Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Nest Hub Max Smart Display Review

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This wont be a shock to anyone whos watched my channel for a while, but Im

a big fan of voice assistants and smart speakers.

I have Sonos speakers, HomePods, and Google Home devices around my house.

Theyre a perfect compliment for a smart home to quickly adjust groups of lights, changing

your thermostat temperature, setting timers in the kitchen, or listening to music and

the latest news.

Near the end of last year I reviewed the Google Nest Hub and also included it in my favorite

tech of 2018 list.

Its compact size makes it easy to tuck way pretty much anywhere, but its ideal

placement for me has been in the kitchen.

But its also the compact size that has left me wanting something a little bigger

for a larger room.

And thats where the Google Nest Hub Max comes in.

Lets take a look at whats carried over, whats new, and what my first impressions

are of the Max vs. its smaller brother.

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Im Matt Ferrell ... welcome to Undecided.

The Google Nest Hub Max isnt the only large smart screen device on the market.

Youve got choices like Amazons Echo Show, Lenovo Smart Display, Lenovo Smart Tab,

or the Facebook Portal.

Although, Im not sure who would actually trust a Facebook device in their home in the

first place.

And devices that have always-on cameras can be a bit creepier than an always-listening

smart speaker.

But Google nailed a few key design decisions around the Google Home Hub family of products

that piqued my interest and got me to jump in and try them out.

Googles really been nailing it when it comes to having a distinctive design, from

their phones to their computers to their smart home devices.

If I had to choose a word to describe their design aesthetic, it would befriendly.”

They offer bright and light colors, integrate a mixture of materials like plastics and fabrics,

and try to soften the hardware with smooth bevels and rounded corners.

On their phones, it makes them very tactile and feel good in the hand.

With the Google Nest Hub, it looks like something that belongs in a home.

The one I have here is a color scheme they call, “Chalk,” which is a nice light fabric

wrapped around the base that gives the screen a floating look.

This really blends well in my kitchen.

As much as I like the 7display on the smaller Hub, the 10display on the Max

is a great step up.

In the evenings I like to listen toand watch my news brief as I prepare dinner, but standing

8 to 10 feet away from a 7screen isnt ideal.

The 10screen is easier on the eyes and looks just as phenomenal as a photo frame.

Its sharp and gets very bright.

It has the same ambient light sensors as the smaller model, so it adjusts brightness and

color temperature based on the room.

It looks incredible.

The UI is identical to what weve seen on the smaller version.

And just like on that version, my one major nitpick is that some of the screens and gestures

arent discoverable.

Google does display the edges of cards from the right side or bottom of the screen, and

during the tutorial they use animations to teach you to drag from the sides.

Its a decent implementation, but for someone that didnt go through that tutorial, it

wont be completely obvious what to do from the top and bottom of the screen.

When the Nest Hub is in ambient mode and displaying photos, swipe from the right side of the screen

to advance to the next photo.

Tap anywhere and it will show you the overview screen, which includes the date, weather,

and upcoming events from your calendar.

Swipe the cards to the left and youll see more suggestions for you based on how you

use Google products, like suggested YouTube videos to watch.

Swipe down from the top of the screen to access smart home controls, and swipe up from the

bottom to adjust brightness, volume, turn ondo not disturb,” set an alarm, or

go to settings.

Just like the smaller version, there are also physical volume buttons behind the right side

of the screen, and a switch to deactivate the camera and microphone.

All of Googles devices like these have switches that physically disconnect the cameras

and microphones, which means its impossible for someone to spoof that theyre off when

theyre actually on.

But my biggest complaint with the Google Nest Hub Max is that theres only one switch

to disconnect both the camera and the microphone.

I wish they had included two separate switches for those times someone might want to keep

the microphone on, but disable the camera.

You can turn the camera functionality off in software, but the physical switch is all

or nothing.

And finally, Im also happy with design choices Google made around the display itself.

You can control how quickly the screen will go into ambient mode, the threshold of light

that triggers it to turn off the screen at night, and even blank the screen after 5 minutes

of inactivity.

You can custom tailor your experience around whats displayed, when, and for how long.

Again, I tip my hat to Google for a job well done there.

Its not just the screen that got an upgrade, the speakers got a big upgrade as well.

To say that this sounds better than the smaller Google Nest Hub would be an understatement.

The Google Nest Hub Max has much bigger speakers that are also in 3stereo.

Two forward facing tweeters and a rear firing woofer.

