Google’s Nest Hub Smart Display has a new big brother, the Nest Hub Max, available now for $229, which is $100 more than the original Nest Hub retails for.
The Nest Hub Max offers better sound quality, a bigger screen, and the addition of a camera that can rack your face during a video call or keep an eye over your home while you’re away.
Google didn’t rewrite the playbook This thing with the same design the same operating system the same ambient light sensor that automatically adjust the brightness of the display and the same voice activated Google Assistant smarts.
It really is just a bigger louder version of the nest hub.
Google did add a camera to it smart display though, and there’s a lot more to it than just making Google duo video calls to your contacts.
For instance, you can move around during those video calls because the wide-angle 127 degree lens tracks your movement.
Automatically panning, tilting, and zooming to follow you around and keep you in frame.
If you’re listening to music or watching a video, you can start or stop playback just by raising your hand.
It’s a cool feature, but one that only works at close range.
Google’s camera also uses face recognition technology to remember what each user in your home looks like.
When it recognises you.
It’ll show you things like messages and calendar reminders.
When it doesn’t recognise you, it won’t show that personal stuff at all.
On top of that, you can use the Nest of Max’s camera just like a Nest camp to keep an eye on your home.
It doesn’t have night vision capabilities.
But if it sees movement or an unexpected face, it’ll send you a notification.
You can even set motion based activity zones within the field of view.
Now before we continue, let’s stop and chat just a bit about privacy because yeah, this isn’t always watching camera that’s made for central placement in your home.
And it’s connected to the cloud of a company that’s had its fair share of privacy issues.
Just earlier this year, Google joined names like apple, Amazon and Microsoft when it admitted that it listens to user voice data.
Worse, that admission only came after one of Google’s contractors in Europe Google whistle by leaking those recordings to the press.
Now on the one hand, you can understand Google’s wanting to improve the assistance capabilities similar to the way it might study users search terms in order to build a better search engine.
But then again, Google was also studying audio snippets that were accidentally picked up by the Google Assistant.
That’s more than most of us are comfortable with, especially given that Google was less than transparent about the practice to begin with.
Now, the Google nest of Max is adding a camera into that mix.
And remember the original Google Nesta didn’t include a camera at all, which is one of the things we liked about it.
You can disable that camera with this switch but it isn’t a physical shutter that covers the lens like you get on the Amazon Echo Show 5. Google also lets you delete the saved audio of your interactions with the Google Assistant at any time you like.
And says that new features that use the camera or microphones will be off by default until users choose to enable them.
As for your face data, Google says that it’s stored locally on the device itself.
But the fine print in Google’s app also says that Google will temporarily process that data from time to time in order to improve the quality of your experience.
From my perspective, it feels like companies like Google that are making devices like these for our homes are still sort of blindly feeling their ways around the privacy implications.
and trying to figure out what consumers are and are not comfortable with.
I know that I’d feel a lot more comfortable if these companies would make clear standards about the ways they are and are not using our personal data.
All of that said smart displays are really useful and really versal too.
And the original nest hub was one of our favorites of the bunch.
The additional of a camera and the next hub max gives you even more ways to put it to use and the sound quality is stronger than before too Go ahead take a listen
The bigger question how does this sound quality stack up against the second Jan amazon aka show, which also costs $230 To my ear, it’s pretty close, but judge for yourself.
[MUSIC I still think Google has a better smart display operating system than Amazon.
And it still does a much better job as an ambient photo display provided you store your photos with Google.
But the integrations of this thing still leave a lot to be desired.
Let’s start with video.
The Nest Hub Max supports YouTube, HBO Now, and CBS All Access, CBS being CNet’s parent company by the way.
But you can’t play anything from Netflix or Hulu.
I also found myself missing my remote as I tried navigating from show to show using the Hub Max’s touchscreen and my voice.
As for music, the Nest Hub Max can play tunes from YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, and Deezer.
Alexa doesn’t support YouTube Music or Google Play Music, but it supports those other three and it adds in Amazon Music, Apple Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Tidal, and Vevo.
That’s a much better mix of options than Google’s got.
And then there’s the smart home Just recently, Google ended the popular works with nest partner program and forced its users to migrate their nest accounts over to Google.
That program allowed the makers of third party devices like this haiku ceiling fan, to sync up with gadgets like the nest thermostat, as well as Google smart speakers and smart home displays.
Now those connections are broken, which forces developers to start from scratch, if they wanna place in Google’s walled garden.
That cuts right against the promise of an interconnected smart home, where stuff just works together.
For that reason, I think that the Nest Hub Max is a tough purchase to justify at full price.
For $100 more or less, since it’s on sale so often, I actually like the original Nest Hub a lot better The smaller size is right in a glanceable sweet spot and the sound quality is fine for casual listening.
You won’t get any of the new camera features, but unless you regularly use google [UNKNOWN], I really don’t think you’ll miss him.
The next of Max might be Google’s newest, biggest, most advanced smart display that doesn’t make of the best.