Google’s latest product release is the Home Hub, yet another smart display hitting the market this year. The Home Hub ($149) is a smart speaker with Google Assistant voice assistant technology and competes against the recently released Amazon Echo Show ($230), which is an Alexa-controlled voice assistant. At first glance, these two smart displays seem to be very similar, but they’re actually pretty different.
To help out, we’re going to look at how the two devices measure up and which one you may want around the home.
Take a look at the displays for each device, and it’s clear both the Home Hub and the Show 2 have very similar shaped touchscreens. The size, however, is a different matter: The Google Home Hub has a 7-inch display, while the Show 2 has a 10.1-inch high definition display.
Those three inches can make quite a big difference when actually using the devices. You see, since a smart display is designed to stay in one spot, you need to be able to view it with ease as you move around the room. A larger screen leads to a clearer picture: This is particularly important when reading details/instructions or watching a show. The Show 2 simply provides more in this area.
While the front of the Google Home Hub and the Show 2 look mostly the same—Google’s display is slightly more rounded and has a smaller form factor— the back is where the true difference lies.
The Home Hub has a floating display with a back like an angled pedestal propping up the larger display. This makes the Home Hub better for setting up on tight spaces shared with other objects, such as a shelf or the corner of a table.
The Echo Show 2, on the other hand, has a pyramid-like support angling back from the edges of the display. This provides more base support than the Home Hub and makes the smart display harder to accidentally knock over. But the Show 2 may need a little more room, depending on where you want to put it.
Both designs feature a similar cloth-like covering for the bases. Behind that covering are the speakers for the devices, so you don’t want to crowd them too much. The Google Home Hub model is available in several colors, including charcoal, aqua, chalk, and sand. The Echo 2 is available only in charcoal and sandstone.
While both the Google Home Hub and the Amazon Echo Show can play videos and control your smart home devices, there are other areas where these two smart displays diverge significantly. Let’s take several important features one by one and talk about how they compare.
Speaker: The Echo Show 2 has two separate 2-inch speakers, a passive bass radiator, and Dolby processing that come together for some impressive sound — much improved over the Echo Show first edition. All we know so far about the Google Home Hub is that it has a “full-range speaker.” Our initial testing of the device at the Google event puts the sound quality somewhere between the Google Home and the Google Home Mini. That’s not great. For now it looks like the Show 2 has the upper hand in full-room sound.
Cameras and calls: Interestingly, the Home Hub does not have a camera feature. That means that it can’t make video calls, which the Show and other smart displays offer with a simple voice command. Google appears worried that people will think the Home Hub is spying on them if it includes a camera. The company specifically mentions that you can use the Hub in the bedroom or other private areas without fear. If you’re really concerned about privacy, it may be a plus.
Smart home integration: Both the Show 2 and the Home Hub have extensive smart home capabilities. Alexa and Google Assistant are both compatible with most smart devices around the home, including many major brands, so you probably don’t need to worry about compatibility issues, give or take a little variance. If you have questions about a specific device in your house, look it up to find out what it works with.
For example, a smart security cam (some of which can send video footage to a smart display) may work with Alexa and not Google Assistant or vice versa, so it’s always smart to check. You can answer a Ring doorbell through your Echo Show device. The Google Home Hub is designed to work closely with Nest products, and you can answer a Nest Hello video doorbell through the Home Hub.
In addition, the Echo Show is also a built in Zigbee smart hub, giving you an additional option for connecting devices even if they aren’t compatible with Alexa.
Skills vs. Google Assistant: Alex on Echo devices offers “skills” which are basically mini-apps that you can load to give Alexa specific abilities, such as news reports from your favorite newspaper or games to play. These skills offer a lot of options for personalization, but they also take a lot of time to manage. The Home Hub offers only what Google Assistant is capable of: There’s less customization, but also less messing around in settings. This could go either way, depending on what you like.
Photos: The Google Home Hub works with Google Photos, with a “live album” feature that allows you to turn the Hub in a living photo album of a recent collection of photos. This makes the Hub well suited to serve as a picture frame when not in use. The Show 2 can also show photos, but it doesn’t have the same focus or photo rotation capabilities and doesn’t sync with Google Photos automatically.
Music and movies: The Home Hub features Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and other music subscription services that work with Google Assistant. The Show 2 works with Amazon Prime music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, Audible, and more.
When it comes to movies and TV shows, the Hub offers ready access to YouTube and six free months of YouTube Premium. The Show 2, on the other hand, does not feature YouTube but is compatible with Prime Video (you can watch Prime movies and original content and movies you’ve purchased through Amazon), live TV and sports via Hulu. Overall, the Show 2 seems better positioned to be an entertainment device as long as you can live without YouTube.
Pricing and availability
The Google Home Hub: Preorder now, available October 22, 2018, for $149.
Echo Show: Preorder now, available October 11, 2018 for $230.
As you can see, the Home Hub is significantly more affordable that the Show 2. Watch for deals and discounts as Black Friday rolls around and the holidays draw closer.
The Home Hub is a less costly smart display, but it also does less. The Hub has a smaller screen, fewer video options, no camera, and uncertain audio performance. The Show 2 is the better smart display in terms of what it can do, but the Hub is a good choice if your budget is smaller, you already have a Google Assistant speaker in your home, or are concerned about privacy.