Technology Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) review: More for your money
Free audiobooks on Google Home: Here's how to listen to both paid and free options
You don't need Audible to listen to audiobooks on your Google Nest smart speakers (but you can do that too).For most people, "audiobooks" is practically synonymous with Amazon's paid Audible service, but there's no direct way to play Audible titles on a Google Home. It's totally possible, and we'll show you the workaround to get it up and running, but -- even better -- there are ways to listen to free audiobooks on your Google Nest smart speakers, too.
If you own a Google smart display, chances are it's the first-generation . There have been others: the powered by Google Assistant or the pricey, camera-equipped . At $130 and often on sale, the smaller Nest Hub was the go-to for many smart home consumers.
Now, there's a new model replacing it. The second-gen Nest Hub is cheaper at $100 (£90, AU$149) and smarter too. What's not to love? Well, like , Google showed up with a new feature that might creep you out: Sleep Sensing.
Yes, Sleep Sensing is the shiny new feature on the second-gen Nest Hub, but that's not the whole story. The new Nest Hub is also 30% cheaper than the original, with 50% more bass, new color options and a more eco-friendly design. Google's new and improved smart display is the best bet for most smart homes.
Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) review: A great smart display and mediocre sleep tracker
The idea of someone or something watching you sleep is creepy as hell — unless you’re Bella Swan from Twilight. But Google’s latest effort in the health and wellness space does almost exactly that. The new Nest Hub has a built-in radar sensor that detects motion in your bed to determine if you’ve fallen asleep, then tracks the duration and quality of your slumber. It’ll also see if you’ve coughed or snored and simultaneously monitor how bright or warm it is in your room. That’s all in the name of helping you sleep better while avoiding the use of an actual camera — an intentional design choice meant to allay privacy concerns.
The big feature headlining the new Nest Hub is . It uses Google's miniature radar technology called to detect submillimeter movements of the person sleeping closest to the display.
During setup, a visual guide shows you where to place and aim the display (spoiler: it should be on your nightstand for best results) and asks you to get into your normal sleep position for a few seconds of calibration. After that, you're good to go. A small icon appears on the top right corner of the display when it senses someone in bed, and a larger, banner notification pops up when the display begins tracking sleep.
I tried fooling the display by reading in bed and wasn't able to. That's likely because the display also tracks sound, light and respiratory rates. With all those environmental clues, the display gathered that I wasn't sleeping.
Engadget Podcast: Reviewing Google's sleep-stalking smart display
This week, Cherlynn and Devindra are joined by UK bureau chief Mat Smith to dive deeper into our review of Google’s new Nest Hub. Is the sleep-tracking smart display creepy or cool? Plus, loads of updatesfromGoogle and a peek at Xiaomi’s first foldable phone. Listen below, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!Engadget · Reviewing the Google Nest Hub and a peek at Xiaomi’s foldableSubscribe!iTunesSpotifyPocket CastsStitcherGoogle PodcastsTopicsGoogle’s Nest Hub sleep-trac
The Nest Hub also offers a Respiratory Wellness feature that records how often the display heard coughing or snoring during the night, as well as your respiratory rate (the number of breaths you take per minute) during sleep. Those are things my smart watch can't do. While Google partnered with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to build a, the Nest Hub doesn't claim to diagnose or pinpoint any specific health conditions, and it isn't certified in any way as a health or medical device. Google's disclaimer on the product site and app reads:
"Sleep Sensing is not intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, prevent or treat any disease or condition. Consult your healthcare professional for questions about your health."
The upside of having a wearable, as annoying as it might feel falling asleep with something on your wrist, is that it goes where I go. So on a Sunday morning, when I get out of bed, feed the dog and "accidentally" fall back asleep on the couch, that impromptu nap gets recorded and added to my total sleep for the day.
