Smart displays seem to be taking over our homes and Google launched one in India some time ago. An upgraded version of the device is already available in the US, but the Nest Hub sold in India is a well-engineered product with a host of features. Powered by the incredibly smart Google Assistant, the slightly tilted 7-inch touch display with rounded corners, thick bezels and a speaker at the rear (it is mounted on the speaker base) looks elegant and unobtrusive. In fact, one can easily confuse it for a 7-inch tablet.
Nest Hub cannot be configured from the device itself and I had to use the Google Home app to set it up. The touch response was impressive and when I asked for the usual information - weather updates, latest news, commute distance, day's schedule, recipes and more - the Nest Hub displayed everything in a couple of seconds. It also fetched videos from YouTube when I gave a voice command. The YouTube Music app is also there, but I was able to link it with my Spotify account for more. Voice command was good enough to switch tracks or control volume, but it can also be done by swiping up from the bottom and accessing shortcuts. I also used the device to control compatible smart lighting and appliances and set routines. For instance, the bedtime routine started with playing soothing music to help me fall asleep and woke me in the morning with an alarm.
What I loved most is the way it helped me relive my memories with its digital photo frame. When setting it up, I allowed it to access my pictures from Google Photos so that selected images could be viewed on the small display. But at times, many of these pictures appeared to be zoomed-in or cropped. However, the Ambient EQ sensor at the top of the screen smoothly auto-adjusted brightness and colours to match the room's ambient light and temperature.
All privacy issues have been taken care of as this version of the Nest Hub does not come with a camera, and I can easily mute the microphone by pressing the button at the rear to prevent it from listening into my private conversations. The only shortcoming is the average sound output, which is flat and lacks bass. Moreover, in the absence of a camera, you cannot make a video call, but you can always set up Google Duo on this device and make voice calls.