Google’s second-generation smart screen Nest Hub now comes with radar-based sleep tracking as it tries to keep Amazon’s Alexa.
The new Nest Hub costs £ 89.99 per launch, making it cheaper than its predecessor and slightly undermining competitors of similar size.
The second generation unit has the same design as the original, but is a bit taller. The 7-inch LCD screen looks great and is sharp enough for viewing at your fingertips or beyond, making it perfect for use as a digital photo frame. The body is now made of recycled plastic, and the screen is covered with rimless glass, making it easier to wipe.
The screen is mounted on a fabric sock that features a louder speaker with 50% more bass than its predecessor. Sounds better than the Nest Mini, but not as powerful as Nest Audio or speakers of a similar size.
New to the Nest Hub are ultrasound and Google’s miniature Soli radar sensors, which enable advanced features without compromising on camera privacy. Ultrasound is used to detect when people are nearby, while at the same time increasing the size of the text when you are away.
Salt tracks movement for two characteristics. The first is the sense of movement, which was first introduced on the company’s Pixel 4 phone in 2019 and tracks hand movements that allow you to pause music, silence alarms and the like. The second is sleep monitoring.
Nest Hub uses its radar to track the breathing and sleeping patterns of the person lying next to it, without the need for a wrist or headband. Place it on a bedside table at arm’s length and go to bed as usual.
The device records how long you sleep, restless periods and, optionally, how many times you cough or snore using microphones. The data is processed locally at the hub using built-in artificial intelligence, but is then synchronized with Google’s longtime Fit health service so you can see your data on your phone. You can’t turn off data sync with Google Fit, but you can delete or share it with other services.
A summary of sleep last night or during the last week can also be displayed on the screen. The results were surprisingly good, recording similar sleep length and joint-based sleep monitoring disorders using the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar and Withings Sleep Analyzer mat under the mattress.
It does not record sleep cycles or heart rate, which is a key health metric during sleep, but for a non-contact sleep monitoring system that does not require the wearing of special equipment, I was impressed. It can give you tips for better sleep and help you sleep consistently, suggesting an optimized time after two weeks of monitoring.
However, there is a potential catch. The sensation of sleep is in the “free examination” only until the end of the year. The company says it is “learning and innovating on this new technology, and also exploring how Sensing Sleep can become part of the Fitbit and Fitbit Premium experiences” following Google’s recent acquisition of a fitness tracker manufacturer. This means that Google could start charging for some or all of its sleep tracking features, as it does for advanced sleep tracking analysis as part of its Fitbit Premium subscription.
Nest Hub can operate so-called sunrise alarms. Here, the screen is gradually illuminated with warm colors simulating the sunrise in the period immediately before the audible alarm that will wake you up slightly. It works well if you accidentally sleep facing him in a dark room, but you will fight otherwise. Nest Hub can also turn on smart lights from independent manufacturers for greater effect.
Plus all the usual smart screen features
Nest Hub can also do all the usual things of a smart assistant. It can show you recipes, searches, set timers and alarms, manage a large number of independent smart home devices, and even stream live feed from compatible smart cameras, such as Google’s Nest Hello ringtone.
It plays music and radio, including BBC stations, Spotify and via Bluetooth, and can be grouped with other Google speakers for multi-room sound. You can transfer the video to the screen as you would on a TV or Chromecast from most media apps, or play videos directly from Netflix, Disney, and YouTube. The 7-inch screen is big enough just for short things or watching TV while doing something else, like cooking.
It will also play news, weather, and personal information such as calendar events, your business trip, and other things synced to your Google Account. Google Now can recognize an individual’s voice to provide personalized information such as calendars or music from their Spotify. You can even make voice calls via Google Duo, but not video calls because it lacks a camera.
Nest Hub is generally repairable. The case is made of 54% recycled plastic for consumers, as part of Google’s commitment to include recycled materials in all of its products launched from 2022. The company publishes environmental impact reports for some of its products, but has not yet released a report for the updated Nest Hub. Google will recycle devices for free.
Thread radio has been installed, which will later be enabled to connect to the next generation of new smart home devices being developed by various manufacturers.
You can quickly erase sleep data from the screen for up to two hours after waking up, and you can pause sleep tracking with the quick settings button.
The interface is generally fast enough, if not very fast, but can be a bit sluggish to respond to streaming videos from a smart camera.
The first setup of Nest Hub is done via the Google Home app on Android or iPhone and takes less than five minutes.
The second-generation Google Nest Hub costs £ 89.99.
By comparison, the Google Nest Hub Max costs £ 189, the Lenovo Smart Clock £ 34.99, the Amazon Echo Show 5 £ 79.99, the Echo Show 8 £ 99.99, and the Echo Show £ 10,239.99.
The second-generation Google Nest Hub offers quite a few features imprinted in a compact, easy-to-live device.
It is very similar to the first generation, but it is useful to add radar for gestures and sleep monitoring. It may not record your heart rate or sleep cycle, but it provides easy sleep monitoring without the need to carry or recharge anything. Another thing is if you want a Google sleep tracking device in your bedroom.
The speaker is better, but not as good as the bigger smart speakers. Google Assistant is the smartest voice assistant in the group, and the small 7-inch screen is one of the best digital photo frames you can buy, but it can be a bit sluggish here and there.
It is slightly cheaper than similar competitors and will probably be downgraded fairly quickly. Meanwhile, the first-generation Nest Hub is shifting to £ 60 or less.
Pros: sleep tracking without bracelet or headband, good screen, decent speaker, Google Assistant, hand gestures, support for broadcasting videos and music, BBC radio, recycled plastic, no camera due to doubts.
Against: The 7-inch screen is a bit small for video, can be a bit slow at times, there is no camera for video chat.