Google is expanding its line of smart home gadgets with its first smart display. In some ways Google Home Hub is basically a Google Home smart speaker with a display. But that screen brings support for new features.

Interestingly there’s one key feature Google Home Hub does not have: video calls. It has a two microphones and responds to voice input with audio and visual information. But there’s no camera.

Google Home Hub is up for pre-order today for $149 and it will be available in the US, UK, and Australia on October 22nd.

The move makes sense — as technology companies rush to put smart, always-connected, always-listening gadgets in your home, many potential customers have been concerned about the privacy implications.

JBL, Lenovo, and others have reacted by putting camera covers on their smart displays. Google went a step further and simply didn’t include a camera at all.

That makes the Google Home Hub sort of the anti-Facebook Portal. The key selling point of Facebook’s new smart speaker is that you can use it for video calls using Facebook Messenger.

Google is also providing parental controls for the Google Home Hub, allowing parents to restrict access to some content. And you can set the device so that it doesn’t work at all during certain hours of the day.

While there’s no camera, the Home Hub isn’t just a Smart Speaker that can also play videos. Ask for a weather forecast and you can see it and hear it at the same time. The same goes for recipes or directions.

There’s also a new Home View feature that gives you an overview of smart home gadgets, allowing you to get information about your lights, temperature, security system, and other gadgets at once. If someone rings your smart doorbell, you can also see them on the device’s display.

When you’re not using the Home Hub actively, it can also work as a digital picture frame. And it can display content from Google Photos including the new Google Photos Live Albums feature that automatically adds your best images (not blurry or overexposed pictures) to appropriate albums so that there’s always new content.

Google also added an Ambient EQ feature that can automatically adjust brightness and color depending on the lighting conditions in a room.

Customers who buy a Google Home Hub will get a free 6-month subscription to YouTube Premium (which includes YouTube Music Premium).

The Google Home Hub has a 7 inch touchscreen display, dual microphones, a light sensor, a large speaker, and support for WiFi and Bluetooth 5. It measures 7″ x 4.7″ x 2.7″ and the Home Hub comes in a choice of colors including “sand,” “chalk,” “aqua,” and “charcoal.”


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7 replies on “Google Home Hub is a smart display without a camera”

  1. Another “smart” display designed with a fixed-angle stand. Apparently the designers have never seen glare on these glossy screens or figured out how to make an adjustable-angle stand.

    Here’s an idea for the camera privacy issue – how about allowing a USB webcam to be plugged in? Don’t connect one if you don’t want to, connect one if you want to and disconnect it for privacy. Simple solutions are too often overlooked these days.

  2. Could not find any information about the LCD panel type or resolution. Seems like an important spec to me, maybe not to the people who will actually buy them.

  3. Now if they would only add a switch that would physically disconnect the microphones when you were not using them.

    1. I believe that it does have a microphone on/off switch on the back. Some people may not trust that the microphone switch actually turns off the microphones. Those people probably won’t be buying the Home Hub either way.

    2. To be honest if you are that concerned with privacy i don’t see why someone would even buy these devices.

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