In short: During Google’s hardware event today in New York, Google announced a brand new product, Google Home Hub. While this is a new product form, it comes as part of the existing Google Home smart speaker line but with one major difference: it’s not just a speaker due to the inclusion of a seven-inch display. Google has now confirmed the Google Home Hub is available to pre-order starting today for $149 in the US, and is expected to go on general sale on October 22. Those who buy early will also be able to enjoy six months of YouTube Premium for free.
Background: While this is Google’s first smart display is not the first smart display to come to market. Google officially announced the smart display category during CES 2018 in January and since then models have come through from both Lenovo and JBL. While the Home Hub is now part of that limited group, and the three products do differ in terms of design, they are largely identical at the software level. This is due to the smart display category as whole being a group of device that are powered by Android Things and Google Assistant. This means the Home Hub has a limited software experience that is primarily designed to respond to voice commands and provide visual feedback as part of those responses. This can be in the form of videos launched within YouTube, results in Google Search, as well as access to websites. Although to coincide with the launch of the Home Hub, Google has announced some software tweaks such as Home View which provides easier shortcut access to connected smart home devices. The Home Hub primarily connects to homes via Wi-Fi with support for both 2.4 and 5 GHz networks, although the smart display does also support Bluetooth. When it comes to the color options, the Home Hub is available in a choice of four colors.
Impact: While the Home Hub is technically arriving to market late compared to the Lenovo Smart Display and the JBL Link View, it does have one advantage over both, the price and by a significant margin. With a cheaper price point, one that is only $20 more than the standard non-display Google Home, it does come with a number of compromises compared to the others. For example the Home Hub does not feature a camera and therefore is unable to make use of video calling through Google Duo. However, the price does make the Home Hub a far more viable option for those looking to test-run what is still a new product category, making it an ideal entry-level smart display.