A Look at the Google Home Hub

Having escaped with a narrow victory in our Amazon Echo vs. Google Home comparison article, Google has, just days later, improved one of the areas which we thought they had been lacking: Hardware options. The Google Home Hub looks to answer those who want the most out of a smart home speaker, and also introduce what may become a new standard in managing your connected home. How does Google intend to do this? Find out in our Look at the Google Home Hub!

Design and Hardware

Design and Hardware

The Google Home Hub fits right in with the style and overall aesthetic of the other Google Home devices. The 7” touchscreen is mounted in front of a speaker that is wrapped in the familiar fabric we’ve seen with the other Google Home products, giving it a classy and stylish look that can integrate with most home décor and not stick out like a sore thumb as some Echo devices would. The fabric and back side of the panel are available in four colors - chalk, charcoal, sand, and aqua, although no matter which color you choose, the bezel surrounding the touch screen remains white.

Along the top of the display, in between two far-field microphones, is the Ambient EQ light sensor, which might not seem like such a big deal at first since anyone with a smartphone is familiar with screens that dim based on ambient light. This Ambient EQ sensor is a bit different. Not only does it detect light, but color as well, and adjusts the screen color and brightness so that it appears to reflect the ambient colors around the Google Home Hub. The result is an image that doesn’t immediately appear to be an LCD, and when the device is not in use and is displaying photos, it appears to be a frame holding a printed photograph.

Nearly as intriguing as what’s included on the Google Home Hub is what's missing - a camera. Whether it’s to temper privacy concerns or to simply leave room for improvements on the next iteration of home hub, you won’t find a camera on this device, which means anyone thinking of picking one up for making video calls will be out of luck.

Smart Home Hub

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Compared

If there’s one feature of the Google Home Hub that is most likely to cause waves in the industry and will probably be the main selling point for most Google Home Hub buyers, it’s the smart home dock that is accessed by swiping down on the screen.

Smart home devices like Wi-Fi enabled thermostats, power outlets, lights, cameras, door locks, etc., are nothing new, but anyone who has more than one of these devices in their home knows that they can be a pain to manage. Each manufacturer has their own app and their own settings, and moving seamlessly between devices is virtually non-existent, at least up until now.

Google Home Hub looks to solve all of this by placing controls for all of these devices and more in one single interface, which is always just one swipe away if your devices are one of the over 5000 devices from over 400 brands that are supported by the Google Home Hub.

If you’ve got a high-tech home of the future and enjoy the convenience and cool-factor of connected home devices, Google Home Hub will likely fit nicely into your home tech.

Google Assistant

Google Assistant

Thanks to Google Home devices, we’re no stranger to the conveniences of having Google Assistant on the ready, but Google Home Hub looks to take that to the next level by adding a couple of new and interesting features afforded by the included 7” display.

The most obvious is the ability to display YouTube videos at a moment’s notice with the same voice commands you’re accustomed to if you’ve used Google Assistant before. But, less obvious are the various niceties that Google has integrated to try and let the Home Hub become more of an integral part of your daily routine rather than a parlor trick or entertainment shortcut.

If you use Google Home Hub as an alarm clock in your bedroom, the screen will simulate a sunrise leading up to your alarm going off, helping you wake up less abruptly. Greeting the Home Hub with “Hey Google, Good Morning!” will prompt the hub to give you news, weather, traffic reports, and an overview of your agenda while also triggering various other smart home devices like turning on or off lights or fans.

Throughout the day, any alerts generated by your Ring cameras and doorbells will automatically start a live video feed on your home hub. In between video feeds or other activities, the Home Hub will display a clock, the weather, and your favorite photos.

And at the end of your day, saying “Hey Google, Goodnight!” will dim the screen, set your alarms, lower your thermostat, again trigger any smart home devices you want shut off, or perform any other smart home activities you want to happen at bedtime.

Pricing and Final Thoughts

To say that Google is pricing the Home Hub aggressively is a bit of an understatement. At $149, the Home Hub is a mere $20 more than the Google Home, while doing everything the Home does and more. With the Home Hub’s surprisingly diminutive physical size, no integrated camera, and included 6 months of YouTube Music Premium, it seems like a bit of a no-brainer for most to spring for the Google Home Hub over the Google Home speaker.

With the Google Home Hub being a brand new device for Fall 2018, it remains to be seen if there will be any Black Friday discounts on Google’s new home helper. If there are, you can count on BFAds to be the first to break any news on discounts on the Home Hub or the multitude of home speakers that are destined to be under trees across the country this holiday season.

October 12, 2018
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