Home Tech Geeks Reviews – Google Home Hub Max is better if you use Google Duo for video calls frequently. Credits: zlata ivleva /
The Google Hub Max feels a bit redundant unless you want a bigger screen and camera.
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Google’s Nest Hub Max is a simple device: it’s a larger version of the Nest Hub (née Home Hub) smart display with a 10-inch screen, a camera for video calling via Google Duo, and better speakers.
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If the big display, camera, and great sound seem like features you can skip, but you still want a great digital photo frame, consider the 7-inch Nest Hub. It’s been a year since its launch and I still love how it automatically displays all newly uploaded photos from Google Photos. Not to mention, the Nest Hub costs $129 compared to the $229 Nest Hub Max.
Only get the Nest Hub Max if you plan to use Google Duo for video calling. Otherwise, I don’t think it’s worth spending the extra money. You can get two Nest Hubs or a Nest Hub and two Google Home Minis.
The Nest Hub Max is a smart display that will look pretty familiar if you’ve seen or used the Nest Hub. It’s literally a blown-up version with a 10-inch screen, meaning it still looks like a tiny kiosk-tablet bolted onto cloth-covered speaker stands.
The Nest Hub Max is available in two colors: white and charcoal; Both should be well coordinated with the home furniture. Google told us that they expect people to place the Nest Hub Max in the kitchen or living room but probably not in the bedroom because it has a camera; The Nest Hub, which comes without a camera, is more suitable there.
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I like having a bigger screen—photos, videos, and text are easier to see—but the Nest Hub Max’s resolution could be sharper. The 10-inch screen has a 1,280 x 800 resolution, which gets the job done, but up close, text looks a bit blurry.
Smart display magic happens on the display. There’s a 6.5-megapixel camera with a 127-degree field of view (translation: it’s wide enough to fit a shot), an Ambient EQ sensor that adjusts the display’s lighting to match the room, and two remote microphones to pick up a “Hey Google” voice command.
Sadly, unlike the Lenovo Smart Display, there’s no physical cover that slides over the camera to block it. Instead, you electronically turn off the microphone and camera, and an LED light tells you it’s on. It’s not as promising as Lenovo’s cover, but it’s still good protection for anyone concerned about privacy.
The Nest Hub Max does everything a Nest Hub does and works as well. Everything you can do with your voice on Google Home Mini, Home, Home Max and Nest Hub, you can do with Nest Hub Max.
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Google Assistant is less responsive to the larger smart display and has no problem understanding my voice for weather, smart home control, directions with Google Maps, music, YouTube videos, etc.
The speakers on the Nest Hub Max are clearer and louder than the Nest Hub and sound better than the Google Home. The Google Home Max is still the king of bass and sounds loud, but the Nest Hub Max’s sound quality isn’t as good as in a small apartment.
Sound is better than Google Home and Nest Hub, but not better than Home Max. Credit: ZLATA IVLEVA /
Face Match and Quick Gestures are two great features exclusive to the Nest Hub Max. With Face Match, the camera detects who you are and shows information just for you – great for families where multiple people can use the Nest Hub Max.
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Quick Gesture is a simple hand gesture control. At launch, you can raise your hand in front of the screen to play and pause music, podcasts, videos, and snooze alarms. Google says that in the future, more gestures may be added, but for now, they’re keeping it simple with just one. This is useful if your hands are wet or you don’t like shouting with loud music.
And as a digital photo frame, the Nest Hub Max is just as good as the Nest Hub. Photos taken on your phone and backed up to Google Photos will automatically show up on your Nest Hub Max. And like the Nest Hub, the Smart Display knows how to align some vertical photos, so there are no black bars on the sides, aka pillar box. convenient
The most important addition to the Nest Hub Max is the camera. As I mentioned before, the camera gets a wide view, which means it fits in the frame.
Nest Hub Max uses Google Duo for audio and video calling and works with any iOS or Android device you have installed.
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Audio and video quality is solid. All the friends I called said it was fine, though the microphone picked up background noise. A friend says that while calling Bruce at the office, the sound of drilling in the background is distracting. So, if you’re hoping for background noise cancellation, you won’t be able to.
The camera can zoom, tilt and zoom in to focus people in the frame during video calls. Credits: zlata ivleva /
For video calls, there’s a great trick: auto framing. Like Facebook’s Portal, the Nest Hub Max can pan, tilt and zoom to place people in the center of the frame. If there are more people, the camera zooms out to fit everyone. You can turn off auto framing, but I found it quite useful and more responsive than a similar feature in Portal, so I left it off.
Video calls are great, but again, only if you use Google Duo. If you use FaceTime, Skype, Instagram Direct, WhatsApp or other video calling apps, you won’t get much mileage out of the Nest Hub Max.
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Personally, I don’t know many people who use Google Duo and finding people who can test the feature is a challenge. But if you can get friends or family to use Google Duo, the Nest Hub Max is a great video calling device.
The camera doubles as a Nest Cam (you’ll need to switch from your Nest account to your Google account to use it) and you get almost all the same features as the standalone Nest Cam. It works, but I wouldn’t call it a killer feature.
There are a lot more smart displays to choose from today than there were a year or two ago. As Google’s smart speaker/display, the Nest Hub Max sits between the Nest Hub and the Home Max:
The 7-inch Nest Hub is the only smart display without a camera. As you can see, the Nest Hub Max is quite competitive. It has a 10-inch display and costs the same as the 10-inch Echo Show and less than the Lenovo 10-inch Smart Display.
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What does the Nest Hub Max offer? Do you want a bigger screen, camera and louder sound? Probably not.
There is value in small smart displays with cameras. Privacy, obviously. However, a more compact smart display is more suitable in the kitchen, on a bookshelf or on a table. So if you don’t use Google Duo a lot or watch a lot of videos while cooking, I’d get the Nest Hub. It is a good value.
Raymond Wang is a senior tech reporter. He reviews tech gadgets and toys and analyzes the tech industry. Raymond is a bit of a camera geek, a gamer and a great chocolate lover. Before arriving at , he was deputy editor of DVICE, NBC Universal’s technology publication. His writing has appeared on G4TV,
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