Echo Show vs. Google Home Hub: Best Smart Assistant With Screen

Cam Secore
Updated 12/10/2018

After weeks of testing, I determined Google Home Hub is the best because it’s small, doesn’t feature a camera, and has a better interface with better content options. Echo Show is huge with an ugly design, but its speaker is exponentially better.

I’ll compare and contrast these two personal assistants (Echo Show vs. Google Home Hub) by evaluating four categories: sound, design, power, and software.

google home hub

Google Home Hub

9
  • Music: Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Deezer.
  • Video: YouTube, YouTube TV, Netflix, CBS All Access, CW, Viki, and HBO Now.
  • Smarts: The setup is better and can identify up to six voices, handles follow-up questions, and perform multiple commands. And the screen’s interface is nicer.
  • Things To Do: Video tutorials, recipes, TV watching, digital picture frame, quick access to smart home products.
  • Design: It has a 7” display and is half the depth of Show. It comes in four colors and blends right into your kitchen.
  • Speaker: Google’s voice is rich and clear, but the speaker is terrible for music. The speaker is an improvement over Echo Dot, but sounds similar to Google Home Mini.

Best for you if...

You want a better version of Google Home Mini and don’t plan on using it for music. An interface on a voice assistant is an improvement. Compared to Echo Show, Home Hub has superior intelligence, a minimalistic design, better video content, and everything works smoother. Music sounds terrible and there's no camera (this is good).

echo show gen 2

Amazon Echo Show

6
  • Music: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Audible.
  • Video: Hulu and Amazon Video. YouTube only works in the poorly designed web browser.
  • Smarts: Alexa doesn’t do well with multiple voices, multiple commands, or pronouns. You can customize the home screen, but the interface is a mess.
  • Things To Do: Recipes, video calls between Echos, ordering via Amazon, digital picture frame, and listening to music.
  • Design: It’s ugly, bulky and oddly-angled with a 10.1″ touchscreen a 5-megapixel camera. It’s not aesthetically pleasing.
  • Speaker: It sounds similar to Echo Plus but with more bass. It’s the best-sounding Echo device but still not close to a premium speaker.

Best for you if...

You want the best-sounding speaker in Amazon’s lineup and want to use it for music. You have to look past the bad interface, bulky design, no YouTube, and taking extra steps to complete tasks compared to Home Hub. You should consider Fire HD 10 Tablet with hands-free Alexa because it utilizes the screen better and only costs $150.


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    google home hub vs alexa

    Home Hub

    9

    Services (B+):

    • Google didn’t seem like they were building a platform for third parties as well as Alexa in its early stages. For instance, with Hue lights, you weren’t getting full control over scenes. But earlier this year they’ve opened the gates.
    • You won’t find as many as compatible products as Alexa, but most of those of Alexa skills are niche and people stop using them after they’ve been downloaded.
    • Google gets the basic smart home integrations right with big names like Philips Hue, Nest, Wemo, TP-Link, Ecobee, August, Arlo, and many others. (Check more here.)
    • For music services, Google is compatible with Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Deezer.
    • For video services, Home Hub is compatible with YouTube, YouTube TV, Netflix, CBS All Access, CW, Viki, and HBO Now. These can be played on Google Home Hub’s display or you can cast them to any of your TVs, assuming they’re using a Chromecast.
    • While the Google Home app for iPhone is a well-done app and it’s fully compatible, Google products don’t play nice with Apple’s services like Apple Music, Apple Notes or Apple Calendar.

    Interface & Smarts (A):

    • Google Home Hub can display a full-screen clock, curated artwork gallery or rotate through your preselected Google Photos albums. Using it with Google Photos is great, but it’s buried in the settings on your phone. You should be able to do this on Home Hub by asking Google to set it up. When you ask, it doesn’t know what you’re talking about.
    • I’d like more customization of the home screen because the weather and clock are your only options, but more options are coming.
    • Google shows the words as you say them in real-time. This is a much better experience than Alexa.
    • Google’s voice sounds more authentic and non-robotic when compared to Siri and Alexa. You also get the choice of a male voice too.
    • Google’s Knowledge Graph. Google has had a search engine for 20 years and answers queries better than anyone. It’s their specialty. Going forward, this will give Google a significant advantage over Amazon. For example, anything that brings up an answer box in a Google search can be answered through Google Home. If I ask, “What stadium do the Boston Red Sox play at?” Google tells me Fenway Park, but Alexa is confused. When Alexa doesn’t know an answer, it refers to Bing.
    • Google’s not perfect, but compared to Alexa, it’s much better with follow-up questions and understands substituting proper nouns with pronouns.
    • Google Home can identify up to six voices with Voice Match. Also, it pulls up information based on each person’s calendars and preferences. That’s convenient if you have family members or roommates with different music accounts. When I ask “Hey Google, play Spotify.” it plays MY music, and when a roommate does the same thing, it plays his music.
    • Google can handle multiple commands at once. For example, Google understands when you ask it to turn off the lights and play the music in the same sentence. My favorite is being able to add multiple items to a shopping list. With Google, you can say “Hey Google, add butter and milk and eggs and hot sauce to my shopping list” and each item will appear on a separate line.
    • Google’s app and smart home setup are better than Amazon’s. It’s easier to set up each room and tell it which smart products are in each room.

