A digital photo frame sits neatly on your shelf and displays your favourite photos from your phone, laptop, or SD card. They’re great to have around because you can always change up your photos and display the latest pics you’ve taken. But what if that photo frame could also act as your daily assistant, help you cook, control your smart home, and stream videos or music?
That’s exactly what Google Nest Hub does. On the surface it’s a digital photo frame that displays all of your photos, but underneath it’s a little powerhouse of smart home control and entertainment. It’s like adding a display to your Google Mini or Google Home, and that display ties everything you enjoy or use at home together to give you one stop access to cameras, door locks, lights, music, and videos.
Here’s my review of the Google Nest Hub.
Appearance and Features of Google Nest Hub
To say I love this device is a massive understatement. I really love it. I use my Google Minis every day, and what was missing for me was always the visual component. I like that she tells me my schedule or sends us off to sleep with a nighttime routine, but I always wanted to hook my iPad up to it. This is even better.
- Google Nest Hub has an Ambient EQ Light sensor, so it can dim at bedtime or blend into any room with a perfectly lit display
- Voice detection from across the room thanks to two far-field microphones
- 7 inch sensitive touchscreen display with 1024 x 600 resolution
- Compatible with 5,000 smart devices from over 400 brands including Nest, TP Link, LG, iRobot, and Honeywell
- Available in different colours including Charcoal, Chalk, Aqua, and Sand
- Compact device that measures 118 mm x 178.5 mm by 67.3 mm
- Gives you multi-room audio when you connect several google home or mini devices
- Google Assistant built in
- Chromecast built in
- Bluetooth 5
- Works with Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Chromebook
Setting Up Google Nest Hub
Setup of the Google Nest Hub is easy. All you need is an electrical outlet, your Wi-Fi network name and password, and the Google Home App on your phone.
Once you plug in the Google Nest Hub, it will appear as a device on your Google Home App. You can add it there and connect it to Wi-Fi. Keep in mind that you should select the same Wi-Fi network that you have your smart home devices on. Some may show up when you’re on an alternate network, but smart lights like Philips Hue need to be all on one.
Testing Out the Google Nest Hub
Once you’re connected to Wi-Fi, the sky’s the limit to what you can do with Google Nest Hub. If you’ve ever asked your Google Assistant a question or walked through a recipe with her, you’ve probably thought at least once, “But I just want to SEE what you’re talking about.” Now you can, and trust me, it’s a great feeling.
Here’s a few of the ways I’ve used Google Nest Hub and some of its great features.
Display Your Photos
I’ve always used digital photo frames to display the latest photos of my kids. I don’t want to waste paper by printing them all off, but I like to see their smiling faces displayed in our house.
When you send your photos to Google Nest Hub, you can create a Google album of your favourite pics or memorable moments and stream them straight to the device. All you have to do is select Photo Frame in your Google Nest Hub, choose the pictures you want to stream, and your Google Nest Hub will display them.
The photos can act as a screensaver for when your Google Nest Hub isn’t in use.
Control Your Smart Home
I have so many smart home devices that it’s hard to keep track sometimes. I have 10 Philips Hue bulbs in my house, a few smart switches to turn lights off and on, Wi-Fi cameras everywhere, an alarm, and quite a bit more. I’ve always liked how I can control all of my devices from the Google Home App, but I have always wanted a touch screen display that could control them too.
It’s so amazing to control all of your devices from one hub, and when you swipe down on the screen they are all displayed together in one spot. It’s even better when you can use voice commands and the hub will display the status of your device. At that point, you can choose to tap the screen to control it or just keep using your voice commands.
Keep in mind that, as per the name, this is also a Nest product. Like everything Nest does, the tie-in with the Nest cameras is seamless. I can say, “OK Google, show me the outside cam” and watch a live stream in a second. It pulls up the stream faster than the app on my phone.
