Google Home Hub made its debut on Tuesday in New York, showing what it can and won’t do, how it’s similar to Amazon’s Echo Show and the Facebook Portal. Notably, it’s different from the competition in one huge way that should please everyone who’s concerned with privacy.
Google executive Diya Jolly introduced the new product, taking care to describe it as an essential product for the thoughtful home, side-stepping the cliche of the “smart home” a few times during her remarks, compared to the just-revealed Facebook Portal and the second-generation Amazon Echo Show, Google Home Hub appears to be winning the competition for coziest home video tablet, based on its soft design, A.I. software, a focus on privacy, and kitchen-focused features.
The Google Home Hub sells for $149, it comes in four colors, and Google is throwing in six months of Youtube Premium — a $12/month service — for free.
Jolly said from the stage in Soho that she “obsessed” over Google Home Hub’s display, noting that it can respond automatically to the ambient light in the room because of a new feature called Ambient EQ, a sensor to fine-tune brightness and color of the display. Also, Hub automatically turns the screen off at night.
“No matter what time of day, which room, and even your home decor, Hub can blend seamlessly into your home,” Jolly said.
Google Home Hub: Where’s the Camera?
On Monday, Facebook debuted its Portal video tablet, which was roundly criticized here and other places by journalists who asked if debuting a video camera tablet now was the right time, given Facebook’s biggest data breach in history was uncovered just last month. It seems that Google might’ve forced Facebook’s hand, as the search giant put its rival video up for pre-order Monday. It ships in November.
Google’s Home Hub is different from its Amazon and Facebook competition in one big way: It doesn’t have a video camera. Both Amazon and Facebook tablets tout a camera as a way to make video calls.
Jolly noted that Google Home Hub’s designers did not include a camera, “so that it was comfortable to use in the private spaces of your home, like your bedroom.”
Google illustrated exactly why one might not want a camera in the Home Hub by showing one on a night stand, next to a woman waking up — at 7 a.m. Nobody should be hacked, but especially not then:
The other major player in the video screen market is, of course, Amazon, and reviews of the second-generation Amazon Echo Show came out on Monday, ahead of its October 11 release and the unveiling of the Google Home Hub on Tuesday.
Google Home Hub also acts as a video doorbell when used with Nest, setting up competition with Amazon and its Ring Doorbell tech.
More Google Home Hub Specs Announced Tuesday
- Google Home Hub comes in four colors:
— “Aqua,” a seafoam green
— “Sand,” sort of a millennial pink
— “Charcoal,” it’s black
— “Chalk,” similar to heather gray
Google Home Hub has five primary functions:
— Google Maps
— Google Calendar
— Google Photos
Google vs. Facebook vs. Amazon! The Video Tablet Showdown
Google Home Hub Price: $149
Google Home Hub Release Date: October 22 in stores, pre-order October 9
Facebook Portal Price: $199 (10-inch) and $349 for Portal+ (15-inch)
Facebook Portal Release Date: Shipping in November, pre-order October 8
Amazon Echo Show Price: $230
Amazon Echo Show Release Date: October 11, pre-order September 20