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Google Nest Hub Max vs Google Nest Hub: What are the differences?
Google offers two smart displays for those who want visual flair with their smart home experience: the Nest Hub Max, and the second-generation standard Nest Hub. In the Google Nest Hub Max vs Google Nest Hub battle, which is actually the best choice?
The displays look extremely similar at first glance. The Nest Hub Max has the same overall design as its smaller sibling, including a fabric-covered speaker, and similar (if narrower) color options. The Max’s hardware does include significant upgrades however, such as a camera, a larger 10-inch screen, and a more powerful speaker. Combined these improvements open up new doors for Google’s smart display tech. On the other hand the Nest Hub is much more affordable, and retains most of the features Google smart displays are known for.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the features found in the Google Nest Hub Max vs Google Nest Hub.
Google Nest Hub Max supports Google Duo and Zoom video calling
While every Google smart speaker or display supports audio calls via Google Duo or (in some cases) phone numbers in your Google Contacts, the 127-degree front camera on the Nest Hub Max enables video calls through both Duo and Zoom. In the case of Duo this even includes auto-framing, meaning the camera will zoom and pan as you move around a room. You can wander around a bit and stay in frame, which is very helpful in places like the kitchen.
The second-gen Nest Hub has no camera, just like its direct predecessor. Calls are limited to voice only.
More: The best smart displays
Google Nest Hub Max doubles as a security camera
Thanks to its camera, the Nest Hub Max lets you monitor a room via the Nest app. Just like a Nest Cam (above), you can see event history, enable Home/Away Assist, and get notifications if motion is detected. The Max is also compatible with Nest’s Aware subscription service, which offers continuous video recording and more. For obvious reasons, sans camera, the standard Nest Hub can’t monitor any security.
Get a more personalized experience with Face Match
Personalization isn’t new to Google’s smart displays and speakers, but a camera takes things a bit further. The Face Match feature on the Nest Hub Max recognizes you and provides a more personalized experience, showing only the information that matters to you, such as your messages, reminders, appointments, music/video recommendations, and so forth. Google says that no Face Match data is uploaded to its servers beyond the initial setup.
Look ma, no hands!
Here’s something else a camera helps with. The Google Nest Hub Max includes a Quick Gestures feature, letting you pause and resume media just by looking at it and raising your hand. This is perfect for situations when noise is too loud for Google Assistant to hear you, and/or when your hands are messy and you’d rather not smear the screen.
A bigger, better display makes for a better entertainment experience
Our Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) review noted that its 7-inch display isn’t that great. This isn’t just because it’s small — it also has a less-than-stellar resolution of 1,024 x 600. The 10-inch, 1,280 x 800 panel on the Nest Hub Max is a welcome improvement. More display area doesn’t directly add any features, but it provides a better experience when watching video, or when browsing content in general. It also makes touch controls more comfortable.
What to watch: The best free movies on YouTube
A sound experience that’s a bit closer to the Nest Audio
While the current Nest Hub doesn’t sound bad and has improved since its first incarnation, audio quality is far from a standout feature. The Nest Hub Max, by contrast, packs dual 18mm tweeters and a 75mm woofer. This brings its sound experience closer to par with the Nest Audio, meaning it works well for music, podcasts, and other media.
A couple of things the Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) is better at
The Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) is a newer technology, so there must be something it excels at, right? In fact, it does beat the Nest Hub Max at a couple of things.
For starters, the smaller Nest Hub comes with three microphones instead of two. It should be able to hear you better, and by extension provide a superior audio call experience.
The Nest Hub also comes with a Sleep Sensing feature, which employs a Soli motion sensor, temperature data, and the room’s ambient sound/light levels to analyze certain metrics. These include time asleep, total time in bed, sleep efficiency, and respiratory rate. It can further detect any sleep disturbances you might have, such as snoring or coughing. Data collected was pretty accurate during our testing. It might be a cool feature if you’re worried about your sleep patterns but don’t want to go to bed with a wearable like a Fitbit.
Oh, and the Nest Hub is also available in a couple of extra speaker fabric colors, as we hinted earlier. Options include chalk, charcoal, mist (blue), and sand, whereas the Nest Hub Max is sold only in chalk or charcoal.
Which is better, then?
Ultimately, the Google Nest Hub Max vs Google Nest Hub decision comes down to your intended usage. If you only care about things like smart home control, guided recipes, and getting news and weather updates, both displays offer the same functionality. They’re simply nicer with a bigger display and stronger speaker.
The Nest Hub makes a lot of sense as a cheap kitchen helper. After all, it retails for $100, and often less than that — making it more accessible than the $229 Nest Hub Max. It’s also preferable as a bedside display for its sleep tracking features and smaller footprint.
If you care about entertainment and camera-based calling and security features, though, the Hub Max is probably worth the premium.