This year I received my best gift ever. No it isn't a 5-carat emerald or a pricey Macallan Lalique 62 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. It's something even better.
It is Google's video Home Hub (sorry Alexa--no hurt feelings, I hope).
Somehow I missed hearing about the Google Video Home Hub when it came out earlier this year. But now that I have it sitting unobtrusively on my kitchen counter, it's hard to imagine life without it.
It is oh, so much better the cylindrical smart speaker--the hot gift from the past couple of years, that is now so yesterday.
The video screen makes all the difference. It's more user friendly giving users both voice controls and touchscreens.
How do I love it. Let me count the ways.
Maybe the coolest feature, especially for those who like to cook like me, is the recipes. Just a simple, Hey Google, brings up the recipe you request with a host of choices. Once you have selected your recipe either by voice or touch, you can follow instructions, hands free, step by step. The Hub waits patiently as long as you need until you say, "Hey Google, next step," --allowing the time you need to work your way through the recipe. It even lets you know when you are on your final step. At that point, you can tell Google to turn on the timer for the amount of time the recipe needs to cook. If you need more help, like how to cut a pineapple or DIY sushi, there's youtube tutorials for those and more.
Lights, temperature and more
You can simplify your smart home by linking devices such as smart lights, your nest thermostat, security cameras and more to control from a single dashboard.
With the video screen, just ask Google to play a fireworks display and you can keep warm inside your house and watch non-stop fireworks displays. If the Hub's 7-inch video screen doesn't do it for you, you can stream the fireworks to any screen in your house via Chromecast. If you're having a party, you can play non-stop fireworks in the background --be it New Year's Eve, 4th of July or any special occasion. This, of course, works with any other videos you want to play.
These fun features are only the beginning. Just like on the smart speakers, you can play your favorite music by just asking--but you can also check the video screen for more information about what's playing. You can ask any question and get both a voice and visual answer. With Voice Match, you can personalize events and routines. You can also view your photos, make voice calls and on some models Facetime.
The best part, even if you didn't find the Google Home Hub in your holiday stocking, it's affordable. You can probably find one for as low at $99.
Subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email
If you would like to keep in touch with what's happening in Chicago, like us on Facebook or subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email. To subscribe, type your email address in the box below and click the "create subscription" button. Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
Filed under: Tech review