Google Nest Hub Max vs. Amazon Echo Show: Battle of the smart home video hubs

    Amazon’s Echo Show has largely remained uncontested in the smart home video hub space, but competition is finally here with the release and availability of the Google Nest Hub Max.

    These are the two options to consider right now if you’re looking at full-sized offerings, as opposed to the smaller, more compact options (think Nest Hub and Echo Show 5) since they offer greater media fidelity and smart home features. Quickly looking at the two, there’s no denying that they closely match in several areas — like screen size, sound quality, and price. But, there can only be one that comes out on top! We’ll dissect everything about them to help you find the right one.

    Sound

    Music aficionados will certainly be pleased by the sound performance out of these two smart displays, delivering excellent sound quality paired with deep bass that can fill larger room spaces. They do well in open spaces, like being a centerpiece somewhere in the living room.

    The Echo Show’s fantastic sound quality is due to its dual 10W 2-inch neodymium drivers with a passive bass radiator and Dolby processing. The speakers fill up the room with multi-dimensional sound, and most people won’t be disappointed by the bass. A neat trick up its sleeve is the ability to adjust the bass and treble by telling Alexa.

    Meanwhile, the Nest Hub Max leverages dual 10W tweeters, accompanied by a 30W subwoofer. The package doesn’t disappoint as the bass roars to the beats, without overpowering the mids and highs. For those who prefer a more neutral audio performance, the bass and treble can be adjusted for a more personalized performance through the Google Home app. The only issue with the Nest Hub Max’s performance is that it can sound strained at higher volumes, but it still packs quite a punch at moderate volume levels.

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    Screen

    When it comes to a video home hub, a great screen is one of the most important features. Both the Echo Show and the Nest Hub Max have big, crystal-clear screens. The Nest Hub Max comes with a 10-inch HD screen with 1,280 x 800 resolution, while the Echo has a 10.1-inch HD screen with 1,280 x 800 resolution. So, basically the screen specs are the same, but the Echo is a tiny bit bigger.

    Thanks to their larger screens, it makes media consumption a lot more tasteful. Take for example reading step-by-step instructions on a dish you’re preparing, or perhaps watching a YouTube clip on that particular dish — it’s a lot easier to do on these smart displays than on your smartphone.

    What makes the Google Nest Hub Max’s screen so unique and unlike anything else out there is the Ambient EQ technology that adjusts the screen’s look to make it look more life-like. We’re serious when we say that it’s the best looking digital photo frame around, nothing comes close to replicating its beautiful looks.

    Nest Hub Max

    Camera

    The camera category is what sets these two hubs apart. The Echo has a 5MP camera, which isn’t bad. It’s just that the Nest Hub Max has so much more.

    The Nest Hub Max includes a 6.5MP camera with a 127-degree field of view, auto-framing, and face-match technology. This means that the camera can identify you and bring up your personal calendar and other items on the screen when you approach. Also, when you are on a video call, it will follow you as you move around the room, keeping you in the shot.

    The Nest Hub Max camera can also be used as a Nest Cam security camera, as well, and can detect movements and unfamiliar faces. There’s a 30 day trial of the Nest Aware program, which offers cloud storage and some more advanced features, but the starting cost of the basic plan costs $5 per month after the trial expires. Even if you don’t subscribe to the service, you’re stilling getting an additional layer of security for your home because you can tap into a live feed at any time through the Google Home app — offering you even more peace of mind.

    And lastly, holding your hand out to the camera will pause or play video when the camera recognizes you’re looking at it.

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    Smart home compatibility

    When it comes to compatibility with your other smart home devices, you’re going to be pleased with either option. The big difference is Nest. Both hubs are compatible with Nest cameras, though remember that Nest Hub Max can become a Nest security camera. You can check to see if your devices are compatible with Echo here and compatible with Nest Hub Max here.

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    Echo Show using a Nest security camera

    Video calls

    Who do you want to call with your hub? The video calling capabilities may be something that sways you towards one hub or the other. Echo allows you to connect with anyone who has the Alexa app, Skype, an Echo Spot, or Echo Show. Nest Hub Max, on the other hand, let you connect through Google Duo. Duo works with Android phones, iPhones, and Chrome browsers. It’s a personal preference, but we really appreciate how the auto-framing and zooming feature with the Next Hub Max keeps us in view — no matter how close or far away we are from the camera, we’re always in the frame. This gives you some flexibility to move around since you’re not confined to just one spot.

    Price

    When it comes to price, these two hubs are evenly matched. The Google Nest Hub Max comes in with a retail price of $229 while the Amazon Echo Show’s retail price is $230.

    Conclusion

    Echo Show and Nest Hub Max are very similar smart home video hubs. They both are competitively priced, have great sound and video, feature intelligent virtual assistants, and even act superbly to control various connected gadgets in the home, but the Google Nest Hub Max tips the scales thanks largely to its camera abilities and exceptional looking display. Doubling as a useful security camera adds to its value, while the Ambient IQ technology helps to transform the Nest Hub Max into the best looking digital photo frame around. Those are things that the Amazon Echo Show just can’t match. Unless you’re heavily invested in Amazon’s ecosystem, the Google Nest Hub Max makes for the better buy.

    Nest Hub Max tilted view
    John Velasco/Digital Trends

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