Google’s 2nd generation NestHub smart display includes radar-based sleep tracking to keep Amazon’s Alexa away.
The new Nest Hub is priced at 89.99 at launch, cheaper than its predecessor and slightly below its competitors of similar size.
The second generation unit has the same design as the original unit, but is slightly taller. The 7-inch LCD screen looks great and is clear enough to display over arm length, making it ideal for use as a digital photo frame. The body is made of recycled plastic and the screen is covered with edgeless glass for easy wiping.
The display is mounted on a fabric foot with loudspeakers that have 50% more bass than previous models. It sounds better than the Nest Mini, but not as powerful as the Nest Audio and similar sized speakers.
Tap the air in front of the display to pause the music, or wave your hand with an alarm to snooze.Photo: Samuel Gibbs / Guardian
New features in Nest Hub are ultrasonic sensors and Google Soli miniature radar sensors. These sensors provide advanced functionality without the privacy impact of having a camera. Ultrasound is used to detect when a person is near and increase the size of the text when they are far away.
Soli tracks the movement of two functions. The first is motion sense. It was first introduced on Pixel 4 smartphones in 2019, allowing you to track hand gestures to pause music and mute alarms. The second is sleep tracking.
The sleep sensation display can give you an overview of your sleep after waking up, or you can see everything in the Google Fit app on Android or iOS.Photo: Samuel Gibbs / Guardian
Nest Hub uses radar to track the breathing patterns and sleep of the person lying next to it, without the need for a wrist or headband. Place it on a bedside table about arm-length away and go to bed as usual.
The device records your sleep time, restlessness, and, optionally, the number of times you cough or snore using a microphone. The data is processed locally on the hub using built-in artificial intelligence, but it syncs with Google’s long-standing medical service, Fit, so you can see the data on your smartphone. You can’t opt out of syncing your data with Google Fit, but you can delete it or share it with other services.
The display also shows a summary of your sleep last night or last week. The results were surprisingly good, recording sleep time and disability similar to both Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar and wrist-based sleep tracking using the Withings Sleep Analyzer mat underneath the mattress.
Sleep sensations only track the person in front of the display, not the partner on the other side of the bed. Also, it is not possible to distinguish between coughing and snoring in multiple people.Photo: Samuel Gibbs / Guardian
It doesn’t record your sleep cycle or heart rate, which are important health indicators during sleep, but I was impressed with the non-contact sleep tracking system, which does not require you to wear special gear. It gives you tips for a good night’s sleep, helps you maintain a consistent bedtime, and suggests an optimized time after 2 weeks of tracking.
However, there are potential issues. Sleep detection is a free preview only until at least the end of the year. The company says it is learning and innovating with this new technology. We’re also looking for ways to make Sleep Sensing part of the Fitbit and Fitbit Premium experience after Google recently acquired a fitness tracker maker. This means that Google may start charging for some or all of your sleep tracking features, as you would for advanced sleep tracking analytics within your Fitbit Premium subscription.
You can set an ad hoc alarm or a recurring alarm, but because there is no battery backup, you will not wake up if the power is off when the alarm sounds.Photo: Samuel Gibbs / Guardian
Nest Hub can perform so-called sunrise alarms. Here, for a period of time just before the alarm goes off, the display gradually lights up in warm colors that simulate the sunrise and wakes up gently. If you sleep in the dark room facing it, it works, but otherwise you have a hard time. Nest Hub can illuminate third-party smart lights for even greater effect.
In addition, the ambient light sensor on top of all normal smart display features adjusts the brightness and color of the screen to make your photos look real, and you can turn them on and off with the swipe-up quick settings panel.Photo: Samuel Gibbs / Guardian
Nest Hub can also do all of the regular Smart Assistants. You can also view and search recipes, set timers and alarms, control various third-party smart home devices, and stream live feeds from compatible smart cameras such as the Google Nest Hello doorbell.
Play music and radio via BBC station, Spotify, Bluetooth, etc. and group with other Google speakers to create multi-room audio. You can cast videos from most media apps to your display just like you would on a TV or Chromecast, or play videos directly from Netflix, Disney +, or YouTube. The 7-inch screen is big enough to do short things or watch TV while doing other things, such as cooking.
It also plays news, displays personal information such as weather, calendar events, and commute, and syncs with your Google account. The Google Assistant can recognize your voice and provide you with personal information such as calendars and Spotify music. You can make voice calls via Google Duo, but you can’t make video calls because you don’t have a camera.
There is a physical mute switch for the three microphones on the back and a volume button on the side. Photo: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian Sustainability
Nest Hub is usually repairable. The casing is made of 54% recycled used plastic and is part of Google’s commitment to include recycled materials in all products launched in 2022. The company has published environmental impact reports for some products, but has not yet published updated products. Nest hub. Google recycles your device for free.
With a built-in threaded radio, it will later be possible to connect to the next generation of new smart home devices being developed by various manufacturers.
After waking up, you can quickly delete your sleep data from the display for up to 2 hours, and use the quick settings button to pause your sleep tracking.
The interface is generally fast enough, but it doesn’t snap exactly, but it can be a bit slower when streaming video from a smart camera.
The initial setup of Nest Hub is done via the Google Home app on your Android or iPhone and takes less than 5 minutes.
The price of the 2nd generation Google Nest Hub is 89.99.
For comparison, the Google Nest Hub Max is priced at 189, the Lenovo Smart Clock is priced at 34.99, the Amazon Echo Show 5 is priced at 79.99, the Echo Show 8 is priced at 99.99, and the Echo Show 10 is priced at 239.99.
The second generation Google Nest Hub offers a significant number of features packed into a compact, easy-to-use device.
This is very similar to the first generation, but it is useful to add radar for gestures and sleep tracking. It may not record your heart rate or sleep cycle, but it provides easy sleep tracking without the hassle of wearing or charging anything. Whether you need a Google sleep tracking device in your bedroom is another matter.
Speakers are good, but not as good as large smart speakers. The Google Assistant is the smartest voice assistant, and the small 7-inch display is one of the best digital photo frames you can buy, but it can be a bit slower here and there.
It’s slightly cheaper than similar competitors and will probably be discounted much faster. The first-generation Nest Hub, on the other hand, is whiplashed below 60.
Pros: Sleep tracking without bracelets or headbands, excellent screens, decent speakers, Google Assistant, hand gestures, video and music cast support, BBC radio, playing plastic, no cameras to worry about privacy.
Disadvantages: The 7-inch screen is a bit small for video, can sometimes be a bit slow, and there is no camera for video chat.
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