The Digital Home Magazine

Smart tech reviews, how-to's and more

The search engine giant Google has its first Smart Display presented to Google Home Hub. The device has a relatively small 7-inch display, two far-field microphones for recording voice commands to the Google Assistant and an integrated full-range loudspeaker. The strengths of the device lie in the cooperation with Google Assistant-compatible smart home devices and the visualization of instructions via video. Google uses its own streaming platform YouTube. However, there is no integrated video camera for video calls such as Zoom.

Google's first smart display, the Google Home Hub is basically a smart speaker with a 7-inch touch display. In addition to voice control with Google's voice assistant, Google Assistant, there is also the familiar “fingertip” operating concept. This simplifies the selection of search results, for example, if the voice assistant presents several hits on the display to choose from.

The Google Home Hub only becomes interesting as a smart home control device. The smart display clearly shows all Google Assistant-compatible smart home devices. The user no longer must switch back and forth between different apps. Of course, Google Home Hub offers a particularly successful integration of its own Smart Home brand Nest. For example, the video stream of the Nest Hello Video doorbell can be transmitted directly to the Google Home Hub.

With its display, Google Home Hub offers new service functions, such as the video display of cooking recipes. To do this, the Smart Display uses the video streaming platform YouTube - an advantage over an Amazon Echo Show or the Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet, which do not support YouTube.

Two far-field microphones are built into the Google Home Hub so that the Google Assistant voice assistant can record, and answer questions and the display show visual information. However, users will miss a built-in video camera, such as the Echo Show or the Fire HD 8, which is comparable in price to Google Home Hub, which can also be converted from a tablet into a mobile smart display with the Fire HD 8 Show mode charging dock. The advantage of a video cam built into the smart display: users can use video call. With Google Duo, the search engine giant would have already had a free video conferencing solution in its portfolio.

Special features of the Google Home Hub:

  • Voice control and access from Google Photos, such as playing albums as slideshows
  • Automatic brightness adjustment to the environment, thanks to the integrated Ambilight sensor
  • Coordinated with YouTube Music Videos, but also works with other music streaming services such as Spotify

Since Google Home Hub has integrated the Google Assistant voice assistant, all Google Assistant-compatible smart home devices can be controlled by voice with the intelligent display speaker.

Advantages of the Google Home Hub

  • The display regulates the brightness automatically and switches off at night
  • Cheap price
  • Better overview of assistance functions
  • Visual integration of smart home devices

Disadvantages of the Google Home Hub in the test overview

  • No camera
  • Small display

Google Nest Hub versus Nest Hub Max

First the basics, how does the Nest Hub Max differ from the Nest Hub? There is the sheer size of the display, which grows from 7 to 10 inches. This extra space also gives the speakers an upgrade. In addition, the Nest Hub Max has a camera that the smaller brother completely lacks. This is central to many of the functions that make up the Nest Hub Max.

Otherwise, the devices work very similarly. After all, the Google Assistant is at the core of all functionality here and there. The Nest Hub Max has another exciting function under the hood: a proximity sensor. Google has been developing this for years, and now it is being used in the first devices such as the Pixel 4. This should allow fine gesture control, for example you simply turn an imaginary button in front of your device to increase the volume.

Does the Camera bring many new functions?

Yes, strictly speaking, only the screen is bigger, and the camera is new. But Google uses this to the maximum extent possible. Individual control thanks to facial recognition video calls via Google Duo or the secondary function as a Nest Cam, i.e. a security camera: The Nest Hub Max enables all of this. The latter could be decisive for many who are considering an indoor one anyway.

In short, the Nest Hub Max is very correctly named. Overall, it is larger than the Google Nest Hub and has more functions without changing the basic way of working.

Smart home centre with face recognition

The camera of the Nest Hub Max makes it possible to differentiate people not only by voice, but also by face. A great feature especially for households with several people who organize appointments, reminders and other things via Google accounts.

If the Nest Hub Max recognizes you and if you say, for example, “Hey Google, put my hairdresser appointment in my calendar”, the assistant will automatically save the appointment in your calendar and not that of your wife or children.

To activate Face Match, you first create a profile of your face. This is saved locally and never leaves the device. Face recognition works using on-device machine learning that does not require a connection to a cloud.

Otherwise, the Hub Max sees itself as a hub - i.e. as the central point and control centre of your smart home. From there you control your smart thermostats, lights or speakers. At its core, it is the well-known assistant in the form of a Google Home with an additional display.

The Nest Hub Max fulfils most of the functions described as it should. In the kitchen (like all smart displays) it is great as a cooking aid or for a multimedia start to the day. In the living room, it is the smart home centre and focal point in the room.

The screen is great and - if you have activated the automatic control - it blends in perfectly with the environment. This is probably because Google explicitly had the function as a digital picture frame in mind.

