First, the smart speakers with their integrated but invisible voice assistants. Then come the smart screens, with the same intelligence but with a touch screen for improved functionality.
Amazon and Google’s Nest division are key players in this game with their respective Echo Show and Nest Hub product lines. All of these devices have touch screens for control and audio, as well as speakers for music, and can be used to control your smart home. Some also have webcams for video calling and even a spinner to follow you around the room.
If you’re looking for a smart display, read on to figure out which one is right for you.
What is a smart screen?
Google’s Nest Hub Max smart displayNest
First, let’s cover the basics. A smart display works much like a smart speaker, like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Nest Audio that you may already own. It has access to the exact same voice assistant (Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant) and can play music, set timers and alarms, and control smart home devices in the same way.
However, the screen unlocks additional features. To begin with, the answers to your questions are displayed on the screen and spoken aloud, often with additional information. Instead of just hearing the weather forecast, you see it too, and the same goes for general knowledge questions, where the answers include additional information and a picture.
When not in use, smart displays cycle through images by default. These images can be completely curated by you, or you can choose from collections of artwork and nature photos offered by Google and Amazon. They also both display the current local time and weather in their idle state.
Smart home control
The Echo Show 10 with its rotating HD screenAmazon
It is possible to speak or interact with the two screens via their touchscreen. With a swipe and a few taps, both systems give you access to systems for setting alarms and timers, and controlling smart home devices like light bulbs, outlets, switches and thermostats.
We prefer the smart home interface of the Nest Hub and the larger Nest Hub Max because it offers a more granular way to view and control devices. Where the Echo Show shows a long list of all your devices, with shortcuts just to organize the list by device type, Nest organizes devices by type or room, and fits the screen more to fit. times without appearing cluttered.
Of course, you’re more likely to use the voice assistant to set up smart home devices and activate scenes or routines. But we prefer the Nest user interface and think it’s more intuitive for those less familiar with the pushes and swipes required to control a smart home. We believe that a less tech-savvy visitor or member of the house might adjust the heat more easily with the Nest than with the Echo Show.
Both systems work with compatible security cameras and video doorbells, where their live video feeds can be viewed on the screen. Amazon’s Echo Show devices can be configured to automatically display the video feed of a Ring doorbell when a visitor presses the button.
Speaking of cameras, the Echo Show 10 and Nest Hub Max can use theirs as a form of home security camera. In the case of the Hub Max, the camera can be used like any other Nest indoor security camera, while the Echo Show 10 can be connected through the Alexa app, where you can see the camera and rotate it. almost 360 degrees – something no Nest camera can do.
A few years ago, it was generally true that Google Assistant was better at spoken language, while Alexa, with its thousands of skills, was able to communicate with more smart home devices. In 2021, there is less difference between the two. Google is arguably still the better communicator, but both systems now work well with a large number of smart home products.
The Nest Hub is available in 7 and 10 inch versionsGoogle
There are two sizes of Nest Hub and three sizes of Echo Show. The Nest Hub has a 7-inch display, and the Nest Hub Max has a 10-inch display (and a camera, which the smaller model lacks). The Echo Show range starts at 5.5 inches for Show 5, then increases to eight inches for Show 8 and 10.1 inches for Show 10.
Neither of those displays are 4K, and the smaller Echo has a resolution of just 960 x 480. But the HD panels on the Echo Show 8 and 10, along with the Nest Hub Max, are perfectly sufficient for watching videos. You’re unlikely to sit down and watch a movie on these, but that’s really not the point. These smart displays are best located in the kitchen or bedroom, where their video output is likely limited to YouTube and the occasional Netflix episode.
Amazon Prime Video on the Echo Show 8Amazon
Both systems include access to a range of streaming apps, including Netflix. However, with Amazon and Google having an in-game streaming skin, there are restrictions on both sides. For example, the Nest Hub offers easy access to YouTube, but Echo Show screens can only access the mobile version of Google’s streaming service through a web browser. Disney + is notably absent from all Amazon Echo Show models.
With the Nest Hub and the Hub Max, content can be streamed using Google’s Chromecast system. Open the video you want to watch on your smartphone or other device, then tap the broadcast icon in the top corner and select the Nest Hub to upload the video to.
It’s a similar story when it comes to music, with the Echo Show having access to Prime Music and the Nest Hub enjoying YouTube Music instead. Both systems have access to Spotify and Apple Music, as well as a wide range of radio stations. They also have Bluetooth to stream all the audio you love from your smartphone or other device.
The smaller Echo Show 5 and Show 8 both have a 3.5mm audio jack for connecting them to larger speakers and audio systems, but the Echo Show 10 and the two Nest Hub models are missing. that.
Unlike their smart speaker siblings, smart displays cannot be used as part of a TV surround sound system. However, they can be added to a home audio network just like any other smart speaker.
Video calling with Amazon Echo Show 10Amazon
Both systems can be used for making voice calls with other Echo Show or Nest Hub owners, and those with cameras can also be used for video calls (only the smaller Nest Hub is missing here, but it can still receive video during a call).
In addition to making video calls between Echo Show devices (and the Alexa app on smartphones), Amazon’s smart displays are equipped with Skype. Nest Hub displays have Google Duo for individual calls, and the larger Nest Hub Max has Google Meet for video conferencing calls.
Which one should you buy?
As is increasingly the case in the smart home industry, which system you subscribe to will depend on what devices you already own. If you already have Nest or Echo products, you need to stick to that side of the fence, and after that, it’s all about choosing the hub or lounge that fits your budget and needs.
If you’re starting a smart home from scratch, choosing between an Echo Show or a Nest Hub becomes more difficult, because there’s really not much to separate. Native YouTube and Chromecast on Nest Hub displays are a great bonus, while the Echo Show 10’s unique motorized motion and high-quality camera are great for video calls and when using the screen while sleeping. cooking. It’s a little scary at first, but the way the screen spins to face you at all times is really helpful when following a recipe.
If you’re looking for a smart display for the bedroom, Echo Show’s two smaller models work well, and we’ve been using a Nest Hub as our bedside clock / alarm clock / radio for a few years now. We especially like that this model is the only one that doesn’t have a camera, which makes it more suitable for the bedroom, and its compact size and auto-dimming display mean it’s not a distraction at night.