How to install a portable air conditioner
It's easier than you might think.You can use portable air conditioners as stand-alone machines or they can supplement central air conditioners with cooling to specific rooms. They're much easier to move from room to room than window air conditioners. They're also a good alternative if you rent in a building that prohibits objects from protruding out of your windows. Check out the landlord-tenant laws in your state to learn more about your options as a renter.
Nest Hub only knows about the sleep that happens right in front of it. That's a downside for travel, too. A long weekend out of town will result in a gap in your sleep stats and running averages unless your smart display tags along and you recalibrate it in your vacation digs.
Each morning you can see a sleep report. Three circles for quality, duration and schedule will align to create a purple circle if things are going well. If not, you'll see three separate circles, like a widely separated Venn diagram, indicating areas where you could improve.
I've spent nearly two weeks and comparing it to what my tells me about my snoozing. So far, results have been similar but not exactly the same. Mileage may vary based on your wearable, but my watch and the Nest Hub were never more than 15 minutes apart in their estimation of when I fell asleep and when I woke up. I definitely get more detail from my wearable about sleep quality, like how much time I spent in deep sleep, light sleep and REM sleep. Nest Hub offers more detail on my environment and how it affects my sleep. Neither is a finely detailed picture.
Review: Nest Hub Enters the Health & Wellness Space with its 2nd-Generation Model
When the Nest Hub first debuted — then called the Google Home Hub — I was unsure of its ability to truly add benefits to my home lifestyle. I owned smart speakers, tablets and smartphones, but could a non-portable device that combines these features really enhance how I interacted with my music, videos and smart …Advertiser Disclosure: At Slickdeals, we work hard to find the best deals. Some products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation, but this doesn’t change our opinions.
It's worth noting that I have a complicated sleeping environment at the moment. I didn't notice any anomalies caused by my surroundings, but I do have a dog who hops on and off the bed all night, a husband who comes home from work at 2 a.m., and I myself am nine months pregnant, thus constantly tossing and turning at night. The Nest Hub was able to dodge all those complications and still deliver data roughly similar to what my wearable measured. For a device an arm's length away, that's not too shabby.
Privacy and sleep data
What does Google gather while you sleep? Since there's no camera, Google obviously isn't recording any facial images or movements. There are microphones, light sensors and temperature sensors involved, but you can adjust what Google records and keeps. Coughing and snoring data (captured by the mic) is only stored locally on your device. You can also choose to disable coughing and snoring detection, but keep sleep tracking on. You can always review and delete your sleep data in the Google Fit app. Google hasexplaining the ins and outs of the Sleep Sensing experience.
This week's best deals: $20 off Google's Nest Audio and more
This week brought a bunch of deals on new gadgets, including Amazon's rotating Echo Show 10 and Google's Nest Hub. The former dropped to a new all-time low while the latter remains 20 percent off at various retailers. AirPods Pro are more than $50 off right now, and Amazon Prime members can snag the Fire TV Stick Lite for only $20. Here are the best tech deals from this week that you can still get today. Google Nest Audio The Nest Audio smartThe Nest Audio smart speaker is still $20 off across the web, bringing to down to $80. It already packed a lot of value into its normal $100 price tag, but it's an even better buy at this sale price.
Sleep Sensing is entirely optional. If you're not interested in using it at all, you can disable it entirely from the device settings menu. You can also disable Quick Gestures, another feature of the Hub that makes use of motion sensing, so you can tap the air in front of the display to play or pause media.
The bummer here is that, if you do like Sleep Sensing, it's only a free preview "until next year," according to Google. At that point, it will likely slide behind a paywall. Google's only official statement on the future of Sleep Sensing reads:
Enjoy a preview of Sleep Sensing. It's free until next year. As we learn and innovate on this new technology, we're excited to explore how this can become a part of the Fitbit and Fitbit Premium experiences in the future. We will keep you updated on any future plans related to Fitbit and Sleep Sensing.
It feels like Google wants to use its new Fitbit Premium asset and Sleep Sensing feature to compete with monetized products like , but we don't know much yet.
