Google’s smart speakers used to go by the name Google Home. But nowadays, Google Home is a much broader term that encompasses the entire Google smart home ecosystem and the devices have been renamed Google Nest.
Google Home is still the name of the app you download to your phone to operate Google-enabled smart home equipment.
But which Google Home gear should you get? There are thousands of products that work with Google Home, including favorites like Philips Hue lights and Arlo Pro cameras, so we’ll just do a roundup of the internals.
Buckle in to learn about the Google Home products that Google and the companies it owns make.
The best Google Nest devices to buy today
Google Nest Mini
The Nest Mini is perhaps the classiest of budget smart speakers. It’s less of a show-off than the latest Echo Dot, and significantly more affordable than a HomePod mini.
Power LEDs light up through the sleek fabric grille, and the Nest Mini has three mics to pick up voice commands. A single 40mm driver shoots sound upwards, so you can position it just about anywhere.
Considering 40mm is the size of standard headphone drivers, the sound quality is pretty decent as well. Where first-gen mini smart speakers like the Echo Dot were pretty useless for music, this one has a surprisingly decent amount of bass.
The biggest dedicated smart speaker that Google currently makes really isn’t that big. This is the 17.5cm tall Nest Audio which, at less than 8cm deep, is extremely easy to fit into small open spaces around your home.
Although not an ultra-high-end speaker, its 75mm woofer and 19mm tweeter combo can pump out music at high volume, without the bass depth of a Sonos. One or Amazon Echo Studio. It is more suited to polite listening than to parties. But we see that as Google leaving it to big audio brands to make big, expensive speakers compatible with Google Home.
The Nest Audio is only available in black and gray at select retailers, but Google also offers blue, pink and green versions.
Google Nest Hub
Get a Nest Hub if you want to get the most out of Google’s smart home platform while spending as little money as possible. It’s a smart speaker and display in one, and yet it only costs about as much as a Nest Audio.
The Nest Hub has a 7-inch screen for weather reports, Netflix streaming, clock view, smart home controls – everything you want to do with your smart display. Its speaker is only 1.7 inches in diameter, so don’t expect gigantic bass and room-filling sound. But for some podcasts to listen to music while you cook dinner or noodles on your phone? Sure.
Google Nest Hub Max
Google discontinued its big smart speaker, the Home Max, in 2020, making the Next Hub Max its best-equipped smart speaker. It’s also a good stereo speaker, with a pair of tweeters and a 30W 75mm “subwoofer”.
Playing music is only a small fraction of the Nest Hub Max’s purpose, mind. It has a 6.5MP camera for video chats. Its 10-inch screen can be used much like a miniature television. And thanks to its wide range of features, it’s the best partner for Nest’s wider library of smart home gadgets.
One question remains: do you want to announce out loud how “smart” your home is? It’s not a little wallflower. This is a true smart home hub, as the name suggests.
Google Chromecast with Google TV
We tend to think of Chromecast as its own beast, not part of Google Home. But it does, and sometimes that’s the best part. In the latest dongle generation, you get the full Google TV. This means you can download apps and games, and the supplied remote has a microphone for easy voice commands.
Yes, you can control your smart lights using the Chromecast remote, to dim them before you start a movie. When buying one of these, be careful whether you are ordering the 4K or HD version. Google introduced the low resolution model in September 2022.
Here’s a surprise: the smart speaker no one really talks about. The Nest Wi-Fi is a router that wants to get rid of all your internet range headaches, and it also houses a 40mm driver and microphones, just like the Nest Mini.
The idea is not that you simply replace your standard router with one of these. You add Nest WiFi ‘points’, which look like the router. These connect wirelessly to form a mesh network, designed to quench every cubic inch of your home’s Wi-Fi signal.
For some, it might not be the worst idea to forget about dedicated smart speakers altogether and just get a Nest router and a few Wi-Fi hotspots.
As we move away from the main Google Home lineup, things start to get a little fuzzier. Google’s Nest Cam is part of the Home ecosystem, but you use the Nest app on your phone to control it.
A Nest Cam pairs perfectly with one of Google’s Nest Hub smart displays, as you can watch a live feed from the Nest Cam on its screen. It’s otherwise a fairly normal smart home camera, with a night vision mode and Full HD video recording.
Without a Nest Aware subscription, you can only view recorded “events”, when the camera detects something in the frame, taken within the last 3 hours. This extends to 30 days, then 60 days, with Nest Aware and Nest Aware Plus subscriptions.
There are also three variants of Nest Cam. While their basic capabilities are similar, there’s a battery-operated model with weatherproofing for outdoor use, and at the top end, an outdoor camera with attached floodlights. It’s perfect for mounting near your front door and can even deter would-be criminals.
Welcome to the most passive partner in the Google Home universe. Nest Protect is a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. You should already have at least one of each of these sensors in your home.
The difference here is that, you guessed it, the Nest Protect alerts your phone when it detects smoke or carbon monoxide. It “speaks” as well as an alarm, and you can silence it from your mobile when you’re burning toast, rather than having to press a reset button on the alarm itself.
You can also use the Nest Protect as a nightlight, as it has an LED ring, which otherwise indicates it’s operational. Like any good CO detector, it can be used for up to a decade. But you will need to replace the batteries halfway through in the battery-powered version. There’s a wired one too.
The Nest Thermostat has been around longer than Google Home, but Google bought the smart thermostat maestro back in 2014. This series of thermostats is one of the original pillars of Google Home as a concept.
You may already know the exercise: it’s a smart thermostat that controls your heating, and a control interface that you stick to the wall. Or leave it sitting on any surface, like in the slightly cheaper Nest Smart Thermostat E.
The original design version has a partly metal housing available in the colors silver, white, black or copper.
A smart doorbell won’t stop couriers from claiming they came to your door when they absolutely didn’t. But it pairs perfectly with any of the Nest smart speakers or, even better, smart displays.
A Nest speaker can act as a bell, often called a chime, to let you know when someone is at the door. Smart displays can show a live view from the Nest doorbell’s own camera, so you can see who’s there without even saying a word.
You have two options here. The battery-operated and wired Nest doorbell. Perhaps surprisingly, the battery-powered version is cheaper, but the wired version has better camera hardware.
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