Google Home Hub and Me

I recently picked up a Google Home Hub.  I’ve loved all the Google Home devices that I have throughout my house and one with a display seemed even better.  I wasn’t sure whether it’d add any value to my collection, but for $150, it was worth a shot.

Unboxing

Google Home Hub Box

True to Google’s form, there isn’t much included in the box.  You get the Google Home Hub device itself, a power cord, and some quick-start instructions.  I’m not sure what else I’d expect to receive with the device, but I appreciate that the packaging is simple and straight to the point.

On its own, the device is a little awkward.  From the side, the device looks like a tablet glued onto a speaker.  Depending on where you’re placing your Home Hub, it might look a little odd.  I’ve put mine in a spot that happens to have picture frames, so all I see from it is the front screen.

Google Home Hub Side

From the front, though, the view is excellent.

Display

Google Home Hub Front

My favorite part of this device is the screen.  Google really hit it out of the park with this display.  When it’s just sitting on my desktop, it looks like a picture frame.  When you set the device up, it allows you to select the photos you want displayed.  This definitely relies on you using Google Photos for your picture backup.  In my case, I was able to select a bunch of my Family and Friends.  You have some additional options, such as Curated images and artwork, a Fullscreen clock, or what they call “Experimental” which is Facebook and Flickr albums.

You can also select whether or not you want to show the Time, Weather, and additional Photo data such as who took the photo and what album it’s from.

I can’t emphasize enough how perfect the lighting is on the display.  If you didn’t know it was a smart display, it really would just look like a picture frame.  There is an ambient light sensor on the front that is constantly adjusting how bright or how dark the display is relative to the environment it’s in.  When the lights are off, within a second it dims to match the lighting of the room.

Google Home Hub Dark

When the lights in the room are completely off, the display brightness is completely off.  I was concerned about it being another bright object in our living room, but you can’t even tell it’s there when the lights are off.

Utility

At first, we didn’t use it any differently than we’d used our Google Home Mini.  It played music like my other devices.  It listened to my smart home commands like my other devices.  It just happened to also display pictures, and weather, and time while doing all of that.

The device does come with a touch screen that includes a whole bunch of other options.  Upon initial touch, you are presented with the weather and a list of your calendar events.

Google Home Hub Weather

My family prefers to use a white board calendar, so I don’t utilize Google Calendar.  I’d imagine if we did, though, it’d be extremely handy being able to view all of our upcoming events.

If you swipe to the right using the touchscreen, you are presented with some additional capabilities.

Google Home Hub Options

You can play movies from the device, watch YouTube videos, cast from your phone right to it, and a lot of other stuff that I haven’t even begun to touch on.  If you scroll all the way to the right, you’re presented with a box that lets you “Explore more things your Assistant can do”.

Google Home Hub Options

The options become a bit more generic, but it’s a good way to get a feeling for everything it’s capable of.

Google Home Hub vs Google Home

So the question comes down to whether or not it’s worth getting the Home Hub over the Google Home.  The Google Home will cost you $129, while the Google Home Hub is $149.  You’re getting the same Google Assistant capabilities between the two, but the Home Hub offers you an interactive screen.  The form factor of the Home Hub requires you to give it more space, while the Google Home blends in a lot better.

My verdict is that the Google Home Hub is worth the additional $20, if you want to put it in a spot that utilizes the screen.  The Google Home works perfectly in my Sunroom, where it acts as a smart speaker to play music for my daughter.  The Google Home Hub works perfectly in my living room, where it acts as a smart speaker that can also display family photos alongside our regular picture frames.  It also excels in the Kitchen, where we can use it to display recipes when cooking lunch and dinner.

Samsung SmartThings Integration

Just like my other Google Home devices, it integrates perfectly with my Samsung SmartThings setup.  Using voice commands I can do anything else that the Google Home can do.  With the Home Hub, I’m also offered an interactive display that lets me fine tune what I want it to do.

Google Home Hub Lighting Control

Summary

The Google Home Hub is an excellent buy at $149.  It integrates well with the Google ecosystem and provides more of a personal touch to the smart device category.  The screen and light calibration are excellent, allowing it to display all your family photos without standing out as a bright digital device among all of your other photo frames.

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