Title: Is the Google Nest Hub a Wise Purchase Amidst Uncertainty?
As we approach the holiday season, it’s essential to evaluate the current state of the Google Nest Hub and determine whether it remains a worthwhile investment. Over the past year, the Nest Hub has witnessed more feature removals than additions, leaving consumers questioning its value. With Google Assistant undergoing a transition and the company cutting back on certain functionalities, it’s crucial to consider the future prospects of this smart display.
The Transition of Google Assistant:
Google Assistant is undergoing a transformation to incorporate generative AI and large language models (LLMs). This transition, known as the “with Bard” experience, will initially debut on phones like the Pixel 8. As a result, the legacy Assistant experience has suffered from functionality loss, with Google discontinuing support for Assistant voice apps, including games, third-party notes/lists, and some smart home integrations on the Nest Hub. This shift towards a more app-centric approach on Android devices has excluded Smart Displays, limiting their capabilities to first-party experiences.
Current Features and Limitations:
Despite these changes, the Nest Hub still offers essential features such as controlling smart home devices from various manufacturers and accessing content from different services. Additionally, users can enjoy slideshows, timer/alarm functions, and simple commands for weather updates, sports scores, and other similar queries. If you primarily seek a music streaming device and a Google Home controller, the discounted 2nd-gen Nest Hub, priced at $49.99 (usually $99.99), remains a reasonable purchase.
Comparing the Nest Hub to the Pixel Tablet:
While the Nest Hub satisfies basic requirements, it falls short of offering the same functionality as the Pixel Tablet. The 2019 Nest Hub Max, currently priced at $129 (originally $229), may not justify its higher cost, as its only notable advantages are improved speakers, a better camera, a larger screen for displaying an always-on clock, and occasional video playback.
The Need for Future Updates:
However, it is crucial for Google to provide clarity about the future of Assistant for the Nest Hub and deliver meaningful updates. Smart Displays have the potential to offer more features than traditional alarm clocks or digital photo frames. Unfortunately, progress in this area has stagnated, with only minor updates being rolled out sporadically. Google’s apparent delay in releasing a significant redesign of the Smart Display UI, first spotted in March 2022, further adds to the uncertainty surrounding the Nest Hub’s future.
In its current state, the Google Nest Hub remains a viable option for those seeking a music streaming device and a basic smart home controller. However, with the lack of meaningful updates and uncertainty about the future of Assistant for this form factor, consumers should exercise caution when considering a purchase. As the holiday season approaches, it is essential to evaluate one’s needs and assess whether the Nest Hub’s current features align with those requirements.
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