The sound is also great. Of course, it does not keep up with the sound quality of dedicated smart speakers like those from Sonos. Compared to a Google Home, the sound of the Nest Hub Max is pleasantly clear, even if it feels a bit weak in the base.

The smart home control works without any problems. You simply swipe from above on the screen, then a bar opens with the most important functions such as lights or thermostats.

Control with gestures

Sometimes there are more functions available through the Nest Hub Max than through the Google Home app. For example, you can control the temperature of your smart radiator thermostats from Tado using the Google Assistant. To get them back on a schedule you must go into the Tado app.

The Google Home Max comes with a function with which you can set the thermostats to "Smart Schedule". This will bring you back to the predefined schedule.

The Nest Hub Max is playing music, suddenly a call comes in. Simply raise your hand in the manner of a stop, the playback pauses, and you can make a relaxed phone call. This is possible thanks to a new proximity sensor, which can also be found in Google's Pixel 4.

It is important that you must look at the screen and raise your hand at the same time. This is to prevent the device from issuing incorrect commands. So far, however, these "quick gestures" have only been limited to the flat of the hand, i.e. start and stop.

The Google Nest Hub Max is very appropriately named. From the moment it was unpacked, the display was the central point in the room.

The screen was big enough to see the information from a few meters away (on the couch). Anyway, the screen. As a digital picture frame, it does what it promises. This subtle presence should not be underestimated, as the Nest Hub Max is usually switched on permanently. The automatic control of brightness and colour temperature worked perfectly.

On the one hand, there is the immobility of the device. Especially because it works so wonderfully as a hub in the living room and as a smart screen in the kitchen. If you want to have both comfortably, you must buy two devices. On the other hand: The Nest Hub Max is just a smart display, not a tablet with a docking station (even if it looks like it).

Is the Google Nest Hub Max worth it?

The Google Nest Hub Max is perfect for moving around your house. It is one of those classic smart home devices that, strictly speaking, you do not need - but that you never want to give up again once you have used it you. Therefore, the Nest Hub Max is initially something for all first users who like new technology. The usefulness of the Google Nest Hub Max in a household with several people is evident - if you activate settings such as Face Match. You should also seriously consider the device if you are considering updating your Google Home anyway.

With the Nest Hub Max, you get a beautiful control centre for your smart home, packed with many other functions.

Wink Hub 2 - A Smart Home Hub equipped for the future

The Wink Hub 2 is the new version of a real crowd-pleaser. Equipped with all important wireless standards such as Z-Wave and ZigBee, the hub in the smart home communicates with devices from various manufacturers. In this way, everything fits together seamlessly into a bigger whole: The Z-Wave temperature sensor shares its data with the Bluetooth-supported radiator thermostat and the WLAN lights can be controlled together with the ZigBee lights.

Even the first version of the Wink Hub was a real crowd-pleaser. In the second iteration, the device can convince in many details. So, the newcomer now comes with an Ethernet connection and is a bit slimmer and prettier. A larger internal memory and encryption technology that protects the smart home against external attacks round off the package. The focus in the development of the new hub was clearly on the radio protocols, Hub 2 masters all the standards of the latest generation.

Starting with the WLAN network, the new hub can no longer only transmit via the usual 2.4 GHz frequency, which can be overloaded, especially in apartment buildings. What is new is the ability to send and receive data even in the less frequented 5GHz range. This ensures more flexibility and higher data throughput. Also new is support for the increasingly widespread Bluetooth LE, with which numerous new gadgets are coming onto the market. As with its predecessor, the widespread standards WLAN, Z-Wave, ZigBee, Kidde and Lutron Clear are still on board. The new, upright hardware design is also intended to increase the range of the wireless connection.

Hub and app go hand in hand

The new Hub 2 from Wink can be put into operation in next to no time. Simply connect to the power supply and follow the instructions in the associated smartphone app step by step. Like its predecessor, the Hub 2 can either be operated via WLAN or via a wired Internet connection. Once connected to the network, the Wink app finds the hub automatically - and everything is ready for use.

Together with the hub, the manufacturer Wink has also revised the app for iOS and Android devices. The new features were enthusiastically received by the users. The changes include a completely redesigned user interface, which now makes it much easier to control devices and set rules.


The Google Home Hub wins here, as it comes with the option of The Google Nest and Google Nest Hub. It also has a lot more functionality than the Wink 2 and is easier to set up and use.

However, it is down to the user to decide which works best for them.

The advantage of the Wink 2 is it integrates seamlessly into a single network and can exchange information and works with multiple manufactures which means you aren’t tied into using a single product, you could use the Philips Hue Lamps and Alexa.

We would suggest that when you are deciding which product to purchase choose the one that will work best for your household day to day and one that is user friendly depending on your technical knowledge.