What do you get when you mix Google Assistant with a digital photo frame, Netflix player, sizable responsive screen, smart home centre, home security device and video call gizmo? Answer: the Google Nest Hub Max, the next generation smart speaker from the internet titan.
Like other Google Smart speakers, the device comes with sophisticated voice recognition software that identifies and answers questions fired its way, able to provide news updates, weather reports and recipes.
But the Nest Hub Max is much more than that. Complete with a 10-inch (1280 x 800 HD) touchscreen, integrated camera and impressive three-inch woofer speaker, it’s is the most advance – and largest – product on the Google Smart screen speaker line. It’s the most expensive too, over twice the price of the Nest Hub (£80).
Released in September 2019 – a year and a half from the original Google Home Hub – the sleek Nest Hub Max is a rival to Amazon’s Echo Show, with both devices available to purchase at around the £200 mark.
But is the Nest Hub Max worth its high price point? In terms of audio quality, voice recognition and screen features, how does it perform in a busy household? And what are the privacy implications of the in-built face recognition camera? Here’s everything you need to know about the Google Nest Hub Max.
Google Nest Hub Max review: summary
If you’re looking for a smart speaker packed with a plethora of truly impressive features, the Nest Hub Max is it: from its face-matching tech, super-smart voice assistant and home security capabilities, this device has it all.
A truly top-of-the-range and future-proof smart speaker, it’s well worth a place in your kitchen corner.
Price: The Google Nest Hub Max is available for £179 at Currys PC World.
- With a built-in Google Assistant, the Nest Hub Max allows you to control other smart devices, such as thermostats or lights.
- Its facial recognition software also users to set up individual profiles, allowing users to leave personalised reminders or voice messages for others in your home.
- Compatible with TV, music, radio and podcast services including Netflix, Spotify, TuneIn, Deezer YouTube Music and Google Podcasts.
- The Nest Hub Max can make video calls via Google Duo.
- Its Nest security camera can monitor your home for movement and unfamiliar faces.
- Big, clear display
- Personalised face-match technology
- Google photo and calendar integration
- Netflix compatible
- Sleek design
- Recognises hand gesture controls
- Struggles with Wifi connection over a distance
- No physical privacy shutter for the camera
- No night vision to assist its Home security Nest software
What is the Google Nest Hub Max?
The Google Nest Hub Max (2020) is the latest generation of smart-screen speakers from – you guessed it – Google. A premium variant of the original Google Home Hub (2019), the Hub Max offers the traditional features of a voice-assistant device alongside a responsive touch screen. The device also comes with a camera able to recognise and remember up to six faces and deliver personalised (e.g. Google calendar reminders).
Although coming with a touch screen, the Google Nest Hub Max isn’t a tablet, per se – you can’t download apps to it from Google Play, for instance. However, the device is much cheaper than an Android tablet or iPad.
What does the Google Nest Hub Max do?
The Google Nest Hub Max uses voice and touch screen commands to set timers, search for recipes, news and weather reports, alongside plenty more.
Other features include:
- Powered by Google Assistant, the device can recognise your voice and responds to commands and queries. Verbal answers are usually accompanied by visual information.
- The device’s face match technology can recognise up to six different faces, allowing the Google Nest Hub Max to answer questions for that specific profile (e.g. “Hey Google, how long will it take me to get to work today?).
- After syncing your Google Photos with the Hub Max and your phone, recent images can automatically appear on the screen. The Hub Max can also be set to display specific photo albums.
- Using its Ambient EQ sensor and colour tone system, the Nest Hub Max ensures photos on-screen look close to printed photos rather than digital copies.
- Users are able to control the device’s volume, dismiss alarms and stop streaming videos with hand gestures alone.
- Allows users to monitor their home – and alert them to any movement in front of the device – with the optional Nest Aware service.
- The Nest Hub Max can stream music TV and film from services such as Spotify and Netflix. Users can also ‘cast’ apps such as BBC iPlayer on the device via Chromecast.
How much is Google Nest Hub Max?
Is Google Nest Hub Max good value for money?
For those looking to invest in a smart-screen speaker fitted with the latest cutting-edge technology, The Nest Hub Max is for you. The device is certainly value for money if used in a busy family home where its face match features can be properly utilised. The family cook can also make particular use of the device’s hands-free gesture capabilities (very hand when your hands are covered in flour).
However, if you’re not comfortable with placing a camera in your home due to privacy concerns (even though most of its functionality is powered by local AI rather than by streaming your kitchen across the internet), a device like the Google Home Hub (around £80) may be a better purchase.
