We Tested the Google Nest Hub Max, and Here’s Why It’s a Must-Have in Your Kitchen

The upgraded version of the Google Nest Hub comes with a bigger screen, better sound quality, and a built-in camera, which will make following recipes even easier this holiday season.

Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist
Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist
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The other day I was watching Finch, Tom Hanks' latest movie, on Apple TV+ (it’s very sad, in case you’re wondering). Besides making me sob, it had me wishing I had a robot that could bring me food whenever I wanted. And though we’re not there yet, there are certainly some smart home devices out there today that can help tremendously with other tedious tasks. Tech brands are finding fresh ways to integrate even more convenient features into their smart products (e.g., the Facebook Portal, Amazon Echo Show, Eve Door & Window Sensor, etc) that allow us to communicate with and control just about anything. Personally, I’ve had an Echo Show from Amazon for a couple years, and use it frequently. But I recently found myself compelled to try Google’s new Nest Hub Max, as I’d heard it could help me whip up recipes in the kitchen and control all my smart home devices by simply using my voice.

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one a few months ago, and it may or may not have prompted me to say goodbye to my Echo Show. If you’re curious why, keep reading to find out more about what the Google Nest Hub Max does, and how it’s helped me better enjoy my time in the kitchen.

The Snapshot

What it is: Google’s Nest Hub Max is a smart home device designed to help navigate and manage your tasks throughout the day, whether that’s cooking, making lists, or setting reminders.

What it costs: $229

Why it’s great: This is a bigger version of the brand’s Nest Hub, with more powerful speakers and a built-in Nest camera. It’s like having a personal assistant on call at all times. Overall, the user experience is pretty good, and it’s easy to smoothly interact with the device via both the digital voice assistant and the screen’s user interface. Also, I love how it personalizes its display based on the person who’s using it by employing face recognition tech, which you can opt in or out of at any time.

What would make it even better: I would love for it to be compatible with a wider selection of streaming apps so I don’t have to depend on my phone or the voice assistant to search for a specific video. Also, although you can turn off the camera, there’s no actual physical privacy shutter.

About the Product

Google’s Nest Hub Max is the upgraded version of Nest Hub, a smart home device like Google Home but equipped with a 10-inch HD screen (similar to an iPad) and a built-in camera, which opens up a lot more functionality. Like its counterpart, it was designed to help you streamline your daily tasks by providing you with your own in-home, voice-activated digital assistant. You can use it to play music from apps like Spotify and Pandora and it will display any information you may need on-demand on its screen, including videos from streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. With its new built-in camera, it can also be used to make or receive video calls or as a security camera.

Quality Check

Like its previous iteration, the Google Assistant helps you navigate through all the device’s features smoothly. It activates when you say “hey Google” and lets you control most every function using just your voice. The upgraded 10-inch screen definitely makes everything better-looking courtesy of its high def display with 1280 x 800 resolution (this proves incredibly helpful when trying to follow a particularly detailed recipe). Another great feature? Its stereo speakers are far better than the ones found in the previous Nest Hub and my Amazon Echo Show.

The built-in camera also allows for a suite of new capabilities, including hand gesture controls (which enables you to pause or resume what’s playing), a security camera with a 127-degree field of view, and video calling. It’s also equipped with face recognition tech or “Face Match,” as Google calls it, that lets the Hub Max “see” who’s in front of the display and personalize information accordingly, like reminders they’ve set, to-do lists, and upcoming calendar events.

How to Use It

To set up your Hub Max, you’ll need to download the Google Home app on your phone, sign in to your Google account, and connect to your home’s Wi-Fi. While you follow the steps, it will ask you if you want to enable Face Match. If you opt to enable it, you’ll need to take some photos of your face on the Google Home app to send to the Hub Max (you can include up to six people/faces from your household). According to Google, these photos will stay only on your device and won’t be sent to the company or stored in the cloud. After that, you can start connecting to your streaming services and other accessories in your home that are compatible with Google Home. For example, I’ve connected my smart bulbs in all my lamps so I can tell Google assistant to turn them on and off whenever I need to. Not gonna lie, it makes me feel like I’m Samantha from Bewitched.

One of my favorite features has to be the recipe suggestions and step-by-step directions. When I’m craving a specific ingredient or food, I ask Google Assistant to show me recipes that contain it and it pulls up lots of options from sites like Food Network, Delish, Food52, and more. When I settle on a recipe I want to use, I tell Google Assistant to start cooking and it immediately starts reading the first step, but doesn’t move forward until I say “hey Google, next step.” If you forget about a measurement or another detail, you can always ask Google without missing the step you’re currently on. I’ve always cooked recipes following the steps from my phone which can be so clumsy and complicated since I have to move my phone around and clean my hands before grabbing it again to read the next direction. You can also use this feature to make your grocery list by asking Google what ingredients are in a recipe you want to cook, which I also find so efficient.

Other than that, I mostly use it to check the weather every morning, listen to music and podcasts, and to check on my dog with the camera when I step out of my apartment (that has been incredibly helpful to gauge her progress dealing with separation anxiety). All these features can also be managed from your phone using the Google Home app, which comes in handy when you’re away from home and want to turn on some lights before arriving.

The Results

After using this product for months, I can say I really enjoy having it in my home. I think it’s so helpful in small ways that make such a big difference throughout the day. Do I worry about my privacy and how data is being stored? I was at the beginning, but after I learned how to clear my information, I felt more confident about it. However, I do wish that the camera had a physical privacy shutter just for peace of mind. I would also want full control of the apps directly from the screen. As of now, you can only control them with your phone and use the voice assistant to play a specific video, which can be tricky since you need the exact name of the content you’re looking for.

Our Verdict

I think that $229 is a decent price to pay for such a great product. The quality of the screen and user experience stands out from any other smart device I’ve seen or used before. I personally love to have it in the kitchen and/or the living room area. In the kitchen, it’s handy not only when following a recipe but also great for playing podcasts or watching something while cooking or cleaning the dishes. In the living room, which is where I work most often, I use it to listen to music, ask Google questions, check the weather, and for the security camera when I’m out. If your goal is to make your home a lot smarter, I think this is the right product to start with.

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