Sound signature

sound
  • Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – none
  • Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – creeping in at 93Hz
  • High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – decline to flat
  • Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
  • Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat
  • High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat
  • Low-treble: 2-4kHz – declining
  • Treble: 4-6kHz – declining
  • High Treble: 6-10kHz – declining
  • Dog whistle: 10-20 – declining to 16kHz then off the cliff

It is a ‘wannabe’ warm and sweet signature (bass/mid boosted, treble recessed) – the nirvana for music – but it is more mid-centric to ensure clearer voice. I tried with a bass-heavy Blues Brothers Peter Gunn Theme, and vocal/instrumental The Beach Boys Help Me Rhonda and both were pleasant enough as a house speaker.

Like most Google Assistant speakers, it uses Google Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, supports BT 5.0 pairing with a smartphone or PC and Chromecast.

The Google Nest Hub Max makes no noise when not in use.

Screen

Early reviews say 1280 x 800 resolution is not enough. Indeed if you want a higher resolution of 1920×1200 (and higher volume and a better sound signature) then head straight to the Google Assistant-enabled Lenovo 10-inch Smart Screen which is $279. All it lacks in comparison is the gesture and face ID feature.

After a few days of use, I really don’t think the resolution is a deal-breaking issue. A 10-inch, 149ppi, screen, usually viewed from a metre or more away is fine for YouTube, Google Duo video calling and as a picture album.

photo album

Google do not publish brightness or contrast. We measured a maximum of 220 nits – lower than an IPS monitor but enough to be daylight readable in your kitchen and not enough to be an annoyance at night. It does not appear to have a blue light issue showing white as warm white around 3000° K.

In any case, its ambient light sensor (on auto) adjusts the screen light very well – a little too well as we tested it in the bedroom, and it was trying to keep up with the TV going from light to dark in milliseconds. If you have such a variable light source, use manual brightness settings.

It also supports Google Play Books and Chromecast. While we would all love Netflix and other streaming sources, this screen and processor/GPS are not compatible.

Camera

Considering a Google Nest Cam has a 3MP, 1080p camera we got all excited at the Nest Hub Max camera at 6.5MP. Alas, it only shoots at 720p – even a 1MP sensor can do that.

We suspect it shoots at a much higher resolution, but the 127° FOV, gesture recognition, and digital zoom (auto-framing focuses on you as you move around the room) means the camera crops the finished image to 720p.

It also seems to have good low light capabilities reflecting either pixel binning (as Google does with its Pixel smartphones) or very larger pixels (say 4 to 5um). As it lacks the AI CPU/GPU/NPU horsepower to pixel bin, we suspect it uses large pixels. The effect is evident in remote Nest Cam video where considerable ‘noise’ is evident (the larger the pixel, the more noise it injects in low-light video).

In any case, the screen only supports HD standard whatever it does with the extra MPs is immaterial.

A neat trick of the Hub Max is you can leave a video message (in Duo) or broadcast to other Google Assistant speakers or screens.

messages

Note: To use the security features of Nest Cam you need a Google Nest subscription.

Gestures

You can play/pause content by holding your palm up to the camera. This saves sticky fingers all over the screen.