Nest Hub Max: Price, Release Date, Pros and Cons of the Nest Reboot
Google’s Nest Hub Max is here. The larger smart screen was unveiled during the company’s I/O developer conference Tuesday and promoted an all-in-one smart home control station. The 10-inch smart display comes equipped with its own camera to enable video calling and home security features. Those are two areas where Google’s hardware devision has never treaded before, but expect more of these kinds of capabilities in the company’s future.
Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of hardware, also announced that it would be merging its two hardware teams: Nest and Google Home. All of Google’s smart home devices (except its Google Home, Google Home Max, and Google Home Mini) will carry the Nest monicker. This will make company branding slightly less confusing and allow Google to imbue its smart home tech with an arsenal of new capabilities.
The smaller, Google Home Hub (now called the Nest Hub) was created to control other smart devices, show users recipe instructions, play videos, and show off images that the other Google speakers couldn’t. (Home Hub debuted in October 2018.) The Hub Max builds on these fundamentals and takes them a step further with a screen that’s 3-inches larger and a Nest camera built-right inside.
“[It] builds on the things people love about Hub, but is designed for communal spaces in the home where the family gathers,” said Osterloh. “It’s a new product that has a camera and a 10-inch display, which is perfect for the center of your helpful home.”
These tweaks now bring Nest Hub products closer to its competition, like the Facebook Portal, Amazon Echo Show, and Lenovo Smart Display. Here’s everything Google announced about its new smart display at I/O:
Nest Hub Max: Price
The Nest Hub Max will retail for $229, which matches the Amazon Echo Show price when it launched. Google also dropped the price of its original Nest Hub to $99 (down from the debut price of $149.)
Nest Hub Max: Release Date
The company revealed that the Hub Max will be available for purchase in the summer, but didn’t give a firm release date. Interested buyers can join the waitlist on Google’s online store to receive email notifications of when the product will launch.
Nest Hub Max: Camera Features
Besides its larger screen, the camera is the Hub Max’s headlining feature. It enables the smart home device to serve as an intelligent video intercom and security camera. Google has also introduced facial recognition features, that allow willing users to receive personalized notifications from the device.
Upon release, the Nest mobile app will allow users to set up facial identification. This way every time that person uses the Hub Max, the display will show their icon on the screen and deliver notifications, messages, and reminders for them only. Households with big family might find this particularly useful so the device can differentiate who is using it.
Google said that all face data is stored locally on the Hub Max. But the fact that users have to use their phones to set it up suggests that it (at least briefly) make it to Google’s servers.
Video Calls with Face Tracking:
The Hub Max lets users make video calls, but it exclusively supports Google Duo. That means both parties need to have the or it simply won’t work.
Much like the Facebook Portal, the Hub Max’s camera will detect human faces and attempt to keep the camera centered on them. That means you could call your friend up when you’re cooking and the smart display will always keep you in the frame.
Its camera has a 127-degree field of view, which is plenty of to move around. But the camera comes in at only 6.5-megapixels, which is enough for family video calls but don’t expect it to take crisp family portraits.
The Hub Max also makes use of the Nest Aware service, which programs Nest cameras and the Hub Max to turn on and act as a surveillance system. The Nest app will let users check in on a live feed of where ever their Hub Max is facing and by paying the subscription fee, users can get even more advanced features.
It can notify you every time a face that’s not recognized enters the Hub Max’s view. This feature could quickly get annoying if not everyone in a home sets up a facial recognition account with the smart display. Privacy-conscious might want to opt to leave this feature untouched to spare themselves from constant notifications of their children or roommates stepping into frame.
- Built-In Off-Button:
Talking about privacy, Google made sure to note that the Hub Max’s camera and microphone can be powered off at the switch of a button. Previously, the company made it a point to not include a camera on the original Nest Hub to make users feel comfortable around the device. Now, with the addition of a camera Google has added a kill switch.
Every time the camera is turned on a small green light right next to it will also turn on. The camera will almost always be powered off unless users are using it for a video call or to take a photo. But to give consumers peace of mind, Google added a power switch on the back that electronically disconnects the camera and microphone.
Nest Hub Max: Pros and Cons
Put simply, the the Hub Max offers a bigger screen and a camera at the cost of the user privacy. The Hub Max is meant for those with a large family that know everyone at home will be using it.
If you simply want a screen to watch media, display different images, and control your other smart home devices, then the $99 Nest Hub might be a better purchase.
The decision will all hinge on the whether or not users want to use the camera often. Anyone who is convinced they’ll use it many times a week should consider the $229 Hub Max. But if a basic display would do the trick, then then $99 Nest Hub will be the smarter buy.
Nest Hub Max: Full Specs List
Here’s the full list of tech specs to expect with the Nest Hub Max:
- Camera: 6.5MP with 127-degree field of view and auto-framing.
- Dimensions & Weight: 9.85-inches in width and 7.19-inches in height.
- Colors: Gray and White.
- Speakers & Microphones: Stereo speaker system (2x 18mm 10W tweeters, 1x 75mm 30W subwoofer) and far-field microphones.
- Sensors: Ambient EQ light sensor.
- Connectivity: Supports Bluetooth 5.0.
- Power: 30-watt power adapter