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Lifewire / Erika Rawes
More processing power
An additional microphone for voice recognition
Soli Radar technology included
Thread technology coming soon
Few design changes compared to predecessor
The Google Nest Hub 2 has a lot to offer for its low price, but the lack of a camera limits the smart display in more ways than one.
We purchased the Google Nest Hub 2nd Generation so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for their full product review.
Smart displays provide additional benefits over smart speakers, allowing you to visually interact with a voice assistant as well as communicate via voice. Google’s Nest Hub 2nd Gen is the successor to the brand’s original Nest Hub (previously called Google Home Hub).
Since Google doesn’t update its smart speaker and display hardware as frequently as Amazon, we expected to see a slew of new features and hardware upgrades. What’s new and different about the new Nest Hub? How does it compare to other smart displays on the market? I tested the Nest Hub 2nd Gen to find out, evaluating its design, setup, sound, display, voice recognition, and features.
The Nest Hub 2nd Gen looks similar to the original Nest Hub, and it’s tough to tell the difference between the new and old models at first glance. Like the original, the new Nest Hub has a 7-inch screen that rests on a fabric-surrounded base. However, the new Hub has a more seamless look given the screen’s bezel is significantly less pronounced. The Nest Hub 2 also uses 54 percent recycled plastics to make the enclosure.
The Hub 2 measures 4.7 inches tall, 7.0 inches wide, and 2.7 inches in depth, and it’s available in four color options: Chalk, Charcoal, Mist, or Sand. It’s small enough to use as an alarm clock or bedside assistant without taking up too much space on your nightstand. It also serves well as a kitchen companion for smaller kitchens or for those who want a smart display that doesn’t take up too much space.
"The Hub 2 has a three-mic array instead of a two-mic array like the original Hub. The new Hub also has a faster processor, so you’ll get better performance all around."
The controls are well placed, with the microphone off button placed on the back of the device so it’s accessible, yet not in the way. The hard volume buttons are on the back right side, but you can also adjust the volume with your voice.
If you already have the Google Home app downloaded, you can get the Nest Hub set up and ready in about 15 minutes. If not, you’ll need to download the app on your mobile device. Once you have the app, you just plug in the device and add the Hub to your account by scanning the QR code on the screen.
The Hub 2 will take you through several prompts, asking if you want to use features like voice match, sleep sensing, TV services, and more. Although it can be a pain to set these all up at once, it can save you quite a bit of hassle later on.
Although not much has changed in the looks department, the Nest Hub 2 has a few key differences when compared to the original Nest Hub. The new Hub adds Soli Radar, which can track minute movements. This allows it to track sleep data, as well as allow for gesture controls.
In terms of its hardware, the Hub 2 has a three-mic array instead of a two-mic array. The new Hub also has a faster processor, so you’ll get better performance all around.
The Nest Hub 2 has a full-range 1.7-inch driver. Music sounds rich and full, and I could hear the lyrics, melody, and bass clearly at every volume level. I was impressed with the music quality given the size of this device. There’s an equalizer too if I want to make the music more bass or treble heavy. Plus, with a smart display, you can see the lyrics onscreen and sing along.
For shows, movies, and videos, the audio is powerful and clear enough to engage you in an action scene, and you can clearly hear dialogue without the background music overpowering the speech. The Nest Hub 2 doesn’t sound nearly as good as the more expensive Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen), but the Show 10 has dual 1-inch tweeters, a 3-inch subwoofer, and a $250 price tag.
For voice recognition, the Nest Hub 2 has three far-field microphones, and Google Assistant can hear commands even when a song or show is playing on full blast. Google Nest devices have always thrived in terms of their voice recognition. Even when they have less mics under the hood than their Echo competitors, Google Nest speakers and displays tend to hear commands much better.
If you’re using the Hub 2 as a bedside assistant, the alarm is extremely pleasant. It sounds peaceful, with a sunrise alarm clock built in to help you wake up gently. You can use a hand swiping gesture to snooze the alarm, and it will give you another 10 minutes before it goes off again. You can also play soothing relaxation sounds right from the main interface or using a voice command. Relax to the flow of a river, waves breaking on the ocean, white noise, or other sounds to help you wind down.