Locking my doors is just as easy. I’ll walk past the Google Nest Hub and say, “OK Google, lock my back door,” and it’s done faster than if I walked to the back door or pulled out my phone. It’s about more than just convenience or saving me from a trot to the back door, this is about security.
When I realized that I could do this, it made me think of all the times someone has shown up at my door at night or just randomly, I didn’t know them, and I didn’t feel as though it was safe to answer it. Now I can lock my house down and see what’s going on outside, all without moving from my living room.
Bottom line, if you have a smart home, this is the device that ties everything together. The only devices I have that aren’t compatible yet are my Ring devices.
Routines are Better with Video
If you’ve used Google Home before, you know you can set up different routines for when you wake up or go to sleep. I’ve loved using the ‘Good Night’ routine with my kids. The Google Assistant will set their alarm and play soothing night sounds. It’s a great way to wind down.
With the Google Nest Hub, you can use your routines with the added bonus of video. My morning routine tells me the weather for that day, tells me what I have on my schedule, turns my Philips Hue lights in my living room on, and shows me a quick video clip of the latest news. There are also routines for I’m Home, Commuting, and Leaving Home. You can even create your own routine.
Testing the Ambient EQ Light Sensor
Lying in bed watching video on the 1024 x 600 small screen is amazing. It’s even better because the Google Nest Hub has an Ambient EQ Light Sensor to tailor the brightness of the screen to the room you’re in. If I’m watching during the day, the brightness level is perfect for the room, but at night it dims so it doesn’t bug you when you’re sleeping.
I found the Light Sensor worked really well. If I ever wanted to adjust it myself (and I never did), I could just swipe up, tap the brightness, and slide it up or down.
Voice Detection from Across the Room and Around the Corner
I’ve always found my Google Home devices to have great voice detection, but the Google Nest Hub can detect from so far away it shocked me. I was outside with a window open and said “OK Google,” and it detected my voice. I must have been at least 50 feet away.
The reason it can detect from so far away is because there are two far-field microphones built into the Google Nest Hub. I could talk to it from down the hall and around the corner, and it would pick up my voice.
Cooking with Google Nest Hub
I’ve cooked with my Google Home before, but I found it difficult to follow along the recipe when I wasn’t sure what was coming next. With the Google Nest Hub, you can see the recipe in front of you, and you can follow along with the instructions by saying, “OK Google, next.” You can also save the recipe to a cookbook so you can always go back to it.
Even better? If you get stuck or you want to see the finished product before you make it, just ask Google to pull up a video about making that food. She’ll pull up YouTube, and you can watch a quick cooking video while you chop, sauté, and broil.
Listening to Music on Google Nest Hub
The speaker on Google Nest Hub is crisp and clear, even at high volumes. You can link it to Google Music, Apple Music, or music services like Spotify, and you’ll be able to stream your favourite playlist. You can also link together your Google Minis with your Google Nest Hub and enjoy multi-room audio.
I love multi-room audio. I have all of my Minis connected to the Hub, and I can stream music to every room. The only thing to watch out for is if you are using a Family Spotify subscription like I am, you’ll want to make sure you don’t boot your kids off of their stream when you start streaming yourself. I started getting texts when I was streaming at home and my daughter was at school. Apparently I took over her Google Mini, and her music switched to my playlist.
Want to Schedule Digital Downtime?
Digital Wellbeing is a setting on your Google Nest Hub that schedules downtime so your assistant won’t be active. It’s a great way to restrict kids from using it during a certain time or make sure it won’t turn on when you’re eating a family dinner.
You can choose your Digital Wellbeing settings in the Google Home App.
Should You Buy the Google Nest Hub?
This is the smart home device I have been waiting for, and I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do. It’s such a seamless device in terms of control for your smart home, and it’s pretty amazing that I can pull up a quick video without having to turn on my TV or open my phone.
Whether you use it as an assistant, photo frame, or to fully control your smart home, the Google Nest Hub is a keeper. You can bring home your own Google Nest Hub right now. It’s available in 4 colours on Best Buy.