Echo Show vs. Google Home Hub: Best Smart Assistant With Screen
After weeks of testing, I determined Google Home Hub is the best personal assistant because it’s small, doesn’t have a camera, and has a better interface and content options. Amazon Echo Show is huge and ugly, but its speaker is exponentially better.
I’ll compare and contrast these two personal assistants (Amazon Echo Show vs. Google Home Hub) by evaluating four categories: sound, design, power, and software.
Google Home Hub
- 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, handle follow-up questions, and perform multiple commands. The screen interface is nicer as well.
- Things To Do: Video tutorials, recipes, TV, 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 in well.
- 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 to use it for music. An interface with your voice assistant is an improvement. Home Hub has superior intelligence, a minimalistic design, better video content, and smoother operation. There’s also no camera (which is a good thing). Keep in mind it isn’t good for music.
Amazon Echo Show
- 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 to use the best-sounding speaker in Amazon’s lineup. You’ll have to look past the bad interface, bulky design, lack of YouTube, and the extra steps it takes to complete tasks. If your heart's set on an Alexa device, I recommend Fire HD 10 Tablet with hands-free Alexa instead because it utilizes the screen better and costs less.
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- It didn’t seem like Google was building a platform for third parties as good as Alexa in its early stages. For instance, with Hue lights, you didn’t get full control over scenes. But earlier this year they’ve stepped up their game.
- It doesn’t have as many compatible products as Alexa, but most of Alexa’s skills are niche and people don’t use them more than once.
- 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. You can play these on Google Home Hub’s display or cast them to any of your TVs, assuming they’re using a Chromecast.
- While the Google Home app for iPhone is well-done and 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 or curated artwork gallery or rotate through your preselected Google Photos albums. Using it with Google Photos is great, but the setup is buried in the phone settings. You should be able to do this on Home Hub by asking Google to set it up but it doesn’t work that way.
- 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, a much smoother experience than Alexa.
- Google’s voice sounds more authentic and natural compared to Siri and Alexa. You have the choice of a male voice too.
- Google’s Knowledge Graph. Google has had its signature search engine for over 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, it understands when you ask it to turn off the lights and play the music simultaneously. My favorite thing 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 to treat this as a digital picture frame and make your wallpaper rotate through preselected photos. (Unfortunately, as stated above, it doesn’t always work smoothly)/
- If you swipe down, a control center pops up with all of your smart devices and their statuses. You can even choose the light colors with Philips Hue. It’s nice and smoother than Echo Show.
- You can use it as a kitchen TV. I watched sports 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 tell Google you want to cook something, it’ll pull up recipes for you. It takes all of the recipes you’d find if you were searching Google.com. It’s convenient, 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 seamless and intuitive.
- There’s no web browser or a way to input things, but you’re better off doing that 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.
- Google Home Hub has a 7” display (1024px x 600px) with a sharper resolution (170ppi) and a much brighter screen than Echo Show.
- It comes in four colors (Chalk, Charcoal, Aqua, and Sand) and has a pleasant minimalistic design.
- I love the size because it blends right into the kitchen. It only weighs a pound and about half the depth of Echo Show.
- The Ambient EQ balances the color temperature and the brightness automatically based on the 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, which makes sense because of the screen assistant’s 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, you’re safe with this product.
- The sound quality is terrible, but it’s not designed for music. The poor speaker quality is a tradeoff Google made to keep the price and size down.
- It sounds similar to Google Home Mini, and it’s sharper than products like Echo Dot.
- The smart assistant’s voice is clear and rich. Although you shouldn’t use it for music generally, it is 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.
- 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 product, including Philips Hue, LIFX, Ring, Nest, Wemo, TP-Link, Ecobee, August, and Arlo to name a few.
- Regarding audio, 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 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, or 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 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.
- 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 the Echo Show as your bridge.
- Alexa’s voice listening is fantastic 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 handle multiple commands at once. Tasks like making a shopping list are 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,” which 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 available. 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 multiple taps to complete a task.
- You can use Firefox or Amazon Silk to browse the internet, but the web browsing experience is clunky and slow with an awful 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, and it isn’t 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 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 is a better option because the screen is bigger and the recipes are optimized perfectly step by step. Echo Show uses a combination of Kitchen Stories, Side Chef, and 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 know why you’d want to).
- 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 video calling a challenge. Also, 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.
- 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 125 PPI pixel density.
- 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.
- Echo devices notoriously have terrible sound quality, so don’t compare this to premium speakers like Bose, Sonos, HomePod or Sony. But relative to the original Echo, 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 Plus, but the bass is more defined.
- The speakers are located on the back and not forward-facing, which affects sound quality.
- When comparing this to a premium speaker, the bass is overkill for me and drowns out the other parts of the song.
- I prefer any Sonos One and HomePod by a lot.
- Even affordable Bluetooth speakers, like JBL Flip 4, produce a more well-balanced sound.