The Google Nest Hub Max is the most advanced smart speaker/display unit that Google has put out yet, with all the power of Google Assistant combined with a 10-inch display, a hefty speaker capable of filling a room with music, and a security camera mode.
Thanks to the camera on the front of the Nest Hub Max (which doesn't appear on the standard Nest Hub), you can use the smart display to keep an eye on your home while you're away – effectively turning the Nest Hub Max into another Nest camera.
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We've had the Google Nest Hub Max set up for several days now and here are our thoughts on what it can bring to your smart home – from automatically recognising your face to providing a central hub for managing all the other smart home gear you've got set up.
If you've already got a Google Home or a Google Home Mini speaker, then you'll know pretty much what to expect from the Google Nest Hub Max – the extra display means visual feedback for your commands and questions, as well as built-in Chromecast functionality.
Google Nest Hub Max review: hardware design
Like the Google Nest Hub (previously the Google Home Hub), this is a well-built device. Google's hardware business is well established now, and that shows in the build quality and design of the products it's putting out now – the Nest Hub Max looks really smart (as well as being smart on the inside too).
The 1,280 x 800 pixel, 10-inch screen is sharp and bright, and is big enough to comfortably watch YouTube (via the Chromecast function) if you're sat close to it. If you're watching something or listening to something while cooking in the kitchen, for instance, it's ideal. Oddly though, Netflix won't Chromecast to the display – it seems to have stricter rules about what counts as a display and what doesn't.
Audio performance from the two 18 mm 10W tweeters and single 75 mm 30W woofer is really impressive: not Sonos speaker impressive, but certainly great for filling a room with high-quality music. Your colour choices are chalk or charcoal, which should match up with whatever decor you've picked for your home.
When it's not in use, the Google Nest Hub Max can display a choice of clock faces, or a slideshow of your Google Photos, so it is serving a purpose even if it's just sat there (it automatically dims in the dark as well, which is a nice touch). That 10-inch screen is a touchscreen, so you can touch the display to interact with it, as well as shout out your commands for Google Assistant to respond to.
Google Nest Hub Max review: software features
Google Assistant sits at the centre of the Google Nest Hub Max experience, and it's getting better all the time. You're probably already familiar with everything that the Google Assistant can do, from telling you what's coming up on your Google Calendar, to providing you with the weather forecast, to telling you how long it's going to take to drive to the office. While the Assistant is great on a speaker, the display makes it even more useful.
The fact that the Google Nest Hub Max doubles up as a Chromecast really adds to the appeal of the device: you can beam everything from a Spotify playlist to a movie stored on your Plex server to the screen, and then control playback using whatever device the app is on, or by pushing the on-screen controls on the Nest Hub Max itself (this doesn't work for Netflix though, as we've already mentioned).
Needless to say everything works seamlessly – the Nest Hub Max is even able to recognise your face, and the faces of everyone else in your house, personalising the information that shows up on screen (like your upcoming schedule). The on-board camera enables you to make video calls through Google Duo, and as we've already mentioned, the device is able to double-up as a Nest camera as well.
In tandem with the Google Home app for Android or iOS, the Nest Hub Max excels as a central point for controlling cameras, smart bulbs, smart plugs, smart thermostats and other compatible gear. Smart devices that work with Google Assistant can be added in a matter of minutes.
Google Nest Hub Max review: price and verdict
The Nest Hub Max shows Google really hitting its stride – in terms of its hardware, and in terms of its Google Assistant, and in terms of its smart home strategy. It's a polished bit of hardware, inside and out, and it's going to appeal to a broad selection of people. If you're struggling for space or don't need the camera feature, then consider a Google Home speaker or the smaller Nest Hub instead.
With a 10-inch screen, the Nest Hub Max is a viable option for watching video, which is less the case with the Nest Hub – it's like the difference between watching movies on a tablet and on a smartphone. The larger size means the audio performance is improved too, and the Nest Hub Max really is a solid all-round performer.
At more than £200 direct from Google (check the widgets on this page for the latest deals), it is an expensive device: that's another reason why you might just want to settle for a Google Home Mini instead. If you can afford it though, we don't think you're going to be disappointed with what the Google Nest Hub Max offers.
Of course if your home is already full of Nest cams, Nest thermostats and Google Home speakers, then the Nest Hub Max becomes even more appealing pick for your next bit of smart home kit. If you've already invested heavily into the Amazon ecosystem on the other hand, then something like the Amazon Echo Show might make more sense.