The Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) doesn't deviate much from the original smart display launched in 2018. It adds a sleep tracking feature that's useful for those without a smartwatch. The speaker sounds fuller with a more pronounced bass. But if you don't need the new sleep tracking feature, there's no reason for existing owners to upgrade.
- 7-inch 1,024 x 600-pixel touchscreen
- Soli sensor for motion sensing, ambient light sensor
- 3 far-field microphones with mute button
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
Sleep tracking (Google calls it Sleep Sensing) is the cool new feature in the Nest Hub. What happens here is that the smart display's built-in Soli sensor, a tiny radar first seen in the Pixel 4 smartphone, will record motion like your breathing and sleep movement. This, coupled with input from the Nest Hub's microphones, light and temperature sensors, is used to generate a report on your sleep. For example, it will record the duration of your sleep, whether you had a restful night, and how often you snore or cough in your sleep. You'll also get some rather common-sense insight into your sleep. For example, the device flagged that my bedtime varied by quite a bit over the course of my one-week testing.
Unlike the sleep tracking from a smartwatch, you don't have to wear anything to bed. Simply place the Nest Hub nearby, such as a night stand and point its screen towards your bed. The Nest Hub's Wellness tab shows your sleep data, which is also accessible in the Google Fit app. In my testing, the Nest Hub's sleep tracking falls within 10 to 15 minutes of the sleep duration measured by my smartwatch. And it can detect snoring, a feature available only in some smartwatches, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. However, the Nest Hub can only track the sleep of one person in the bed. It also doesn't seem to work for my afternoon naps — presumably because it's not night-time. Google says local users can enjoy Sleep Sensing for free until 2023, but a paid subscription may be required subsequently.
Aside from Sleep Sensing, the Soli radar is also used for motion gestures. You can “air tap” the the Nest Hub to play or pause media or wave your hand in front of it to snooze an alarm. As for its other functions, you can watch YouTube and Netflix videos (the latter was added last year to the original Nest Hub) on its 7-inch screen, listen to music and podcasts, and control your linked smart home devices. But I personally find that the Nest Hub works best as a digital photo frame for your Google Photos. Photos always look great as the screen automatically adjusts the brightness and colour according to its surroundings. The device, though, could be a bit more snappy. It feels slightly laggy at times during navigation, resulting in some missed swipes and taps. The voice-activated Google Assistant is fairly responsive, though.
The Google Nest Hub comes with some privacy features. You can mute the microphone, turn off Sleep Sensing and there's no built-in camera, unlike Lenovo's Smart Display. Overall, you probably get your money's worth if you use it in the bedroom or want slightly better audio. If not, you might as well try to hunt down a 1st gen version instead. The new Nest Hub is available in chalk and charcoal and sells for S$139 at the Google Store. You can also find it on Shopee and Lazada, which may be cheaper due to discounts or vouchers.
Note: Review set provided by Google.
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