I know that some of you have been waiting patiently for TLR to post our review for the Google Home Hub. First let me say thanks, secondly, Here you go. (Side note: I’ll be writing a comparison of the Amazon Echo show and Home Hub shortly)
“It’s pretty easy to recommend the Google Home Hub to anyone for any room.”
In truth I’m not entirely sure where to start this review, maybe it’s easier to start by explaining what it isn’t. What the Google Home Hub isn’t, is a device for video chats/calls. You can make Duo calls and regular phone calls the same as other Google Home devices that don’t have a camera. The choice not to add a camera seemed a bit weird when you consider that the 2 prior released Google smart display from Lenovo and JBL both have a camera. It’s even stranger when you consider that the Lenovo has a physical shutter switch that covers the camera as well as disabling the camera in software at the same time. My instincts tell me that Googled poled people and found that people were much more likely to install the Home Hub everywhere if it had NO camera versus a button that physically blocks off the camera… SIGH (I’m not one of those people that freaks over privacy, we all carry camera(s) in our pockets all day long and likely sleep with them on the bedside, and they don’t have physical shutters..lol)
(photo: TLR Technology)
So, unfortunately, no Duo video calls. If you want video calling you should look toward the Amazon Echo shows or the previous mention Google Smart Displays.
The next thing the home hub is not is a replacement for stand-alone speakers like Sonos, Google Home Max, or Apple Home Pod. The speakers sound great for what the Home Hub is though. They are louder and cleaner sounding than other small smart home speakers, such as Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini, but it doesn’t sound as good as the Amazon Echo show, or other Google smart displays. If you want a Google smart home display that’s audio focused check out the JBL Link View.
(photo: TLR Technology)
Ok, with all that said is the Google Home Hub worth it? ABSOLUTELY
The Google Home Hub is a flipping fantastic device for what it is, and what it is, is exactly what Google intended it to be… Google wanted to create a beautifully designed smart display that could be placed in any room and blend into the background. Google wanted to create a smart display that was priced to sell. Google wanted to create a device that placed all your scattered home controls in one place, a hub. What Google did was exceed expectations with the Home Hub.
Let’s get into some details. The display is fantastic, and it looks remarkably like an actual framed photo. It’s so good its hard to explain, you really need to see one of your photos on the display with the Ambient EQ enabled to fully understand.
I guess I should really explain what Googles Ambient EQ is. If you look at the Home Hub and look at what you’d think would be the camera is actually a light sensor. However, being a Google product it’s not just some basic light sensor, oh no, it is much more complicated than that. The light sensor not only detects how bright or dark the area is but it also detects the color of the light. Imagine you have a photo in a frame and its sitting next to colored light bulb, or in the orange glow of a sunrise or sunset, that photo will have a color tone that it gets from the light that’s reflecting on it. Ambient EQ does just that, it takes the light level and color and then uses AI to simulate the color shift on the photo the Home Hub is displaying. Google demonstrated this by placing the Home Hub next to a printed photo in the frame and you really can’t tell a difference as the light changes. It’s extremely impressive and goes a long way to create the illusion of a framed photo. It also helps Googles Home Hub to blend into the background.
“At the $150 price, I’d say the Home Hub is worth it.”
If you’ve used a google smart speaker or Google Assistant on your phone, then you already know what to expect. I won’t spend much time on this subject for obvious reasons but it does work extremely well despite only having 2 far-field microphones. Another trick that I found in the setting is the ability to lower the volume of a Google T.V device if the Home Hub is connected to one. (Our home hub is next to the T.V in the bedroom which uses a Google Nexus player as the streaming device. The Home Hub lowers the volume of the T.V when it hears “OK Google” cool right!)
Aside from the normal audio replies that you get from Google Home devices without a display you also get visual information as well. (I’m a fan of smart devices with display)
Google markets the display as being a great kitchen device because you can not only listen to recipes, you can see the ingredients list as well as instructions. They also allow you to play youtube videos and stream music from various sources with the album cover art. This wouldn’t be possible without the display. At the $150 price, I’d say the Home Hub is worth it, even if it only did what I’ve already explained… But of course, it does much more. It also can display maps/directions from Google maps, and then send those directions to your phone. Another cool feature is the ability to show your cameras, such as Ring or Nest doorbells. It can not only set multiple timers and alarms but it can visually show them to you, as well as reminders, shopping list, your calendars, and whatever else google decides in the future.
The Google Home Hub is, in fact, a hub. So let’s get into that. What Google has done is gathered all the smart home apps and services that you use and it compiles them into one very easy to understand and use interface… THANK YOU!! If you have a smart home then you’ll understand just how awesome this truly is, if not let me explain quickly.
I use Lifx blubs scattered across the house, in some rooms where the light fixture has more than one bulb we use Wemo smart wall switches. The thermostat is a Nest thermostat E. The door lock is a Keyvo. If I wanted to change the living room light color to blue and turn off the light in the dining room and set the thermostat I’d have to open 3 apps or have a routine set. The Home Hub places all these controls into a nice little package. I’d about be willing to pay $150 just for a tablet-style device that only did that… In fact, I looked and you can’t find a purpose-built device that places all your home control in one spot for anywhere close to $150.
It’s pretty easy to recommend the Google Home Hub to anyone for any room, I may look into getting at least one more to complement my Echo Shows. It’s the best looking digital photo frame that I’ve seen, It’s the most complete smart home hub that I’ve seen, Its the Google Assistant, and it’s relatively cheap.
IMPORTANT: If you buy a Google Home Hub, Google is including 6 months of Youtube Premium for free, that’s a $66 dollar value. If you subtract the $66 from the $149 cost of the Home Hub you’ll end up really paying $83 (If you were going to get Youtube Premium anyway)