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Nest Hub 2nd Gen Review: Setting The Bar For Smart Displays

Nest Hub 2nd Gen Review
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Google has given you a reason to forget all other smart displays.

Nest Hub 2nd Gen
$99.99
Rating
star star star star star
Pros
  • New sustainable build
  • Four color options, including the new Mist color
  • The audio has been improved
  • Setup was very easy
  • Sleep sensing gives what feels like useful insight
  • The motion sense works WAY better here than on Pixel 4
Cons
  • Touch sensitivity on the screen could use some work

Google’s new Nest Hub smart display, which Google is simply calling the Nest Hub 2nd Gen, is here and it introduces some marked improvements over the previous models. Google started its journey with smart displays through the Google Home Hub a few years ago. Then back in 2019 it changed the name of the device to the Nest Hub.

Now we’re at the Nest Hub 2nd Gen, and Google has effectively given you a reason to forget that all other smart displays exist. It may not look it from the outside, but the newest smart display in Google’s collection is a cut above other affordable options.

To start, it only costs $99.99. So the cost of picking one up is affordable and likely feasible for most people who might want one. But it wasn’t enough for Google to just provide an affordable smart display. The Nest Hub 2nd Gen also needed to be compelling enough to buy over other options.

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Google seems to have achieved this in numerous ways. First with the Nest Hub 2nd Gen’s more sustainable build using 54% post-consumer recycled plastic. So you can feel good about the product you’re buying. And then with things like improved audio quality over the original Nest Hub, as well as new features. Such as the sleep sensing.

These things are all well and good. But how does the Nest Hub 2nd Gen stack up and why should you care about it? Is it worth your $99.99? That’s what this review aims to answer.

First and foremost, motion sense on the Nest Hub 2nd Gen is amazing

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One of the big things with the Nest Hub 2nd Gen, and perhaps the biggest thing, is the sleep sensing feature. Which is powered by Google’s soli radar technology and the motion sense gestures.

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If you’ve never used motion sense before, it was a cool idea introduced with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones. Allowing you to wave your hand over the radar chip on the front of the phone for things like skipping songs, pausing playback, and more.

There was just one issue. It kind of, wasn’t that great on the Pixel 4 series. The very brief time I got to spend with it on the Pixel 4 XL back when it launched felt extremely lacking.

Sometimes the motion sense just wouldn’t work properly. Other times it wouldn’t work at all. Even when the phone was right next to me. Suffice it to say I didn’t have high hopes for it on the new Nest Hub. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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Because motion sense on this thing works amazingly. Now, during setup Google’s instructions will tell you to place the display at mattress level. It also suggests to keep it fairly close to you. In my experience this does not matter at all. The surface of my night stand that it sits on is about a foot or more above my mattress level. And it’s at least a foot to two feet away from me.

Yet every morning for the past week I was able to wave my hand in a downward gesture to snooze alarms with absolutely zero issues. Whatever Google has done here to make motion sense work better and more consistently, it should keep doing it for any future devices it uses this tech in.

Sleep sensing seems to have some very useful insights

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I’ve never been one to dive headfirst into sleep tracking tech or features and actually enjoy using them. But as I’ve been testing out the Nest Hub 2nd Gen I actually find myself looking at my sleep stats almost daily.

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For me, the best part has been that it just works. After the initial setup, you don’t have to do anything else. You don’t have to wear a tracker, or put in sleep buds of any kind. The display just sits there and tracks your sleep data every night with no other requirements asked of you.

And that simplicity really shouldn’t be understated. It’s perhaps that simplicity that has made me interested in actually checking out the sleep data most mornings. Speaking of the sleep data, getting to it is almost automatic. While it won’t immediately jump into the sleep insights after you wake up, the display does nudge you to take a look.

Again, giving things a level of convenience here that I think will be important for getting people to actually care about checking out this data.

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Sleep well or the Nest Hub 2nd Gen will tell you how bad you are at resting

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Getting a good night’s sleep is important. But we don’t always get as much sleep as we should. And you can rest assured that you if you aren’t, this display will tell you. Essentially rubbing it in how bad you are at getting proper rest. As for the data you’ll be able to look at, Google has it divided into three main metrics – Quality, Duration, and Schedule.

Over the course of at minimum a few days, sleep sensing will learn what your habits are for falling asleep and assign a general schedule for you. Based on when you fall asleep and wake up. This ties in with the duration, or how long you slept for. So you can look at what your amount of sleep was from night to night and know if you’re getting enough.

Thirdly there’s the quality. Was your sleep ideal, not ideal, restful? Seeing these three main metrics can help you improve sleep if it needs it. Things are further broken down into other secondary factors. Such as how your respiratory rate was and how much you snored or coughed.