    Things To Do (B):

    • When not in use, it makes sense treat this as a digital picture frame and make your wallpaper rotate through preselected photos. (Unfortunately, as stated above, this isn’t a flawless setup.)
    • If you swipe down, you get a control center with all your smart devices and their status. You can even choose the light colors with Philips Hue. It’s nicely done and smoother than Echo Show.
    • You can use it as a kitchen TV. I found myself putting on whatever game was on via YouTube TV whenever I was making food. I’d say “Hey Google, put on the Celtics” and it knew which service and channel I was talking about. It was an amazing experience.
    • If you let Google know you want to cook something, it’ll pull up recipes for you to choose from. It takes all the recipes you’d find if you were searching google.com. It’s a solid experience, but Echo Show has the edge for text recipes.
    • There’s no competition when it comes to video recipes because Google can fully utilize YouTube. If you like to learn how to make something with video, Home Hub is a better option. Bouncing between recipe screens and tutorial videos with your voice is amazing and intuitive.
    • There’s no web browser or a way to input things, but these are tasks you’re better off doing on your phone anyway.
    • I like ordering things on Amazon through Alexa, which isn’t possible with Google. But you can shop with any stores on Google Express (Walmart, Jet, Target, etc).
    • If you have Nest Hello Doorbell, the calls display on Home Hub. I’m not sure how useful this would be unless your house is huge, but it’s a neat feature.

    Design (B-):

    • Google Home Hub has a 7” display (1024px x 600px). It has a sharper resolution (170ppi) and a much brighter screen than Echo Show.
    • It comes in three colors (Chalk, Charcoal, Aqua, and Sand). It has a pleasant minimalistic design.
    • I love the size because it blends right into the kitchen. It’s only a pound and about half the depth of Echo Show.
    • The Ambient EQ balances the color temperature and the brightness automatically based on your room’s surroundings. It’s similar to Apple’s True Tone technology.
    • There’s a mute switch and volume rocker on the back.
    • There’s no camera on Home Hub and this makes sense because of these screen assistants fixed angle. Leaning over so that your face fits in the screen doesn’t make sense when you can use your phone for a video call. Google made a point of letting everyone know during the keynote that they went out of there way to not include a camera. For people worried about tech companies spying on them, this is one less piece of equipment you have to worry about.

    Speaker (F):

    • The sound quality is terrible, but it’s not meant to be used for music. The poor speaker quality is a tradeoff Google made to get the price down and to make it a better size for the kitchen.
    • It sounds similar to Google Home Mini and it’s sharper than something like Echo Dot.
    • The smart assistant’s voice is clear and rich, but this is not something you should listen to music on for long periods or at all. It slightly better than a phone speaker.
    • There’s no bass at all and the highs sound empty.
    • Home Hub doesn’t have a 3.5mm out port, but Google lets you play audio through any Bluetooth speaker or “Cast-enabled” speaker. You can also buy a Chromecast Audio for $35 to make any speaker with a line-in port “Cast-enabled.”

    Echo Show

    6

    Services (B):

    • Alexa is way more compatible than Google. There’s an Alexa app store where Alexa can learn over 15,000 new skills. Developers build on the platform and create skills using the Alexa APIs.
    • Echo Show is compatible with any smart home on the market. To name a few, it’s compatible with Philips Hue, LIFX, Ring, Nest, Wemo, TP-Link, Ecobee, August, Arlo. You’ll be covered.
    • For audio services, Alexa is compatible with Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Audible.
    • For video services, Echo Show is compatible with Hulu and Amazon Video. These can be played on Echo Show’s display or you can send them to any of your TV that uses Fire TV.
    • Alexa works with lots of different calendars and list providers. (While it can’t write events in Apple’s calendar, it can at least read what you have).

    Interface & Smarts (C-):

