With the Home Mini and Home Max in 2017, Google was able to inundate the market with affordable smart speakers, while offering an audiophile experience for the high-end. This year, the Made by Google lineup is gaining its first Assistant Smart Display with the Google Home Hub.
The Google Home Hub is defined by a 7-inch touchscreen attached to a fabric-covered base. Available in Chalk (gray), Mint, Pink, and Charcoal (black), these are the same colors found on Google’s other speakers.
On this Smart Display, the colors are applied everywhere, except for the bezel of the screen and the white power cord. Otherwise, the perimeter and rear of the screen, fabric, and buttons are all nicely color coordinated.
In terms of physical controls, there is a volume rocker when users reach behind the right side of the screen and a standard toggle to disable the microphone up top. Besides the screen for interactivity, the Google Home Hub features far-field microphones for ‘Hey Google’ and ‘Ok Google’ hotword recognition.
Voice Match works to show a user’s calendar, commute details, reminders and other personal information. Like a Google Home, users can ask questions, get recipes, find businesses, and more, but all with the added benefit of visual aids. For example, when cooking, users can get step-by-step directions or see a map of locations.
For families, Google Home Hub features a Downtime mode where interaction is limited to alarms and other key actions at night or other limited times of the day. Parents can also set Filters on content so that only child-friendly content is accessible.
As the name suggests, the Home Hub is a “hub” for all smart home devices. A new Home View dashboard — accessible by sliding down from the top of the screen — allows users to see door locks, security cameras, and thermostats.
Users can also watch YouTube, YouTube TV, and other video services right on Google Home Hub. Another key feature allowed by the screen is a slide show mode. Populated by Google Photos, users can select collections, while new images can be added with Live Albums. The Home Hub will intelligently use machine learning to not show blurry images.
Meanwhile, Ambient EQ uses a sensor and algorithm to fine tune the color of the display throughout the day, while the screen turns off automatically at night.
However, video calls through Google Duo are not possible due to the lack of a front-facing camera. According to Google, the lack of a front-facing camera is a purposeful decision to allay any privacy concerns.
This puts the Google Home Hub at a disadvantage compared to the already available Lenovo Smart Display and JBL Link View. Additionally, the 7-inch touchscreen offers the least real estate of all existing devices.
On the audio front, Google touts full-range speakers. Other specs include 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi at 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands, as well as Bluetooth.
The Google Home Hub is priced very competitively at $149 and available for pre-order on the Google Store starting today. Six months of free YouTube Premium is included, with availability on October 22nd in the US, UK, and Australia.