They’ve been called loads of different things: smart speakers, personal home assistants and more, but these digital hubs are front and centre of the smart home powered by voice activated artificial intelligence. At Tech we’ve been sceptical about how useful smart home hubs could really be, and whether it is really just a novel tech toy. We were delightfully surprised.
Google’s Home Hub is the top of the range and includes a beautiful 7-inch touchscreen that extends its usefulness far beyond a simple voice-controlled speaker. Music playback is extremely impressive. From just about anywhere nearby we could command it to play any song or album, and it would play flawlessly from Spotify. We even asked it to play ‘calm piano music’ which it found and played without missing a step. The speaker itself is also top-notch, so music sounds great. Altogether, it’s excellent.
Here are some other things that quickly became part of our daily routine: asking about the weather, the fastest route to work, the news headlines and what was on our schedule for the day. Home Hub responded both by voice and on-screen. Of course, Google Assistant also knows who the leader of Zambia is, knows the population of Canada and knows how to make moong dal. Finally, we asked it if we could expect load-shedding, but it appears not even Google knows the answer to that. Digital photos are easily forgotten and overlooked, but this digital frame allows you to link to your favourite online albums so that you can relive your precious memories. It automatically dims and tones the screen to match the surrounding ambience, so it’s never an eyesore.
7” screen, full-range speaker, dual mics, WiFi/Bluetooth, R2 600