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Is the Nest Hub a Smart Purchase Amidst Uncertainty?

Title: Is the Nest Hub a Worthwhile Purchase Amidst Uncertainty?

As we approach the holiday season, the question arises: is the Google Nest Hub still a good buy considering the recent removal of features and uncertainty surrounding its future? With Google Assistant undergoing a transition and the company focusing on generative AI and large language models, it’s essential to assess whether the Nest Hub is a worthwhile investment in its current state.

The Evolution of Google Assistant:
Google Assistant is undergoing a transformation, incorporating generative AI and large language models to enhance its capabilities. This transition, known as the “with Bard” experience, is set to debut on devices like the Pixel 8. However, as Google works towards this, the legacy Assistant experience has seen functionality cuts, especially on the Nest Hub. Earlier this year, Google ended support for Assistant voice apps, games, third-party notes/lists, and some smart home integrations on the Nest Hub. This shift indicates a move towards a more app-centric approach on other devices, leaving Smart Displays somewhat limited in terms of third-party experiences.

Current Functionality:
Despite the removal of certain features, the Nest Hub still offers a range of essential functions. Users can control smart home devices from various manufacturers, enjoy content from various services, and utilize features like slideshows, timers/alarms, and simple commands for weather and sports scores. For those seeking a music streaming device and a Google Home controller, the Nest Hub, especially when discounted, remains a solid choice.

Comparing Nest Hub Models:
The 2nd-gen Nest Hub from 2021, priced at $49.99 (usually $99.99), satisfactorily fulfills basic tasks. However, the 2019 Nest Hub Max, currently priced at $129 (from $229), offers additional features such as better speakers and a camera, along with a larger screen for an always-on clock and occasional video playback. While the Nest Hub Max provides some improvements, it may not be a compelling upgrade for most users.

The Need for Meaningful Updates:
Nevertheless, this may be the last year Google can continue selling the Nest Hub without providing clarity on the future of Assistant for this form factor or delivering substantial updates. What sets Smart Displays apart from traditional alarm clocks or digital photo frames is their potential for expanded functionality. However, over the past few years, updates for Smart Displays have been relatively stagnant, with only minor tweaks and improvements. Google’s apparent delay in rolling out a significant redesign of the Smart Display UI, first spotted in March 2022, further adds to the uncertainty surrounding the Nest Hub’s future.

While the current state of the Nest Hub raises some concerns, it still serves as a reliable device for controlling smart home devices and streaming music. However, potential buyers should be aware of the limitations and the lack of clarity regarding future updates and improvements. As we approach the end of the year, it becomes increasingly important for Google to provide meaningful updates and outline the future of Assistant for Smart Displays. Until then, the decision to purchase the Nest Hub should be made with a cautious understanding of its current capabilities and potential limitations.

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