Google Home Hub Review
Google's growing range of Google Assistant powered 'Home' products continues apace with the new Google Home Hub being the latest addition to the range.
The Google Home Hub is a smart hub that integrates a Google Home speaker with a seven inch display bringing more functionality than audio alone can provide. Basically it's an Assistant powered tablet on a speaker stand and it looks cute. There's no in-built battery so it needs to be plugged in permanently and we're disappointed that Google didn't opt for a standard USB-C power connector for flexibility.
Google Assistant has come on leaps and bounds with more integration with smart home devices and smarter, more useful, voice recognition that can chain commands. With the Google Home Hub this all becomes even more focus - it provides a handy visual and tactile hub for your smart home gadgets - rather than asking the device to turn the light on in a room it allows much more granular finger-based control. Accessing smart home functionality is simply achieved by swiping down from the top of the screen.
The display also makes the Google Home Hub a perfect partner for your kitchen - instead of just being given a recipe and step by step instructions, integration with YouTube means that you can SEE how to do the things you need to do. This integration extends to YouTube music if you have a subscription and allows for the playback of music videos alongside your tracks.
The Google Home Hub is also an accomplished digital photo frame with its integration with your Google Photos library allowing you to display specific albums or recent highlights curated by the Photos service. The ambient mode also supports an art gallery with photos, fine art and street art curated by Google or a simple on-screen clock. There is also an experimental mode that provides integrations with Facebook or Flickr at present.
The speaker performance itself is a disappointment - on a par with the Google Home Mini rather than the full-sized Google Home. It's loud enough but lacks the presence and depth of sound that the original Home provides. It's a shame and we can see this being something that Google might well address in future iterations of the Home Hub. There are controls for bass/treble to allow some control over the audio stage but the sound feels lost in the average room.
The Home Hub is dead simple to use - the interface is nicely streamlined and Google's machine learning skills mean it's usually ready to give you the information you need even before you ask. A quick look in the morning will give you information about your day - the weather, upcoming appointments, details on your commute to work and any issues you might have. It's clever stuff.
The seven inch screen is well laid out - with nice chunky, clean visuals making it viewable from a reasonable distance. We rarely wanted or needed a bigger display - it's more of a personal assistant than the larger Echo Show. Again, depending on uptake of the current Home Hub, we can see a larger iteration with a bigger Google Home Max style speaker and a 10 inch screen appearing for sale in the future and there's a good chance it is something that has probably been tinkered with on one of Google's device labs.
We're big fans of Google's Home devices - they might not have the market saturation of Amazon's Echo range, but they're invariably well built and their more open ecosystem of apps and functionality mean that the potential is far greater than the walled Amazon garden. The Home Hub is solid, does almost everything we would expect of it and other than the slightly disappointing audio we heartily recommend it - and at £139 it's really good value for money.