Google Nest Hub review
Google is no stranger to producing smart speakers with built-in screens, but what it has come up with now certainly takes things to a whole new level. The latest Nest Hub may look a lot like its predecessor, but it gets one big upgrade that can have serious health benefits. That’s because in this device is tucked away sleep-sensitive technology that watches over you at night to see how much eye you get. The big question is, can a smart speaker really be that good at tracking sleep or is it just a bit of an eerie gimmick? There was only one way to find out, so Express.co.uk’s technology editor David Snelling put it on his nightstand and put it to the test.
GOOGLE NEST HUB REVIEW
When Google’s new Nest Hub arrived in the post, I was pretty excited. For some odd reason, I haven’t been getting the best night’s sleep lately, and the chance to check out a gadget that could reveal why my sleep is being disrupted was too good an opportunity to decline.
Right out of the box, the Nest Hub looks pretty identical to its predecessor, which isn’t a bad thing as it still looks neat and elegant enough to fit into even the most stylish of homes.
You’ll find a 7-inch screen and the usual speaker in the rear enclosure, but where things are different with the 2021 model is the sleep-sensitive technology.
Before disclosing all about my bedroom antics, it’s worth pointing out that Google hasn’t put any cameras in the new Nest Hub, and the company has confirmed to Express.co.uk that there will never be bedtime data to its servers are sent. So if you have nightmares about Google looking at you when your eyes are closed, this should address some of those concerns.
If you’re totally freaked out by the whole idea, you can turn off sleep detection altogether – but if you’re willing to give it a try, it actually works pretty well.
The Google Nest Hub has a 7-inch screen
Not only does the speaker help you fall asleep by dimming the screen and even playing relaxing music, but when you wake up from sleep there is a full report on how well you slept.
Just say the words “Okay Google, how did I sleep?” and the talkative assistant will reveal to you the time in bed, how much snoring and coughing has occurred, and whether you’ve had the recommended dose of snooze time.
There is also a simple guide showing how cold and light the room gets at night, which are all factors for a good night’s sleep between the sheets.
Google does all of this through its clever Soli sensor technology, and since there is no physical camera in this speaker, it doesn’t feel as obtrusive when placed next to your bed.
Another nice feature is the Sunrise Alarm that gently brightens the screen and plays a sound at an increasingly higher volume level. This is much better than getting a horrible shock at 6:45 AM when your phone’s alarm starts blaring a horrible tune.
The Google Nest Hub shows how much sleep you have had
You will receive information about how long you sleep at night
It’s all smart stuff, but after using it for a few weeks I’m both impressed and slightly baffled with the Nest Hub’s sleep data.
Yes, I found out how many closed eyes I got, whether it was disturbed or soothing, and how long I snore each night.
That’s nice to know, but the problem is, I can probably guess all of that from my own behavior. Without a device next to my bed, I am fully aware of whether I went to bed too late or woke up too early. My wife is also pretty good at revealing my snoring levels, so I’m not sure how useful the Nest Hub really is.
It would be great if it felt the room was too cold and pump up the heating or give you a boost when you start snoring … but it can’t.
Google Nest Hub review
We would also like it if the Hub could explain why you are not sleeping well. Is it stress, eating late, drinking too much alcohol, not comfortable enough in bed? Again, there’s no way Google can know, which means that the speaker can’t really give the kind of advice that will really make you feel less tired.
There’s also the fact that Google may start charging for this feature in the future, with the company saying it’s only currently free until next year. There are some nice ideas about the Nest Hub for sure, but I really think there is a way to go until this tech is a must-have for diving next to your bed.
Away from sleep sensing technology, the Nest Hub is quite similar to the original and that’s no bad thing as you’ll be treated to a very good 7-inch screen that displays a ton of useful information. Ask Google just about anything and you will get an intelligent answer. You can also tune in to Netflix, YouTube and Disney + content and watch daily news reports from services such as the BBC.
Like all smart speakers, timers can be set, lights can be dimmed, playlists played and the heating turned up just by asking Google.
Google Nest Hub is available in a number of colors
The new sensors in the screen also allow you to communicate with the speaker without actually touching it. For example, when the alarm goes off, you can just raise your hand and stop the sound.
There is also a nice touch for all Google Photo users with your most precious family albums on the screen – kind of like a digital photo frame.
It’s all very good and the images on the screen really help improve the usefulness of these popular smart speakers.
Google has also beefed up the sound credentials of its latest Nest Hub, with things now about 50 percent louder than before. It’s nice to see that the speaker has been improved, but it’s certainly not one of the strongest features as the sound is a bit muddy and contains no real bass.
If we had one more criticism, that would be the responsiveness of the screen as it feels pretty slow when trying to scroll through menus and settings.
NEST HUB FINAL JUDGMENT
PROS Great smart features • Sleep tracking works well • Reasonable price
Cons Sleep tracking could cost money in the future • Sound could be better
There are loads to like the new Nest Hub, with Google improving its features and keeping the price below £ 90. For your money, you get that 7-inch screen, a plethora of smart features, and that ability to track your nighttime sleep.
That bedtime monitoring is pretty smart because it is done without having to attach extra gadgets to your body.
Our only real problem is we’re not sure if the data it provides will help you get a better night’s sleep.
Yes, over time you can find out if your sleep patterns are healthy and the snoring monitor can explain why your partner always seems so angry in the morning, but it won’t tell you exactly why you’re sleeping well or badly.
Maybe that will come in the future, and it may be necessary if Google really starts charging users for sleep tracking next year.
At just £ 80, the new Nest Hub is a great little smart speaker, it’s up to you whether you put it next to your bed.
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