The Google Home Hub is the latest Google Assistant in the ‘Made By Google’ stable. It adds a video component to voice control for functionality that you probably did not know you needed.
Like all things Google – its Assistant is open to all manufacturers, and there is a range of OK Google Speakers (GadgetGuy shootout here) and now Lenovo, JBL and more are introducing their video versions.
It is hard to review an OK Google speaker as they all do the same things. I won’t repeat that. You can read what it does here. It’s best to think of it as a voice-driven ecosystem that can answer questions, set alarms/timers, look up recipes, control a smart home and more. It is evolving to become a personal assistant with AI enabling it to think, or at least support your thinking.
Review: Google Home Hub
The Google Home hub is a 7”, 1024 x 600 colour touchscreen speaker an ambient light sensor and two far-field mics. It has Wi-Fi AC and Bluetooth 5 connectivity. The audio codecs include HE/LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV, Opus and FLAC (24-bit/96KHz). Bluetooth supports SBC codec (not high-res sound). There is one mono speaker that Google calls ‘full-range for crystal clear sound”. We suspect it is the same speaker/amp as found in the Google Home.
It comes in Sand, Aqua, Chalk and Charcoal colours and costs $219. Size is 118 x 67 x 179mm x 480g. A 1.5m, 15W power charger – not battery operated completes it.
The term ‘hub’ is a misnomer as it does not have a smart home controller like the Amazon Alexa Plus. We think that this is a good thing as smart homes need dedicated multi-format Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity – let this video speaker do what it does best.
Ultra-easy. Like all Google Assistant devices, you plug it into power, open the Google Home app, it finds the device, and you are good to go. If you have not used the Google Home app before it is just as easy to set up and link to music, movies and other services.
The ambient sensor adjusts the screen light and tone so you can use it as an alarm clock at night or ramps light up if it is in a bright room.
What does a screen add to an OK Google speaker?
You can create a slideshow of selected memories from your Google Photos albums. Select one or more of the following:
- Family and friends: People and pets that you’d like to see in your photos. (this option will only show if you have face clusters in Google Photos, and the Google Photos app installed)
- Recent highlights: Your best recent images automatically. (this option will only show if you have high-quality recent photos in Google Photos)
- Favourites: Displays photos marked as Favourites. (this option will only show If you have at least four photos marked as Favourites)
- Specific albums: Select albums that you’d like to see on Google Home Hub.
- Art Gallery: Select from curated images and artwork.
- Full-Screen Clock: Choose from a selection of full-screen clock faces.
These display in the Ambient mode when it is not in use.
“Hey Google, good morning”, Hub can control the lights, music, or other smart appliances and can give you updates like your morning commute, upcoming appointments, stock prices and news. It’s also helpful when you arrive home: you can set up Google Home Hub so that “Hey Google, I’m home” means lights go on, you get your reminder to wish Mum happy birthday, Triple J starts playing on all speakers, and your fans starts in the living room. The Google Assistant allows you to create your own Routines or pick from commonly used ones already set up in the app.
Routines are a standard part of Google Assistant – having a visual interface can make it easier to set up.
Manage other OK Google devices
Swipe down to see what other devices there are and manage them. For example, if you have smart lights you can swipe down and turn them on, change colours etc.
Alternatively, you can cast music to a larger speaker – although this does a pretty good job too. An overview of OK Google compatible devices is here.