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Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen review

Posted on 25-Jun-2021 16:07 | Filed under: Reviews

Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen review

We are now quite used to the idea of assistants in our smartphones and over the last couple of years we've seen a wave of new smart speakers. Some follow a traditional speaker-like design while others add a touchscreen, making it more like an interactive tablet.


The new Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen was recently released in New Zealand and it is an example of those smart assistants builtin inside a touchscreen. 


You will find the Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen has a beautiful new design, built using 54% recycled plastic. The screen is very thin and is tilted on top of the speaker part, which has a soft fabric cover. The 7-inch screen has a new edgeless glass frame that is elegant and works well to frame images when the device is being used to show photos or artwork.


The Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen can be used to stream content from different sources, thanks to its built-in cast functionality. This means you can play content from a huge list of services including TVNZ, Acorn TV, YouTube, Netflix or Disney+, all controlled from your phone. The screen size and the huge variety of content mean it can easily be a device to consume this content during a break, in the kitchen or in some other relaxing area.


The speaker was improved over the original version and gives a better sound than before, which makes a huge difference when playing content from services like Spotify.


Most importantly, the Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen brings the power of the Google Assistant to wherever it is. Simply start with the "Ok Google" trigger phrase and ask questions in natural language. The replies are quick and most of the times you will see more relevant data on the screen. For example, ask what is the weather forecast and you hear a report while the screen shows a chart of temperature forecast. It can also be used to control other smart devices linked to your Google account - for example lights and cameras or locks and automatic blinds.


The screen shows a menu on top that you can scroll sideways, with options like Your Morning (or Afternoon, or Evening), Wellness, home Control, Media and more. All these tiles show important information, relevant to you during the day.


For example, the My Evening screen will have tiles to start a sleep time timer with relaxing music, while the  Media tab will have tiles with access to news or to content you were playing before - a quick shortcut to resume playing so you don't have to reach for your phone to control casting.


You can set alarms directly from the touch screen and the most interesting one is the Sunrise Alarm, which will gently wake you up in the morning by slowly increasing the alarm volume and display brightness. It can even control any linked lights in your room so that they slowly increase their brightness over a certain period of time.


The biggest new thing is their implementation of a technology called Motion Sense by Soli technology - a miniature radar that understands human motion. This technology allows it to recognise movements in front of it. It means you can pause a movie, TV episode or music stream by simply pushing your hand in front of the screen like a "stop" motion - you don't even need to touch the screen. It also works as a snooze button for your alarms. 


This same technology is used for a new feature called "Sleep Sensing". If you position the Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen on a bedside table facing you it can "sense" your movements at night - and by sense I mean even your breathing. It also listens for sounds like coughing and snoring. All this data is collected during the night and made available in the morning with detailed information about your sleep - including quality, how many times you coughed or snored and Respiration per Minute (RPM). All this information is available from a tile on the Wellness screen or if you say "Ok Google how was my sleep last night?" 


You also have access to this information plus historical data via the Google Fit app on your smartphone, including how long you were in bed before falling asleep, time to get up. The app also shows a chart with variations on your RPM and an "Efficiency" percentage.


After some time this data leads to recommendations regarding your sleep - are you sleeping too little or are you taking too long to relax and sleep? 


And a final thing: the new Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen doesn't have a camera so you can be quite confident that it won't be looking over while you are sleeping.




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