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Google Home Hub vs Amazon Echo Show 2: Which smart screen is best?

Alan Martin
12 Nov 2018
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It’s a battle of the smart screen as the two tech giants go head-to-head

AI is on the rise, and personal digital assistants are growing in popularity all the time. These smart speakers, equipped with Google’s Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa AI, can assist us with countless tasks in our day-to-day lives – from tracking the weather to dispensing travel information and playing music or video.

If you want to take it all a step further, and introduce a bit of visual fun to your futuristic home, the AI giants have recently released what they are calling “smart screens.” These have a virtual assistant in the mix, but also have a display to show video clips, web pages or photos at your request.

We’ve taken a thorough look at the latest offerings from both Google and Amazon, scrutinising every aspect of the pair to answer the simplest of questions: which is better?

Read on to find out which we liked more: the Google Home Hub or the Amazon Echo Show 2.

Google Home Hub vs Amazon Echo Show 2: Price

The new Echo Show 2 costs £220, which is a pleasant surprise given that this makes it the same price as the first iteration of Amazon’s smart screen. Meanwhile, the Google Home Hub is quite a bit cheaper, coming in at £140.

The price disparity is no surprise given that Echo Show 2 features a camera and larger screen, but the £80 saving makes the Home Hub the best-priced smart screen available to buy today. Both of the devices have already been released and are available for purchase right now.

Google Home Hub vs Amazon Echo Show 2: Design and display

At first glance, the Google Home Hub resembles a tablet stuck onto a large stone. However, the ‘stone’ section is actually a fabric-covered speaker/stand combo, and the tablet isn’t removable.

It’s not the most beautiful device we’ve laid our eyes on, but the Home Hub isn’t ugly by any means. Viewed from the front, it resembles a digital photo frame, while the small size means it can be placed almost anywhere – from kitchen worktops to bedside tables.

While the Home Hub’s resolution isn’t listed on Google’s website, the company has told us that the 7in touchscreen display comes in at 1,024 x 600 pixels. That’s a little worse than the Echo Show 2, with Amazon’s 10in offering featuring a resolution of 1,280 x 800.

As for the Echo Show 2 itself, it’s undergone a slight evolution, with the speaker now relocated to the rear of the device. Because of this, it has a bigger footprint than the original, and it’s a little shorter too. The misshapen pyramid look remains, however, while a large bezel at the top of the screen housing a 5-megapixel front-facing camera (the Home Hub doesn’t have one) and the microphone array.

Google Home Hub vs Amazon Echo Show 2: Sound quality

The Home Hub’s sound quality won’t blow you away, though that’s to be expected from a device with such a small footprint and such a low price point. Given these drawbacks, the sound is certainly decent – if somewhat lacking in bass.

In short, the Home Hub works very well as a kitchen or bedside radio, but if you’re looking for a main speaker to play music through then it isn’t the best choice.

Where the Home Hub could use a bass boost, the Echo Show 2 suffers from the opposite problem – the bass is simply overpowering, though this can be remedied by altering the speaker’s EQ settings. It doesn’t sound amazing when you up the volume, either, as distortion seeps in.

Despite this, it’s still the best-sounding standalone Echo speaker, and has the beating of the Home Hub. If your main concern is playing music, it’s easily the better of this two.

Google Home Hub vs Amazon Echo Show 2: Features

Both devices have seen upgrades from their previous iterations, though we think the Home Hub just edges out the Echo Show 2 in this category.

One of the more interesting new features on the Home Hub is the Ambient EQ. This consists of a front-facing light sensor which alters screen brightness and white point depending on the ambient light in the room. It’s a handy addition, toning down the blue light at night so the screen doesn’t affect your ability to get to sleep; it’s also not something that the Echo Show 2 offers.

Both devices include a feature that let you control other smart devices around your home. Whether you have smart lights, cameras or thermostats, it’s possible to take charge of them all via voice command. It’s pretty useful, as it removes the need to remember the names of each device or command them individually.

Disappointingly, the Home Hub doesn’t feature a web browser. The Echo Show 2, on the other hand, has two to choose from – Firefox and Amazon Silk.

Moving on to the available apps, and if you’re a Netflix fan you’ll be disappointed – neither device has the streaming service. That’s understandable on the Echo Show 2, given that Amazon has its own Prime Video service. As it has a built-in browser, you can watch Netflix on the Show, but it won’t respond to voice commands.

The Echo Show 2 has Spotify too, though YouTube and BBC iPlayer are only available to watch via the browser. The Home Hub has Play Music, Spotify and the YouTube app, but for now you can only watch television via YouTube, with iPlayer not available yet.

Of course, the main selling points of these two devices are their virtual assistants. Here, Google takes the cake with Google Assistant, which answers queries quickly and accurately – from trivia and music/podcast requests to news and weather updates. They’re both extremely close though, with Amazon’s Alexa falling behind slightly on travel and voice recognition.

Lastly, Alexa lets you control playback on Amazon TV devices such as Fire TV Stick, while Google Assistant does the same for Chromecast.

READ NEXT: Google Home Mini review 

Google Home Hub vs Amazon Echo Show 2: Verdict

Across the board, the two smart speakers run each other very close. The Echo Show 2 has the Home Hub beat on display and sound quality, while we think Google’s virtual assistant and feature list has the beating of Amazon’s offering.

Once you factor in the contrasting prices of the duo, though, the Google Home Hub is the clear victor. Of course, it depends what features you value the most, but with an £80 saving for a device that’s largely on an even footing with the Echo Show 2, the Home Hub is our selection here.

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