    • On the home screen, you can pick what you want to be displayed: sports scores, notifications, reminders, stocks, trending topics, upcoming events, And for the background wallpaper, you can have it rotate between pictures in one of your Amazon Photos albums, like a digital picture frame. Unfortunately, you can’t turn off the Alexa tips at the bottom.
    • The screen is usually only useful when listening to music because you can see the album art and song name and skip songs and to tap enter buttons. But it’s laggy and doesn’t function anything like a tablet. The keyboard takes forever to show up and then it blocks the entire screen so you can’t see what you’re entering. This is a voice-first device, even when an interface is more user friendly.
    • It can function as a smart home hub with a Zigbee radio. Meaning if you plan on getting smart home devices, like Philips Hue lights, you won’t need the Hue bridge, you can use Echo Show as your bridge.
    • Alexa’s voice hearing is the best in the business and better than Home hub. It has eight microphones.
    • Alexa doesn’t understand pronouns. For instance, when I ask “Alexa, how old is Tom Brady?” it gives his correct age, but if I come back with, “Alexa, what team does he play for?” it has no memory of the previously-named subject, Tom Brady.
    • Alexa can’t do multiple commands at once. Things building a shopping list is hard. With Alexa, you have to say “Alexa, add butter to my shopping list.” and then repeat the process for each item.
    • Alexa can learn different voices, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as Google. On Alexa, multi-voice setup takes a long time and doesn’t work well. With Google’s setup, everyone uses their own Google account and downloads the Home app, and it takes a couple of minutes. With Amazon, the user has to be in “Your Household” on Amazon.com (you’re only allowed two adults in the household). This isn’t ideal if you have multiple roommates.
    • You can set up “Routines,” and this is Alexa’s way of compensating for not understanding multiple commands at once. You create a word or phrase like, “Alexa, Cam’s my favorite online reviewer” and have specific lights turn on, along with other smart tasks, simultaneously.

    Things To Do (B+)

    • You can use this as a kitchen TV, but there isn’t much content. You can use Hulu or Amazon Video, but Alexa usually can’t figure out which episodes to play from your voice.
    • You can access your smart devices and routines by swiping from the top, but the interface looks bad, is slow and often takes more taps to do something than it should.
    • You can use Firefox or Amazon Silk to browse the internet, but the web browsing experience is clunky and not recommended because of the slowness and terrible keyboard.
    • There’s no YouTube app, but you can say “Alexa, open YouTube” and it’ll open YouTube in your preferred web browser. It’s a workaround, but in no way is it smooth. If YouTube is important to you, you want Google Home Hub.
    • Amazon is marketing it as a device for the kitchen, which sounds great because I like following video recipes (from Facebook or YouTube) rather than reading them. The problem is that it’s hard to watch the videos you want because you can only bring up videos with your voice, and there isn’t much content available.
    • To make things worse, Google and Amazon have beef, and YouTube is no longer allowed on Echo Show. For cooking videos, you’re stuck with Amazon’s content or AllRecipes, which is hard to navigate.
    • If you’re just looking for text recipes, Echo Show provides a better experience because the screen is bigger and the recipes are optimized perfectly step by step. Echo Show uses a combination of Kitchen Stories, Side Chef. Allrecipes for recipes.
    • Alexa has a feature called “Drop In” which is useful if you have multiple Alexa devices. You can use them as an intercom system and have conversations from different parts of the house. (You can “Drop In” on other people’s Alexa devices too, but I don’t see the point in that).
    • You can receive video calls from Echo Show or Spot users or from the Alexa phone app, but as I’ve mentioned, the fixed camera angle makes it a poor experience. And you’re limited by who you can talk to because not many people use the Alexa app for video calling or have Echo Show.
    • Video calling via Skype is coming soon and an improved solution.
    • Alexa is perfectly integrated with Amazon.com. Three of my favorites things:
      • “Alexa, reorder [any previous Amazon order].” I use this to reorder coffee pods for my Keurig.
      • “Alexa, where’s my stuff?” Alexa will tell you where the latest packages you’ve ordered from Amazon are.
      • Alexa can automatically give you shipping notifications on your Amazon packages without you asking.
      • Say “Alexa, scan,” and hold up an item that you’re running out of and scan it with the camera. Alexa will find the product and give you a button to tap to order.
    • If you have Ring Video doorbell, it can display the video call when the doorbell is rung.

    Design (D+):

    • The first generation Echo Show had a 7″ touchscreen, while the second generation kept the same size body but has a 10.1″ screen. It’s sharper (1280px x 800px) than the previous generation, with a pixel density 125 PPI.
    • It’s ugly, bulky and oddly-angled. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. They couldn’t even make the top and bottom bezels symmetrical.
    • There’s nasty screen glare during the day, it’s a fingerprint magnet, and the screen doesn’t get as bright as I’d like.
    • On top there are volume and mic disable buttons.
    • The camera is 5-megapixels and set at a fixed angle. This means you have to adjust your face position when in a video call rather than repositioning the device. If you have it set on the counter, for example, you either have to stand an unnatural distance away from the device or bend down to get your face in the frame. Also, there’s no button to turn off the camera.

    Speaker (C+):

    • Echo devices notoriously have terrible sound quality, so don’t compare this to a premium speaker like Bose, Sonos, HomePod or Sony, but relative to the original Echo, or Google Home Mini or Echo Dot, the sound is amazing and great for music.
    • It’s the best-sounding Alexa speaker. It sounds similar to Echo and Echo Plus, but the bass is more defined.
    • When comparing this to a premium speaker, the bass is overkill for me, and drowns out the other parts of the song. The speakers are located on the back and not forward facing, so this hurts the sound quality.
    • I prefer any Sonos One and HomePod by a lot.
    • Even affordable Bluetooth speakers, like JBL Flip 4, produce a more well-balanced sound.
     

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