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You can then look at a little bit more detail from the wellness tab on the display for a brief sleep report. Which gives you an overview of what might be wrong with your sleep overall. Mine for example after yesterday morning says my sleep pattern is inconsistent. Which isn’t the end of the world but it certainly needs improvement.

Taking all of this into account, I can work towards getting better quality sleep more consistently. Which I feel like I can achieve more easily. And I have the Nest Hub 2nd Gen to thank for that.

Your own personal Sous-chef

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If you’re into cooking, even on a minimal level, there’s nothing better than having a pair of helping hands. The Nest Hub 2nd Gen is kind of like your own personal Sous-chef. Assisting you with things like recipes, tutorial videos, pictures of food etc.

Curious about presentation of a particular dish you’re cooking up? Ask Google to bring up photos of the dish. Maybe what you’re after is how to actually cook something. Figuring that out is easy. Just ask Google to find a recipe. A command that should and likely will surface results that includes both written recipes and YouTube videos showing you how to make it.

For me, this is one of the single most exciting reasons to have a smart display. So I can have something to look at in the kitchen while I cook, but more than that something that I don’t have to touch with my hands. Because the last thing I want is to get meat bits or other food particles on my tech.

I cannot stress enough how great a tool this is to have for home cooks. I used the display a couple of nights ago when making chicken fried chicken for dinner. It’s been quite a while since I’ve made gravy, and I wanted a little inspiration for sausage gravy. So I brought up search results on the display and was able to find everything I needed.

Aside from this, I could also use the display for having something to watch to keep me entertained while I lord over whatever I’m making. Often when I cook I’ll be in the kitchen for at least a couple hours. And that can get a bit boring during the times you have to watch over your food.

There’s an easy fix for that. Bring up something on YouTube, Disney+, or Hulu. All of which are media apps you can sync to the display and access any time. Maybe you just like music playing while you cook. That’s cool too because you can also link Spotify.

Basically, you want this somewhere in your kitchen.

My only real complaint is the touch sensitivity of the display

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There isn’t much to say about the Nest Hub 2nd Gen when it comes to negative attributes. But that doesn’t mean there are none. If there’s anything I had to complain about with this device it’s the touch sensitivity of the display.

While it works, it just doesn’t feel as smooth as it does on phones or tablets or other touch screen devices. It feels a little more sluggish than I was expecting and that can sometimes be a tiny bit annoying. Which is probably a result of using phones with 120Hz refresh refresh rate displays for the past year or two.

But I digress. Why doesn’t really matter. What matters is interacting with the touch screen on the Nest Hub 2nd Gen needs improvement. And unfortunately it probably isn’t something that Google can improve with software updates. Which would mean there wouldn’t be an improvement until the Nest Hub 3rd Gen. Should there be one.

This isn’t a deal breaker and it shouldn’t dissuade anyone from buying it. Because overall the rest of the functionality far outweighs the one negative thing I was able to find about this device. But it still needed to be mentioned because some users may find it more frustrating than others.

The Nest Hub 2nd Gen speaker sounds great and that makes a big difference

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It’s important for me to note here that I have no frame of reference on how good or not good the speakers were on older Google smart displays. I do know from word of mouth that the speaker on the original Nest Hub wasn’t excellent, but it wasn’t awful. It was simply just ok.

If you wanted a Nest Hub and you wanted a better audio experience, this is what the more expensive Nest Hub Max was for. But, that’s not really a necessity here. At least it doesn’t feel like one to me. The speakers actually sound quite good on this new version.

Whether it’s for streaming music or videos, the sound quality is pretty good. And while it won’t hold a candle to proper speakers or audio systems, like the Panasonic SoundSlayer, or generally anything from Sonos, you probably won’t be upset with the audio.

Then again, I’m also of the opinion that you don’t buy a smart display for the exceptional audio. That’s not what it’s meant for and it really shouldn’t be something to score negatively. That’s also just my opinion. Some people want an all-inclusive device like this so they don’t have to buy more than one speaker.

But personally, if you want really excellent audio for playing your music or videos, buy audio equipment that’s designed specifically for that. In the end the speaker with this version has been improved from the last model. So it’s a win in my book.

Should I buy the Nest Hub 2nd Gen?

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Not everyone is going to be looking for a device like this one, but it’s definitely something that everyone should consider buying. It comes in at a really good price point of $99.99. And with the improved speaker, I personally don’t feel there’s any need for something like the Nest Hub Max. Unless you want it for the larger display, and some people might.

The Nest Hub 2nd Gen gives you everything you could need in a smart display and its usefulness extends to the bedroom, the kitchen and more. Wherever you want to put it, you’ll end up using it.

So should you buy one? Yes. I would highly recommend grabbing one and seeing where it fits into your home. All that remains is to pick which color what you want. I’m very partial to the new Mist color myself.

Nest Hub 2nd Gen - Various Retailers