Google Nest Hub Max design
The Nest Hub Max essentially looks like a curved Google tablet laying on top of a soft felt cradle (the nest, if you will). The 6.5-megapixel 127-degree camera is built into the top front of the screen, with a handy switch on the back that disables it. This may turn off the camera, but there’s no physical shutter. You also can’t disable the camera and microphone independently with this physical switch.
Note: despite appearances, you can’t detach the screen from the speakers. Do not try this at home.
- Style: While the borders are chunky compared to an iPad, the 10-inch screen offers a decent resolution – 1280 x 800 pixels. That’s certainly good enough to watch Netflix from a reasonable distance, but the screen can look a tad pixelated up very close. The base itself comes in either grey or charcoal (see below).
- Size: Although almost 20cm high and 25cm wide, the device as a whole feels pretty compact, with the powerful speaker built into the base. No hefty bulges out the back, just a smooth and stylish finish all over.
- Robustness: While looking like an Android resting on a soft stand, the Google Nest Hub Max is remarkably sturdy and should survive any accidental knocks in the kitchen. Any food to hit the felt base won’t be an easy fix, mind.
Google Nest Hub Max sound and streaming quality
Whether you’re looking to play background music or kick-start a blast party bangers at top volume, the Google Nest Hub Max can manage either. Its speakers (two front 18 mm tweeters and one 75 mm woofer at the back) serve crisp and clear sound at either end of the decibel scale, quality not lost at top volume.
Overall, it’s a much superior sound than offered by the smaller Google devices, such as the Google Nest mini. The Google Nest Hub Max may not match the likes of the Google Home Max or Sonos One speakers, but will certainly go above and beyond for non-audiophiles.
Spotify users may run into some difficulties with the Google Nest Hub Max, though. We struggled to get the device to show up as a connected speaker in the Spotify app, which prevented us from playing the same music from different devices.
On the plus side, with a single voice command, Google Nest Hub Max can play your favourite Netflix series in HD, the speakers set to honour even the most explosion-filled action you stream. While content appears clear, the device can struggle when far from your Wi-Fi router (it came worst off in our test against an Amazon rival).
Google Nest Hub Max set-up: how easy is it to use?
At most, you’ll need ten minutes to get the basic features of your Nest Hub Max set up. If you already have a Google account and the Google Home app installed, it could take even less time.
The set-up is fairly simple. After unboxing the device, plug it in and open the Google Home app on your phone (you’ll need to download it from Google Play or the App Store if you don’t have it already).
In the Google Home app, press the ‘set up 1 device’ notification when you see it on screen. The app will then ask you to confirm a four-digit code that will appear on your Nest Hub Max screen. Match it and press next.
The Nest Hub Max will then connect to the Wi-Fi your phone is currently using (so make sure you’re set to the right one).
After this, you’ll be prompted to set up a variety of features, including Voice Match (which allows the device to recognise your voice) and facial recognition. As laid out in its data agreement, Google may keep some of this data on its servers.
Next, you’ll be asked to link any TV and music accounts you have (think Netflix and Spotify), plus your Google Duo phone number and account (which will allow you to make video calls).
You’ll then be asked to review all decisions made in the set-up process. And then that’s it. You’re good to go.
What is the difference between the Google Nest Hub Max and Google Nest Hub?
Firstly, the size: while the Nest Hub comes complete with a 7-inch screen, the Nest Hub Max has a much bigger, 10-inch interface, along with a larger speaker. Critically, only the Nest Hub Max carries a camera, meaning you can’t make video calls or take advantage of Google’s facial technology with the Nest Hub.
However, the Nest Hub is much cheaper: coming in at around £80 – over £100 less than the Nest Hub Max. If you’re not too bothered about hi-fi audio quality or camera functionality, the Nest Hub could be a better buy for you.
Our verdict: should you buy Google Nest Hub Max?
Quite simply, the Google Nest Hub Max is one of the best smart speakers on the market, if not the best. Alongside its genius-level smart assistant, Netflix integration, sleek design and personalised Face Match features, this device is perfect for a family home. Sure, it’s fairly expensive considering the 7-inch version comes in less than £100, but if you’re looking for a quality all-round voice assistant device, you’ll struggle to find one better than this.
Sound Streaming quality: 4/5
Value for money: 3/5
Ease of set-up: 4/5
Where to buy the Google Nest Hub Max
The Google Nest Hub Max is available from a number of retailers:
Currys PC World: £179