Following my recent test of the Amazon Echo Show, I was curious to see how the comparable Google Nest Hub would perform as a digital picture frame.
So I ordered a 7” unit and ran my digital picture frame testing routine.
In a nutshell: The Google Nest Hub is quite different from the Amazon Echo Show and has a number of advantages for photo lovers. But it also has one big drawback.
My tests are unbiased. There are no financial or material donations to be disclosed. I bought this review unit myself.
Echoing the Echo
It took a while for Google to react to the ever-growing popularity of the Amazon Echo devices. Under the acquired Nest brand they launched the Nest Mini (the equivalent of the Alexa Dot), the Nest Hub with a display, and the Google Home speakers.
Both Amazon and Google are continuously launching (and discontinuing) new models to find out what consumers really want. The devices connect to their respective ecosystems to include voice control (in this case: Google Assistant), integrate with home automation systems, play music, show the weather forecast and many other features.
I am still a bit disappointed by the quality of the voice recognition, be it Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa but I hope this will improve over time.
Both brands also integrate nicely with Google Photos or Amazon Photos which offer a fairly similar performance.
As the Google Nest hub is likely to have a prominent place in the kitchen, living room or on your desk, it makes sense to also use the device as a digital picture frame.
I was especially interested to know if the Google Nest Hub was better as a digital picture frame as the Echo Show?
General setup of Google’s Nest Hub
Setting up the Google Nest Hub requires no manual. All you have to enter in the WiFi password and download the Google Home app on your iPhone or Android.
Google will ask you for your Google account that you want to use with the hub and then makes the integration.
In this article, I will focus on the use of the Google Nest Hub as a digital picture frame. Can it replace a Nixplay Seed or a comparably sized frame?
Using the Google Nest Hub as a digital picture frame
My first impression was that the Google developers really understand the digital picture frame. While I had to look around for a while with the Amazon Echo Show, the photo display mode is very much in focus.
The menu of the Google Nest Hub is incredibly easy, it’s basically just one row which you swipe up. However, just swiping isn’t enough. You also have to speak up.
To change the picture frame settings, you have to orally state your desire and say “Ok Google, change picture frame” or whatever the words maybe in your language.
Unlike on the Amazon Echo Show, you can fully select to show or hide informational items like the time or the weather. I didn’t quite understand why this wasn’t possible on the Echo device and was pleased that this works nicely on the Google Nest Hub.
You can define the display duration to up to ten minutes, whereas on the Echo it is fixed at one minute. What I found very pleasing was that the display doesn’t keep changing every 30 seconds like on the Echo.
This created quite some nervousness and visual disruption especially when the device is placed on a desk next to your monitor and is the key reason why I wouldn’t use the Echo as a digital picture frame in such a setting.
You can voice control the playback by saying e.g. “Ok Google, next image”.
The one thing I wasn’t able to find out was how to set the language of the menu. No amount of Google searching brought any clarity except for the fact that others seem to struggle with the same issue. That’s why the screenshots here are in German and not English.
The Google Nest Hub hardware
The Google Nest Hub comes with a 7-inch display which is not too great if you want to use it as a digital picture frame. Anything under a 10 inches screen size if just a tad too small.
Google seems to have recognized that and has recently launched a 10-inch HD touchscreen version, the Nest Hub Max, which at the time of writing, is only available in the US but will surely hit the shores of other countries in the not too distant future.
The Nest Hub Max also comes with much better speakers and a camera for video calls but for our purpose, the biggest advantage is the much bigger screen. At US$ 229 it is US$ 140 more expensive than the 7 inches version.
The Nest Hub is available in 4 colors but always comes with a white frame. I would prefer a black option but that’s up to your personal preference.
One little thing I really liked
The Google Nest Hub comes with an integrated ambient light sensor and adjusts the screen brightness accordingly. But what I really liked was that when you turn light off, a large nightstand clock will appear in the most discreet way.
It’s a little detail, but one that struck me as really nicely done.
So, which hub would I recommend? The Amazon Echo Show or the Google Nest Hub?
The Google Nest Hub has a much better picture frame functionality overall but is only available in 7 inches which is very small – unless you go for the much more expensive Nest Hub Max when it will be available in your region.
The Amazon Echo Hub is available with a ten inches screen but has this nervousness when you look at the constantly changing screen with the time or weather icons jumping from one position to another every 30 seconds. This would be easy to fix with a software upgrade and maybe Amazon will address this issue in a future release.
Much of your choice will probably depend on your ecosystem at home, if it’s based on Alexa or Google Assistant.
Both hubs will work for casual photo viewing which is probably fine for most kitchens. But if you want something better in the 10 inches range, you may want to have a look at the Nixplay models.
(Photos: Wolfgang Männel)
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