In the on-going war between Amazon and Google to win your smart home, the companies have released a number of products to keep you connected, entertained and now, keep you safe as well.
If you want all of the above in a single device, however, your best bets are the latest Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen) and the Google Nest Hub Max, both of which have a built-in camera that allow you to keep tabs on your home while you’re away through their respective apps and a number of compatible streaming services.
But when both devices are so similar in terms of specs and features, how do you know which one to buy? Well, we put together a guide to help answer that very question.
[Update: The Amazon 2019 hardware launch event was filled with new Alexa-powered gadgets – 14 of them to be precise – and we got hands-on time with several of them. Check out all the new Amazon Echo speakers, along with release dates, prices, and specs.]
The reason you’d buy an Amazon Echo Show or Google Nest Hub Max is because they have a screen attached to it that allows you to watch videos and see visual representations of your voice requests. These displays are necessary for video chatting and allow you to watch any external smart security cams you bought to protect your house.
But of the two, which has the better display?
The Google Nest Hub Max has a 10-inch HD display with a 1280x800 resolution… which is almost identical to the 10.1-inch screen with 1280x800 resolution that’s used on the Amazon Echo Show Gen. 2. When no one is around the Amazon Echo Show will turn the interface completely off, while the Google Nest Hub Max dims its display to a nearly off state - not that it really makes that much of a difference either way.
Which one is better? It’s a tie.
Both devices have a number of decent compatible streaming services - but in terms of big names, you’ll find a slightly better selection on the Nest Home Hub.
For the Amazon Echo Show you’ve got the choices of Amazon Prime Video, DailyMotion and Hulu, plus you can get daily news from NBC. It’s possible to watch videos from YouTube on the Amazon Echo Show, but you’ll have to go through the built-in web browser until Amazon and Google add native YouTube support back to the service.
If you’re bound and determined to stream content, the Nest Hub Max has a few more options. First up, the Nest Hub Max definitely supports YouTube, YouTube TV and YouTube Kids - perfect if you have little ones who are going to be using the speaker too. For the adults in the home there’s HBO Now and Starz support - though, you could get both of those on Amazon as long as you’re willing to subscribe to them through Amazon Prime Video.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Google Nest Hub Max has Chromecast Built-in, which allows you to cast content to the screen as long as you’re on the same Wi-Fi network. The downside is that not every Chromecast-compatible app works with the Nest Hub Max - which means there’s currently no way on either device to watch Netflix.
Which one is better? Unless you’re only watching Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, the Nest Hub Max has a greater diversity of content thanks to native YouTube support.
You can’t talk about visual performance without talking about how these displays sound. Again, it’s another close match but the Echo Show walks away as the better audio option.
For reference, the Nest Hub Max uses a stereo speaker system with two 18mm 10W tweeters and one 75mm 30W woofer while the Amazon Echo Show uses much larger two-inch (50mm) drivers and powerful bass radiator - though Amazon doesn’t disclose the latter’s exact measurements.
In terms of real-world listening, we found the Amazon Echo Show to be a bit bass-heavy while the Nest Home Hub had a slightly better balance, despite being a bit quieter overall.
Which one is better? Depends on what you’re after, but in terms of sheer power, the Amazon Echo Show has it.
Audio streaming services
But what can you expect in terms of streaming services? Both services are pretty comparable in terms of the big names, but again, Google probably wins thanks to its support of YouTube - and, by extension - YouTube Music.
On the Amazon Echo Show you can pick from six main music sources: Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and Vevo. Amazon Music has a pretty decent selection of music that numbers somewhere in the tens of millions and comes free to anyone with an Amazon Prime Account. If you want even more options there’s Amazon Music Unlimited, but most of the main hits can be found with the base service.
That said, if you want to pick from the most music anywhere, you’ll find it on YouTube Music - a service which offers a majority of the music found on YouTube for free with ads. If you want to stick to the official sources, though, the Nest Hub Max supports Pandora, Spotify, Deezer and Google’s own Play Music.
Which one is better? We have to hand this to the Google Nest Hub Max. It doesn’t have as many streaming options, but there wasn’t a song we couldn’t find with YouTube Music.
Smart home compatibility
When it comes to smart home… er, smarts, these two devices employ two of the most powerful smart assistants in tech: Alexa and Google Assistant.
Both are compatible with most major smart platforms and smart devices, but the biggest differences come down to Nest (a Google sub-brand) and Ring, which is now owned by Amazon. That said, both Ring and Nest have a similar lineup of products - both have smart cameras, doorbells, etc... - so you can’t go wrong with either option.
While both the Hub Max and Echo Show are compatible with most (if not all) of the same products, there is a small difference in how they learn new skills - Amazon has an open marketplace called the Skills Store where you can go to get new skills, while Google just tells you when its speakers can do something new. We like the former more than the latter.
Which one is better? In terms of hardware support, the Hub Max and the Echo Show are evenly matched, but the Echo Show’s library of skills give it a slight advantage.
Being able to turn on and off lights using your voice is great, but so is being able to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. Thankfully, both the Echo Show and Nest Hub Max have the ability to drop in while you’re away, but the Nest Hub is more of a security device.
Let’s talk through both devices.
Through the Alexa app on your phone or tablet you can, at any point, drop into any one of your Amazon Echo Show devices provided they are connected to the internet. This allows you to see what’s happening at home at a given time, but you won’t get intelligent movement notifications or 30-day recordings. If you’re really interested in those, you’ll need to get a Google Nest Hub Max… with a Nest Aware subscription.
The Nest Hub Max is Google’s crossover smart speaker / security device, and thus has a number of decent security features right out of the box. By connecting your Nest Hub Max to the Nest app, you can get a live feed of whatever room the Hub Max is in, plus video storage. Upgrading to the Nest Aware subscription gets you 30 days of stored video plus intelligent motion and voice detection, but it’s a decent security system right out of the box.
Which one is better? Considering that a Nest Hub Max doubles as a Nest security camera, we’re going to hand this one to Google.
One of the nice perks of these speakers having a display is that you can use them to talk to family and friends - either from one Amazon Echo device to another or using Google Duo on the Nest Hub Max.
To be honest, both video calling options are rather niche and require some work on your friend or family's part as well. Still, if you've got friends/family with either of these devices, it might make sense for you to get one of the same to avoid any extra hassle.
The good news? Both devices support voice over internet calling, which means you can use both to make phone calls nationally to any line inside the US, Canada and the UK for free.
Which one is better? There's room for improvement with both devices. Let's call this one a draw and move on.
As you can see, it’s a pretty even match between the Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub Max. They’re evenly matched in nearly every key area, with a few minor differences when it comes to streaming service selection, home security and their smart assistants.
That said, if home security and having an unlimited song catalog are the things that matter to you, it’s worth going for the Google Nest Hub Max.It’s nearly impossible to find a song that isn’t on YouTube Music and the built-in Nest Cam makes watching over your home a breeze.
Otherwise, if you’re all about Amazon Prime Video, a smart assistant with an ever-expanding skills library and very loud speakers, the Amazon Echo Show is your better option. It allows you to call up Amazon shows on demand and shop for new skills. It’s also crazy loud, which is great if you plan on placing it in a larger room.