A high-quality smart display can make all the difference when it comes to executing voice commands, listening to your favorite music and podcasts, and controlling your smart home. After all, everything web-connected, from your home security devices to thermostats, relies on an Internet-of-Things host to get the ball rolling.
One of the top-tier titans for smart controllers is the Google Nest Hub. Sleek, interactive, loaded with features, and powered by the almighty Google Assistant, the first-gen Nest Hub delivers across multiple categories, but how does the first-gen model stand up against Google’s second-gen iteration of the popular smart display? We weigh in on both products in this head-to-head comparison.
Both the first and second-gen Google Nest Hubs offer a seven-inch 1024 x 600 HD touchscreen. In terms of slight design overhauls, the second-gen features an edgeless glass display, similar to what you’ll find on Google’s latest Nest Thermostat. Dimensionally, the new Hub is slightly bigger all around, compared to its older sibling. The second-gen hub measures 4.7-inches tall, 7-inches wide, and 2.7-inches deep. The first-gen model is 4.65-inches tall, 7-inches wide, and 2.65-inches deep. As part of Google’s effort to favor eco-friendly shells and casings, the second-gen Hub is made with 54% post-consumer recycled plastic.
Color options for the second-gen Hub include chalk, charcoal, sand, and mist. First-gen stylings include chalk, charcoal, and sand. The second-gen Hub also adds a third far-field microphone for better wake word sensitivity in noise-heavy environments. Loud family? Big, booming rooms? No problem.
The first and second-gen Nest Hubs come with a 1.7-inch tweeter, featuring no mid-range drivers or woofers. While we’ve yet to get our hands on the second-gen Hub for a proper audio demonstration, Google claims the latest display offers a 50% improvement in bass quality, thanks in part to a design tweak that adds more acoustic space around the tweeter itself. Once we get our hands on the new display, we’ll be sure to update this section based on our experience.
In terms of first-gen sound quality, we’re not the biggest fans. Lacking sonic range and volume overall, there’s a lot to be desired in the sound department, especially compared to competitive smart displays like the Amazon Echo Show. With the same sized tweeter on both Hub generations, we can’t imagine that the new display’s sound will be leaps-and-bounds better, even with the promise of richer bass. But, we’d love to be proven wrong.
Neither the first or second-gen Nest Hub features a camera, an unusual design choice for a smart display. For those with major privacy concerns, this isn’t necessarily bad news. However, those hoping to take advantage of video-calling from a smart display, and Google’s Face Match functions, will want to set their sights on the Google Nest Hub Max or a competitive smart display like the newly-released Amazon Echo Show 10.
Smart home compatibility and features
There are some key differences between both generations of the Nest Hub. For starters, the second-gen Hub features a handful of behind-the-scenes improvements. Chief amongst these is a faster CPU for improved processing of voice commands and other functions. The second-gen also features an onboard Thread radio for Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP) support. In a nutshell, a live and hand-shaking CHIP ecosystem means your home’s smart devices will have a much easier time communicating and performing with each other, under one roof. While this feature isn’t live at launch, we’re excited to see just how much faster a home-full of web-connected gear responds to Thread broadcasting.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the second-gen Hub is a Soli radar chip. “Radar?” you may be asking. “Does that mean the Nest Hub is tracking me?” Technically, yes, but not in any kind of malicious way. For one, the inclusion of a Soli chip means gesture controls in thin air. By simply tapping in the air (in front of the display), you can play/pause media on the Nest Hub. The ability to skip between tracks is absent at launch, but a wave gesture for snoozing alarms is part of a much greater suite of Soli features. Want a hint? Okay, here it goes: Google wants to put those bustling Serta sheep out of business.
The Soli chip, microphones, ambient light, and temperature sensors operate in unison to help track your sleeping habits. Observed criteria include movement, breathing, coughing, snoring, and light and temperature fluctuations. Wait? Is Google watching me sleep? Fear not. All collected sleep data is stored locally on the Hub itself, with results viewable in the form of movement graphs accessible through the display itself. Only high-level disturbances (tracked coughing and snores) are sent to Google for further analysis. This data is also sent to the Google Fit app, where you can opt to receive advice on how to create a better sleeping experience for yourself. Google’s Sleep Sensing feature-suite is available free until 2022.
If you hate the idea of Google studying your snores, you can disable cough and snore detection while keeping sleep-tracking enabled. You can also delete sleep-study results when you wake up in the morning.
Price and warranty
The second-gen Nest Hub will sell for $99, with pre-ordering available through March 30. The first-gen Hub goes for $89. Both displays come with a one-year limited warranty from Google.
If you’re torn between the first or second-gen Hub, we recommend going with the second-gen model. For one, it’s only $10 more than the original. In terms of future-proofing, it’s also the better of the two displays, even if you’re not on board with all the new sleep-tracking features. Outside of snooze analysis, you’re still getting touchless gesture controls, an improved display, an additional far-field mic, and Google’s promise of better overall audio.
For those that already own a first-gen Hub, we still urge you to upgrade, but only if you wish. Google is still releasing updates and features for the original Hub, including the new Ambient EQ sensor and Sunrise Alarm (both features also available on the second-gen Hub). We’re guessing it’ll be a while before the O.G. model becomes obsolete, so enjoy while Google’s support still lasts.