Motion Sense withisn't just onboard to power the Sleep Sensing feature. The mini radar also enables gesture control for streaming media. You can tap the air in front of the device to pause or play content. You can also use an air tap to silence an alarm, dismiss a timer or stop Google Assistant's chatter.
Gesture control is a nice to have, especially with messy hands in the kitchen or while you're working on a project across the room. It's faster and simpler than "Hey Google, pause" (which still works just fine) and it doesn't require yelling over your music to get Google Assistant's attention. I wish there were swiping options for skipping to the next song or video while streaming, or a motion to raise or lower volume. I feel like there's more potential there than Google unleashed.
Best USB-C hubs of 2021
Here are the best USB-C hubs for expanding the functionality of your laptop or desktop.CNN Underscored spent the past month putting some of the best-selling USB-C hubs through their paces in real world testing. From basic media file transfers to playing demanding games off of a portable hard drive, we watched each device function under various stress loads, while also comparing designs, connectivity and performance.
Quick Gestures worked well in my testing, but it was also a bit sensitive. At one point, I accidentally paused the YouTube video I was watching while folding laundry in front of the display. I guess the lesson here is to be careful where you aim your air guitar.
Google says the new Nest Hub has 50% more bass than the previous model. Google added a third microphone to this model for better listening, too. That's one more than the previous Nest Hub and one more than the Nest Hub Max, too. The switches and buttons that mute the microphones and control volume remain unchanged.
This isn't , so don't expect premium sound out of a device that's first and foremost a screen. However, it's plenty loud enough and offers great quality for everyday entertaining. Paired in a speaker group with other Nest speakers, it keeps up and performs well.
When it comes to smarts, all the updates are internal and future-focused. Like the Nest Hub Max and , the new Nest Hub has built-in support for , a wireless, low-energy IPv6 protocol that makes connecting third-party smart home devices simpler. Thread functionality isn't turned on yet for new Nest Hubs, but Google's continued inclusion of Thread is a nod to , an effort led by Apple, Amazon, Google and the Zigbee Alliances to create a universal smart home standard. Right now, other include products from Nanoleaf and Eve, among others.
This Nest Hub also includes the same machine-learning chip found on the latest and Nest Audio, Google's most affordable smart speaker. That ML chip processes your most common commands locally, helping Google Assistant speed up response time.
You'll still be able to from YouTube, Netflix, and Disney Plus and more on the 7-inch HD display. Music streaming from Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music and Pandora are there as well. You'll also find tabs for Photo Frame, Your Day, Home Control, Wellness, Media, Communicate, Family and Discover.
Overall, the things we loved about the Nest Hub remain the same. You'll get a great digital photo frame with ambient light sensing and adaptive color. Sunrise alarm functionality helps you wake up gently with light in the 30 minutes prior to your alarm. You can view cameras, doorbells, thermostats, lights and more from the Home Control tab. There's still no built-in camera. While that's a personal preference, I'm happy to see Google stay the course on offering a camera-free smart display.
With sensible updates, a lower price and more capability, the second-gen Nest Hub is a worthy successor to the original model. New features that might make some folks nervous are totally optional and you can review and delete your data at any time.
The second-gen Nest Hub is not overwhelmingly impressive or entirely redesigned. It's familiar, yet still improved and more affordable. That's enough for me to continue to recommend the Nest Hub as the best smart display for most smart homes.
Echo Buds 2nd Gen review: A big upgrade for Alexa fans .
After over two years of intrigue and waiting, Amazon's successor to its first foray into earbuds has arrived. The second-gen Echo Buds are now shipping, and we've spent nearly a week with them. © Jacob Krol/CNN Echo Buds now feature a slimmer and refined design, and they felt plenty comfortable in our ears. With three microphones on board, they can fully block out the world around you — or at least try to — and have some of the best voice pickup we've experienced. Those microphones also do double duty when you ask for Alexa.