nice added bonus.
I did find the need for three apps to use with the Nest Hub Max a bit much; needing Google Home, Nest app and the Duo app, not to mention the Google Assistant app for various tasks seems like overkill. Perhaps as Nest becomes more absorbed into Google that will change and become more centralized.
Overall, I like the Google Nest Hub Max and think it’s a capable, handy and fun device that looks and sounds great.
It sells for about $299CAD (the smaller 5″ Hub is about $169) from Google’s website or any number of retailers like Best Buy.