I wouldnt say this is on par with something like the Sonos One, but its close enough

that it provides a good casual listening experience for something like a kitchen.

But the biggest addition is the 127-degree wide-angle camera, which unlocks some cool

new features.

All of these features are optional and you can configure which ones will be activated

or not.

You can opt in to let the Nest Hub Max use face detection, so it can display your calendar

and personalized notifications on the screen if youre looking at it.

This is a great addition for a multi-family household.

Ive found it to be pretty responsive and accurate and detecting myself and my wife

when were in the room.

You can also setup Google Duo for voice and video calls across devices, which is kind

of awesome.

When someone calls you youll see a live video feed of them on the screen, but they

wont see you until you answer.

And even then you can turn off the video feed on your end of the call.

To answer you can just tap the button on the screen or tell Google to accept the call.

Google also implemented a feature thats similar to what the Facebook Portal does with

their camera.

As you move around your room, the display will automatically pan and zoom the image

to keep you centered and in view.

Its a really nice feature for the person on the other end of the call and in my testing

it felt pretty natural with the panning and zooming speed.

Its not jarring at all.

And I was also impressed with how far off the side it was able to pan and zoom.

Granted, it is a digital zooming feature, so the more it zooms in, the blurrier the

image gets.

As part of Google Duo, you can also leave video messages for someone like a virtual

post-it note hung on a refrigerator.

On the Nest Hub Max or your phone, you can record the message and assign it to a specific

person on your contact list.

When the person is recognized on the Nest Hub Max, the first card that slides out will

show them a thumbnail about the video message.

All they have to do is tap on the card or ask Google to play your message.

After its finished theyre given the option to record a video message response.

Its a pretty nice feature that seems perfect for something like a parent leaving a message

for a child arriving home from school.

Another interesting, but not quite perfect feature you get from the addition of the camera

is gestures.

As of right now, Google has only added a pause and resume gesture, but they may be adding

more over time.

If you raise your hand towards the camera it will pause whatever is playing.

That makes it easy to pause your music or video quickly without having to shout over

the audio.

To pick back up you just raise your hand again.

Its neat in concept, but in practice its a bit hit or miss.

I havent had much luck getting it to work reliably, but knowing how Google works, this

is a feature that will get better and more reliable over time.

And the final new feature is that the camera can be used as part of your Nest Camera setup.

Setting it up is pretty easy, but as I discovered, theres a wrinkle.

In order to set this up as a Nest Cam, you have to set up Nest under your Google account.

If you arent aware, Google has retired the Works with Nest platform as they are attempting

to roll all of their smart home services under a unified Google Nest platform.

The downside is that many Nest integrations with third party services like IFTTT will

break if you migrate your Nest account into a Google account.

I fall into that boat, so I ended up activating the Nest camera functionality under my wifes

Google account for testing.

Once its set up, it works pretty much like youd expect.

You can set up recognized faces and home and away monitoring, which includes continuous

video recording.

When someone is viewing the Nest camera feed, the Google Nest Hub Max will put a notification

on the screen and the green light will blink.

For me, this isnt a feature I plan on using, so Ive turned off the Nest Cam integration.

I can hear some of you now, “but Matt ... youre always going on about privacy.

Why would you want this in your home?”

Well, for two reasons: 1) Google has done a good job with all of their Home hardware.

The camera and microphone can be easily switched off with the physical switch for those times

you want complete privacy.

2) Google has been making improvements on the privacy and data accessibility front over

the past year or so.

Ive discussed that in other videos, which Ill link to in the description.

But the bottom line is that Im comfortable with the privacy controls that Google has

provided with the Google Nest Hub Max.

Can Google get even better on the privacy front?

Yes, absolutely, but Im happy with how theyre approaching their Home devices right


The Google Nest Hub is surprisingly adaptable to however you want to use it, and it does

so at a good price.

My smaller Google Nest Hub has migrated to our finished basement where its currently

working as a clock instead of a photo frame.

We can initiate a Google Duo call between the Kitchen and the Basement if we need to

communicate quickly.

Even though the smaller Hub doesnt have a camera, its still a really useful feature.

With all of the great features that made the smaller Hub one of my top tech picks for last

year, with the Hub Max you get some well-thought-out features with the addition of the camera,

more robust sound, and an even bigger screen that works extremely well as a digital photo


Some of the new features, like the gestures, may have their quirks, but the customization

options of the Google Nest Hub Max make me give it a big thumbs up.

Do any of you use a smart screen device like the Google Nest Hub Max?

Jump into the comments and let me know what you think of them.

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