Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) Review: Smart display that tracks your sleep

The Google Nest Hub (2nd gen), as its name suggests, is the second generation of Google’s smart display with some new features.

For the uninitiated, the Nest Hub is a smart speaker like the Nest Mini, but with a 7-inch touchscreen display. As such, you can control your supported smart home devices with a tap or swipe.

Google Nest Hub (2nd gen). (Photo: Google)

Launched only mid-Nov last year in Singapore, the second generation Nest Hub is S$50 cheaper than the original. But it now comes with three microphones (up from two in the original) and better speakers said to have 50% more bass.

SPECS
PRICE: S$139, available in Google Store, Lazada and Shopee
DISPLAY: 7-inch touchscreen, 1,024 x 600 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
WEIGHT: 558g

Another new feature is its Sleep Sensing feature, which is able to track your sleep, thanks to its built-in Soli sensor first found in Pixel 4 smartphone. In addition, the smart display can even pick up your coughing and snoring during your sleeps.

DESIGN
In terms of design, the Nest Hub (2nd gen) has not changed much from the original. There are still big white bezels around the display with a fixed tilt. But the edging around the bezels is gone in the second generation. This offers a cleaner look.

Its stand has a cloth fabric feel to it and comes in two colours of chalk (grey) and charcoal (black). I prefer the reviewed chalk version, as its greyish tones do not look so jarring compared to the the black version.

This is what you get out of the box. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Out of the box, you get a power cord, the Nest Hub (2nd gen) and a tiny leaflet out of the box. Setting up the Nest Hub (2nd gen) is a breeze. Just plug in the power cord, power the device and use Google Home app on your Android smartphone or iPhone to set it up. You can add compatible smart home devices into this smart display and control them from here.

PERFORMANCE
While the Nest Hub (2nd gen) can access content from Youtube, Netflix and Spotify, its display is too small and low resolution for you to really enjoy it. I think shows from Netflix and Disney+ should be enjoyed in bigger screens like a big 65-inch smart TV.

FOR
+ Sleep tracking without a wearable
+ Good audio output for a smart display
+ Nice Gesture controls
+ Cheaper than its predecessor

AGAINST
– Sleep tracking free only until end 2022
– Design remains unchanged
– Sluggish touchscreen

Not to mention, I found the display to be a tad sluggish when I am tapping or swiping on it. As such, it feels like a second slower when you want to play a music or change a wallpaper.

However, due to the Soli sensor, you can actually use some motion gestures like point your finger and “air tap” to play music or wave your hand to snooze an alarm.

Setting up the Nest Hub (2nd gen) is a breeze. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Of course, you can always ask the smart display’s Google Assistant to help you with these tasks and it is quite responsive to your requests.

I did not own the original Nest Hub. Thus, I cannot tell whether the bass is better. But audio output is certainly not bad from a smart display at this price point.

You will be guided by the Nest Hub on how to configure and enable the sleep tracking feature. Basically, you will need to ensure the smart display is angled towards with no obstacles in between. Next, lay down on the bed where you usually sleep and make sure no one is around before the calibration begins. In other words, the Nest Hub (2nd gen) will need to be your bedside alarm clock or night stand. Also, you need to put in your usual sleep schedule like from 11am to 7pm.

You need to ensure that there is nothing between you and Nest Hub (2nd gen). (Photo: Trevor Tan)

After “sleeping” with the Nest Hub (2nd gen) for two weeks, I found the sleep tracking to be quite accurate. The readings do not differ much from that of Huawei Watch GT 3 or Fitbit Charge 5.

I find it refreshing that I do not need to wear a fitness tracker or a smartwatch to bed. But yet, I was able to get insights of my sleeps, such as stages of sleep including light, REM (rapid eye movements), deep, and awake. Depending on your sleep quality, it will recommend steps to improve your sleep, like meditations to try.

At only S$139, the Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) is a nice smart display to have. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Furthermore, very few smartwatches or fitness trackers are able to detect your coughing and snoring. But this smart display is able to show the times and duration of any coughs or snoring. It is good to prove to your spouse that you are not snoring the whole night but only sometimes in the night.

The Nest Hub (2nd gen) does not have a camera, so you do not need to worry about videos of your unsightly sleep being seen. Moreover, data like coughing and snoring is stored on the device itself. You can also opt to disable the coughing and snoring detection even with the sleep tracking enabled.

On the downside, Sleep Sensing can only be used on one person. So if your partner wants to get sleep tracking, he or she will have to get another Nest Hub (2nd gen). Plus, Sleep Sensing is only free till the end of this year. Google plans to integrate Sleep Sensing into Fitbit Premium (S$14.48 per month) next year.

VERDICT
The Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) is an affordable smart display that not only allows you to control supported smart home devices easily but offers great sleep tracking feature for free. At least until the end of this year.

RATINGS
FEATURES: 7.5/10
DESIGN: 8/10
PERFORMANCE: 7.5/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 9/10
OVERALL: 7.5/10