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What the Google Home Hub lacks in size, it makes up for in substance

Google's little smart display comes in handy when you need it and looks great when you don't.

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Andrew Gebhart
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1 of 16 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Bigger than it looks

Thanks to the built-in Google Assistant, the Google Home Hub responds to the same voice commands as the original Google Home. It also uses its touchscreen to show you extra info when you ask about the weather, search for a place to eat or control your smart home.

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2 of 16 Chris Monroe/CNET

More for less

The Google Home Hub is the latest entry in a new category of tech called smart displays, and while it's smaller than the rest, the $150 Google Home Hub has most of the same features and a few unique tricks for less than the competition.

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3 of 16 Chris Monroe/CNET

Get ready for your day

The main screen of the Home Hub shows you the weather in your area and a snapshot of your Google Calendar. You can turn off personal information from showing up on the screen if you don't want your housemates to see it. 

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Get cooking

You can search for recipes with the Home Hub. Find one you like and it'll walk you through the steps one-by-one.

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Or not

If you don't feel like making something, you can also use the Home Hub to search for and scroll through local restaurants.

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Screen time

You can watch YouTube videos on the Home Hub or live TV via YouTube TV.

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Rock on

You can also play music through Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora and more.

You can group the Home Hub with other Google Assistant smart speakers for synced playback of your favorite song throughout your home.

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A smarter smart home

Swipe right on the touchscreen to go back a page. Swipe up for quick settings. If you swipe down, you'll see a smart home control center with shortcuts for common tasks.

You can even see all of your connected gadgets organized by room.

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Ambient EQ

Unlike the competition, the Google Home Hub doesn't have a camera. Instead, the dot above the screen is a light sensor that allows the screen to adapt both the brightness and the warmth of its picture to match the room.

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Picture perfect

The Ambient EQ feature works well, as pictures avoid glowing and look more like printed versions in an ordinary frame.

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Ambient serenity

You can customize your ambient mode to show Google's stock artwork, or it will scroll through one of your own albums. Use the new Live Albums feature and Google Assistant will help you sort through your pics and find the ones you want of your family and friends.

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Color choices

Behind the Hub's screen is a simple stand covered in fabric. You can buy the Home Hub in four colors: sand, aqua, chalk and charcoal.

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Mute

You can mute the Home Hub's microphone with a switch on the back.

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Volume

The Home Hub also has a physical toggle for volume controls.

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The competition

The Home Hub isn't the first smart display. In fact, you can currently buy two other smart displays with Google Assistant built-in. The $250 Lenovo Smart Display is the best option if you want a big screen and premium style. Go with the $250 JBL Link View for awesome sound quality. The $150 Google Home Hub offers the best value of the bunch.

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Google vs. Amazon

The Home Hub is Google's answer to the Amazon Echo Show. While the second generation $230 Echo Show is much improved over the original, I prefer Google Assistant's touchscreen features to those of Amazon's assistant Alexa.

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