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Google Nest Hub Max Review: First Look

As requested, Google has made a larger smart display with a built-in camera. We've take a look a the Nest Hub Max.

Should I Buy The Google Nest Hub Max?
It might only be available in two colours but Google has brought the two things we asked for to the Nest Hub Max - a larger screen and a camera.

That camera can do a lot more than make video calls, too.


Price When Reviewed
  • £229
As well as new Pixel 3a phones, Google has used its I/O developer conference to announce another smart display. Now branded with the Nest name, we've taken a look a the Nest Hub Max.

We loved the Home Hub when we reviewed it last year and still do, but it was a shame that Google didn't offer a larger option with a built-in camera. Well that's exactly what the Nest Hub Max offers so we're rather pleased.

Before we begin it's worth explaining that the branding is now 'Google Nest' with the two coming together. Google has owned Nest for five years now and they thought it was about time to use the names together.

The Hub Max combines Google and Nest technology so it makes sense, apart from the slightly lengthy product name.

Note: We've called this a first look instead of a hands-on because Google demonstrated the device to us extensively, but we only had a very brief play with it ourselves.

Price & Availability
The Nest Hub Max will arrive on 15 July so there's a little wait before you can buy it. You can join the waiting list ow, however.

When it does go on sale, it will cost £219 or $229. The regular Home Hub, now known as Google Nest Hub, will also be available for a lower price of £119 – it was previously £139.

It's perhaps no coincidence that the Hub Max price is the same as its key rival, the Amazon Echo Show. There are also other rivals such as the JBL Link View and Lenovo Smart Display, both of which are more expensive.

Design & Build
As you might expect, the Nest Hub Max is essentially just a super sized version of the regular Home Hub.

So the headline here is that you get a larger screen. It's 10in vs 7in but feels like a bigger jump in real life. This will give you a nice amount of extra real estate to see what you're doing, especially handy if you want to view the Hub from a distance.

The firm has stuck with the same style and combination of materials including fabric. The idea is that it's like a floating display you can place almost anywhere in the house. It's simple and elegant so didn't need changing.

On the back is just a volume rocker and a switch to deactivate the microphones and camera in one go. LEDs indicate whether things are in use or not.

The larger base also means more room for speakers, which we'll talk about later.

This time around there are only two colours to choose from: Chalk and Charcoal. That means you can't get one to match your Sand or Aqua Hub if you have one. Either way, the bezel around the screen is white and is still a little bit chunky. We think it would look better in black but it's not the end of the world.

Specs & Features
We asked for a bigger screen and we got it. This 10in display, as we've mentioned, feels huge compared to the 7in Home Hub. It will be great if you watch a lot of video or didn't even buy the older one because of it's size.

The display is has an HD resolution (1280x720) which isn't that high for a modern device so we'd prefer Full HD but it somehow doesn't look that bad either. The ambient EQ light sensor remains so the screen can adjust automatically to the conditions.

It helps the screen blend into the background a little rather than standing out, giving is a slightly glossy photo quality rather than an actual screen. It is of course, touch sensitive so you can interact with your finger instead of just voice.

The other key thing here is the introduction of a camera, and there's a lot more to it than just being able to make video calls – although you can indeed make them with Google Duo.

It's actually a Nest Cam with a wide 127 degree field of vision and various tricks up its sleeve. For starters it can intelligently follow you around the room if you move by cropping and zooming the image.

Because it's a Nest Cam you can use the Hub Max like a security camera, logging into it when you're not at home. A green LED will show that the camera is being accessed for transparency. If you subscribe to Nest Aware then you can get the camera to record, as well.

There are more things the camera can do including being used for gestures like pausing music or videos. Just hold your hand close to the lens.

The software is also able to recognise different users with their face – up to 6 different people – so that each person using the Max can get a personal experience rather than the display simply be set up for one account. It works even from across the room.

With the merging of Google Nest, existing Nest customers will be given the opportunity to swap over to a Google account.
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As mentioned earlier, the Nest Hub Max has more space for speakers due to its larger size. So it's got a 2.1 system for much more oomph than it's smaller brother. Google's demo, even at about volume eight out of 10 sounded significantly better than the regular Home Hub. We doubt it can beat the JBL Link View in this area though.

There's no need to worry about battery life because the Nest Hub Max plugs into the mains. It's not designed to be moved around.

Early Verdict
We're really excited about the Google Nest Hub Max. Google has address the two things we didn't like about the original Home Hub: a larger screen and a camera.

It costs more money, but you're getting a lot more this time around including better audio and the camera can do a lot more than just make video calls.

The price matches the Amazon Echo Show, so there's little to dislike at the moment. Hopefully it works as advertised when we try it properly.

Specs
  • Google Assistant
  • 10in LCD touchscreen, 720p
  • Nest Cam with 127 degree FoV
  • 2 far-field mics
  • EQ light sensor
  • Dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 2.1 speakers
  • Colours: Chalk, Charcoal

View my Flipboard Magazine.

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