The Google Home Hub smart display: everything you need to know

The Google Home Hub is now official. The smart display that features Google Assistant voice assistant was confirmed at Google’s Hardware event in October, and it comes in four different colors.

Unlike the Amazon Echo Show, the device doesn’t have a camera and relies heavily on Nest smart home integration and YouTube functionalities as features. The device began shipping October 22 for $150, a price that is very competive when compared with the $230 Echo Show and Lenovo Smart Display, which starts at $199. It will ship on October 22. For our full impressions, check out our complete Google Home Hub review.

What it does

Like most smart speakers, the Google Home Hub handles a lot of everyday entertainment and productivity functions like issuing commands, making shopping lists, and placing audio calls to friends and businesses. Like other Google Assistant-supported devices, it uses a voice-matching function to identify separate users and deliver their calendar, commuting details, and reminders, which are augmented by the new screen visuals.

google home hub specs roundup hands on 5082
Juliana Jara/Digital Trends

More importantly, it will integrate seamlessly with Nest’s ecosystem of products, as well as Philips Hue lightbulbs and August smart locks, among others. As with similar Google devices, the Google Home Hub supports more than 10,000 products across more than 1,000 popular brands. Those with a Nest Hello video doorbell will be able to answer the door using the Google Home Hub.

The Hub will also allow access to Google photos, allowing users to enable “Live Albums” to create slideshows by identifying people that the user wants to see regularly, such as friends or family members. Users can also simply access albums on the fly with voice commands like, “Hey Google, show me my photos from New York City.” The HD display will also play videos from YouTube, and the Hub will come with free six months of a YouTube Premium subscription.

What it looks like

The touchscreen is a bit smaller than competitors at 7 inches, and it looks a bit like a mini TV propped up by a fabric block. Google officials note that the Hub is “small enough to fit into any space in your home,” while also being “big enough to enjoy your photos from across the room.”

google home hub specs roundup hands on 5079
Juliana Jara/Digital Trends

It weighs about 17 ounces, and its dimensions run about 7 inches by 4.5 inches, with a surprisingly robust depth of 2.65 inches. It weighs the same as the standard Google Home, which means the engineers have been tinkering with its guts to make it lighter.

There are two physical controls: A volume rocker and a privacy switch to turn off the microphone and stop the device from listening for “OK, Google” voice commands. It turns out the Google Home Hub will be available in four colors: chalk, charcoal, aqua, and sand (read: white, dark gray, light blue, and pink).

No camera

A smart home dashboard called “Home View” means that Hub users can swipe down on the touchscreen to access every smart home gadget, such as lights, locks, plugs, thermostats, cameras, and speakers. It’s also available on the new Pixel 3 phone.

Possibly the most interesting feature of the Home Hub is what it doesn’t have: A camera. In a week when Facebook unveiled its Portal and Portal+ smart speakers with cameras, which allow users to chat with Facebook friends, Google’s decision seems counterintuitive, but may prove to be a wise move, given that many consumers are concerned about privacy. Google officials said the lack of a camera was intentional for privacy reasons, so people feel comfortable placing it in a bedroom or even the bathroom.

google home hub specs roundup hands on 5078
Juliana Jara/Digital Trends

The nightlight feature may be especially attractive given the news that the device has a new feature called Ambient EQ, which uses a dedicated light sensor to fine-tune the color and brightness of the display. Whether in the bedroom, kitche,n or living room, the display will adjust its brightness in accordance with daytime sun or evening home lighting. When it’s time for bed, the Hub will also automatically dim the screen so users can sleep.

Finally, Google is looking out for the family by consciously building in family-friendly filters for voice commands and content. In addition to a “downtime mode” that prevents it from interacting with anyone, other than alarms, the Hub also has parental control settings to block explicit content including images and audio content like lyrics in music.

Updated October 9, 2018: Added details on the Google Home Hub revealed at the Google Hardware event.

Smart Home

Google Home and Amazon Alexa are asking smart home device makers for user info

Google and Amazon want to establish a "continuous flow" of information between their servers and your smart home devices, but companies like Logitech have begun to speak out for user privacy.
Mobile

Google might release a smartwatch and multiple Pixel phones in 2019

Google seems to have a lot planned for 2019. According to a report, Google is planning on releasing multiple new Pixel phones, a smartwatch, a new Google Home, and a Nest Security camera this year.
Smart Home

Google Home Mini vs. Amazon Echo Dot: Which smart home speaker is better?

We put the two most popular smart home speakers -- the Google Home Mini and the 3rd generation Amazon Echo Dot -- together and tested them on appearance, audio, and abilities. So which should you buy? Find out how they did in our showdown.
Smart Home

Alexa, dim the lights: How voice assistants can help with Valentines Day

If you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home device, you can sweep your sweetheart off his or her feet this Valentine's Day with these romantic, mood-setting tips. Your sweetie will be impressed.
Smart Home

Lowe’s offers Presidents Day bargains on Samsung appliances, Nest, and Dyson

Anticipating the demand for DIY makeovers, Lowe's Presidents' Day sale has deals on popular products from Dyson, Nest, and Samsung. If you're shopping for a vacuum cleaner, a stainless steel fridge, or home security devices, head to Lowe's.
Smart Home

Abode Systems taps HelloTech for professional security system installations

Abode Systems has been expanding into the smart home security market and will enhance its technology with a new partnership with tech support firm HelloTech, which will install its security systems for a fee.
Smart Home

Samsung washing machine recall results in $6.55M class-action settlement

Samsung settled a class action lawsuit involving more than 30 top-loading washing machine models for $6.55 million. The suit alleged the machine tops could detach and explode. Original owners may qualify for refunds and cash settlements.
Smart Home

Want to publish your own Alexa skill? Here's how to do it

Building new Alexa skills has never been easier! Thanks to Alexa Blueprints, you can pick a template and create any kind of Alexa skill you want. What new skill will you make first? Here's how to do it.
Smart Home

Let a robot do your chores! Here are the best robot vacuums for 2019

Robot vacuums are a convenient way to tidy up your home and minimize your weekly to-do list. From a top-of-the-line model to a handy budget option, here are the best robot vacuums you can buy right now.
Smart Home

At KBIS 2019, LG brings its biggest lineup of Amazon Dash-equipped appliances

LG announced ahead of KBIS 2019 that its entire line of dishwashers and laundry appliances will now come pre-integrated with Amazon Dash, the online retailer's popular automatic replenishment program.
Emerging Tech

Words are so 2018. The Peeqo robot speaks exclusively in GIFs and video clips

Move over, Amazon Echo! Peeqo is a cute robot that will answer your spoken word questions by displaying a specially selected short video or GIF. Because, you know, it’s the year 2019.
Smart Home

Language barrier? Psh. Here's how to make your Google Home an ace translator

You can now use interpreter mode on your Google Home devices. This means, you can use your Google Home device to translate conversations in real-time. Here's how to use interpreter mode.
Smart Home

Ring adds color night vision to wired security devices and HDR to wireless ones

Ring rolled out color night vision to its wired security products with cameras such as the Spotlight Cam Wired. At the same time, Ring added HDR control to its battery-powered security devices including the Video Doorbell 2.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.