This is the all-new second-generation Nest Hub from Google and while it may not look that different from the original Google smart display, there’s more here than meets the eye. Apart from the significantly cheaper debut price, the 2nd gen Nest Hub offers up some very useful features that might make you think twice about buying a smart display from another manufacturer.
The original Nest Hub debuted way back in 2018 and honestly, it’s still a great device today. It originally sold for $149 which made it feel a tad pricey considering the fact that it didn’t have a camera but Google quickly took down that hurdle by knocking sixty dollars off of the MSRP. And Even now, you can grab the first-generation Nest Hub at your local Best Buy for a cool $90 bucks, and – in my opinion – it’s worth every penny. Should you run out and buy the original Nest Hub? Probably not and here’s why.
Google recently launched the second iteration of the Nest Hub smart display and it comes bearing some features that are aimed squarely at users who are focused on personal health and well-being. Now, at first glance, the new Nest Hub doesn’t appear to have changed much at all from the original smart display. As a matter of fact, the only notable design differences are the edge-to-edge glass on the 7” display and – well – that’s about it. However, on the inside, the new Nest Hub is packing “motion sense” which is powered by Google’s low-power Soli radar. This technology made its somewhat disappointing debut on the Pixel 4 and though it may have failed on phones, Motion Sense has a lot of potential on Google’s new smart display. The Soli-powered sensor works in tandem with the onboard microphones and light sensors to provide feedback on how you sleep at night. This makes the second-gen Nest Hub the first-ever Assistant smart display with built-in sleep tracking.
So? Does it work?
I spent a little over a week letting the nest hub track my sleep and while I was a bit surprised at my results, I can say it appears to be relatively accurate. Keep in mind, the display doesn’t have a camera. It is relying solely on motion sense and the microphones to keep tabs on how you’re sleeping. That said, Sleep Sensing isn’t going to provide you with the in-depth analysis of your sleep cycles like you’d get from say a Fitbit or a decent smartwatch. I can wear my TicWatch Pro to bed and I will see data on when I was in light or deep sleep and even get my oxygen levels and pulse rates throughout the night. If you’re looking to get this kind of data – sorry – you aren’t going to replace your wearable. I wear a watch every day but I can not stand wearing one to bed. That’s why the new Nest Hub really appealed to me. Again, this isn’t a deep look into your sleep patterns but the nest hub does track useful data like when you snore or cough and it even tells you how long it took you to fall asleep.
I don’t feel like I sleep as soundly as I used to and I thought “maybe this could give me some insight as to why” Coincidentally, I started hitting the gym a few weeks ago and I’ve been resting a lot better than I once did. That change seems to be reflected in the data from the nest hub. Admittedly, I snore on occasion when I’m restless but the nest hub reported zero snoring for the past week and there are very few points during the night when my sleep was “disturbed.” My wife corroborated that she hasn’t heard my melodious snoring as of late.
Now, the nest hub doesn’t inherently give you a better night’s sleep. Instead, it gives you insights into those times when you may be more restless due to environmental factors. Based on your normal bedtime and the time you usually get up, the nest hub will aggregate your sleep data and give you suggestions on how you can improve your rest. For me, Google recommended that I stick to a more consistent sleep schedule. Since I go to the gym around 5 am, that’s not something that I can change at the moment because, on my off days, I obviously sleep a bit later. So, if you’re looking to get a basic snapshot of how you’re sleeping and you don’t like donning a wearable while you sleep – the second-gen nest hub is where you should look.
Another advantage of motion sense is the simple actions that can be done by simply waving your hand in front of the display. While my wife swears that she doesn’t mind hearing my alarm at 4:30 in the morning, I don’t want to add to the disturbance by yelling “stop” at my smart display. With the nest hub, you can simply wave your hand to snooze your alarm. On top of that, you can use motion gestures to play and pause your music which – by the way- sounds so much better than the audio on the original nest hub. Google touted a 50% increase in bass response on the new nest hub and they weren’t lying. What’s more, the boost in bass translates to a richer, fuller sound across the board. The first-gen nest hub isn’t bad and it works for listening to an occasional song or a podcast but the second-gen hub is actually enjoyable to listen to and that’s a big plus in my book.
For me, these features alone are enough to recommend the newer, more-capable nest hub and we haven’t even discussed the price yet. Like I mentioned earlier, you can grab the OG google smart display for $89 but the second-gen -with all its upgrades – will only run you $99. Even if you aren’t interested in the sleep features – which are 100 percent optional on your part – the extra ten dollars is well worth it when we’re talking about the audio improvement. Plus, the new nest hub is somewhat future-proofed with a built-in Thread radio that will make it compatible with the emerging smart home standard that makes it easier to connect all of your smart devices regardless of who made them.
Should you buy the new Nest Hub from Google? Well, if you’re looking for a full-featured smart display and you want to make video calls, you’ll need to go with the nest hub max or a third-party display that has a camera. If you don’t care about the camera the second-generation Nest Hub is probably, pound for pound, the best option around and the only one that gives you sleep tracking. And if you’re a Fitbit user, your sleep tracking data will be imported to your Fitbit app. If not, you can find the info on the display itself as well as in the google fit app. My only caution in buying this solely for sleep tracking is that Google has hinted at making this a paid feature. There aren’t any details on when that could happen or how much it will cost but be forewarned, it may not be free forever. You can find the all-new Nest Hub 2 on the Google Store, at Best Buy, and most major authorized Google retailers for $99.