One standout feature (or should I say deficiency) of the original Nest Hub is that it lacks a camera for video chatting. Some say it’s better for privacy, and that’s true in some ways, but Echo smart displays let you block the camera at any time with a physical slider switch, thus allowing users to have a camera only when they want one.
The Nest Hub 2 still doesn’t have a camera at all, which means in addition to losing the ability to video call, it also doesn’t have the built-in Home monitoring feature you get with the Nest Hub Max or the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen). I found this to be a major bummer. You can make voice calls, sure, but you can do that on a smart speaker device without a screen.
The Nest Hub 2 has a 7-inch touchscreen with 1024 x 600 resolution. The display is bright, with good color clarity and sharpness. The main interface is clean, and it’s easy to navigate the display (although you can always just use voice commands). Security camera and video doorbell feeds come through well, and you can clearly see who’s at the door when someone rings your compatible video doorbell.
The Nest Hub 2 is powered by Google Assistant, and it’s the same Google Assistant you get with other Google Nest smart speakers and displays. Backed by a Quad-core 64-bit 1.9 GHz ARM CPU and high performance-machine learning hardware engine, the Nest Hub 2 presents a Google Assistant that’s intuitive and helpful.
The Nest Hub 2 has Soli Radar, so you can control it using hand gestures (without even touching the actual screen). It can also track sleep data.
However, I have found that Google Assistant isn’t always as good at finding location-specific statistics as it is at finding general statistics or statistics pertaining to a large area (like a state or country). For instance, if I ask for statistics about North Carolina, Google Assistant can usually provide them, but if I ask for statistics in smaller areas like Wake County, NC or Apex, NC, the Assistant has more trouble, even if those stats are available via Google search.
Google Assistant is excellent for an abundance of tasks though, especially when paired with a smart display like the Nest Hub 2. You can cook along with recipes, and Google Assistant will read you the steps and wait until you’re ready to go to the next step. You can read along with song lyrics, read or listen to a book, use interpreter mode to communicate in another language, control your smart home from the main screen or using your voice, and so much more.
As mentioned above, the Nest Hub 2 has Soli Radar, so you can control it using hand gestures (without even touching the actual screen). It can also track sleep data, and give you tips on how to get better sleep. Google Nest will likely find more uses for Soli Radar in the future too. The Nest Hub 2 also has an ambient EQ sensor for light adjustments, a temperature sensor, Bluetooth, 2.4 and 5 Ghz Wi-Fi, and Thread functionality will be available later on.
The Nest Hub 2 is an outstanding price at $100, especially given the addition of Soli Radar. If you prefer Google Assistant over other smart assistants like Siri and Alexa, this one device can serve as a sunrise alarm clock, personal assistant, sleep tracker, smart display for camera feeds, and mini TV. There’s so much value here, if only it had a camera.
The $100 Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen) is a smaller device than the $250 Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen), and it doesn’t have a camera. The Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) has a 13MP camera for video calling and is more powerful than the Nest Hub 2 in just about every area—it has a significantly larger speaker system, a larger display screen, and more processing power.
The Show 10 can also move with you as you move around the room, keeping the screen pointed toward you as you interact with Alexa, talk on a video call, follow along with a recipe, or watch a show. The Nest Hub 2 does offer Soli Radar, which gives it some cool perks.
The Nest Hub 2 is better for those who prefer the Google Nest ecosystem, for those who want a smaller smart display for a kitchen or common area, and it’s an excellent choice as an alarm clock. The Echo Show 10 is better for anyone who prefers Amazon’s ecosystem, those who want to make video calls, and those who want a more powerful device.
Google Nest makes few changes compared to the previous Nest Hub, but those changes are significant.
The addition of Soli Radar opens up a lot of possibilities for the Nest Hub 2. Combine that with future Thread technology, a better processor, and an additional mic, and you have a smart display that’s well worth the $100 price. The only thing that could make the Hub 2 better is a camera, which the device still lacks.
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