Echo Show 5 vs. Google Nest Hub: Battle of Screen Assistants
After weeks of testing, I determined Google Nest Hub is the best personal assistant because it has a more intuitive interface and better content options. Echo Show 5 is an upgrade over Echo Dot (3rd Gen), but the overall experience is not on Nest Hub’s level.
I’ll compare and contrast these two personal assistants (Echo Show 5 vs. Google Nest Hub) by evaluating six categories: compatible services, smarts/interface, things to do, exterior design, sound quality, and larger screen options.
Google Nest 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 comes in four colors. It's the ideal size.
- Speaker: Google’s voice is rich and clear, but the speaker is terrible for music.
Best for you if...
You want a great smart home controller or you own Nest products. Nest Hub has superior intelligence, more video content, a smarter picture frame and smoother operation. The interface is a substantial improvement from Google Home Mini.
Echo Show 5
- 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 with Skype, ordering via Amazon, digital picture frame, and listening to music.
- Design: It has a 5.5” display and comes in two colors. Not aesthetically pleasing.
- Speaker: You shouldn't use it for music, but it sounds better than Nest Hub.
Best for you if...
You want a camera for video calling or need Apple Music and Apple Calendar integrations. Echo Show 5 is a solid upgrade from Echo Dot, but you’ll have to look past the bad interface, lack of YouTube, and extra steps it takes to complete tasks compared to Nest.
Echo Show (2nd Gen) is $230. It's the best sounding native Alexa speaker ever produced and has a 10" display.
- 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.)
- Google is sunsetting the “Work With Nest” program and once implemented, Google Assistant will be the only way to control Nest products with a smart assistant.
- For music services, Google is compatible with Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Deezer.
- For video services, Nest Hub is compatible with YouTube, YouTube TV, Netflix, CBS All Access, CW, Viki, and HBO Now. You can play these on Google Nest Hub’s display or cast them to any of your TVs, assuming your TVs have 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 Nest Hub can display a full-screen clock or curated artwork gallery or rotate through your preselected Google Photos albums.
- I’d like more customization of the home screen because the weather and clock are your only options.
- Google shows the words as you speak in real-time, giving a 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):
- Six tasks that Nest Hub is far superior to Echo Show 5:
- Digital picture frame. When not in use, you should use it as a digital picture frame and have your wallpaper rotate through preselected photos. It took a while, but Google finally made the digital picture frame a selling point. They made the setup more user-friendly too. The Google Photos integration is excellent because it updates in real-time, and you can invite family members to display their photos too. It’s a great gift for grandparents who want to see new photos of their grandkids automatically appear as they happen.
- Smart home control. 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. Anything smart home-related happens quicker and with few taps compared to Echo Show.
- Video 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, Nest Hub is a better option. Bouncing between recipe screens and tutorial videos with your voice is seamless and intuitive.
- 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.
- Directions. When you ask for directions, the screen shows a map on the right side with written directions on the left. Also, the directions are pushed to your phone via the Google Maps app.
- Getting answers. As stated above, Google owns a search engine and YouTube, and they’ve been perfecting search for decades.
- 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.
- 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).
- You can make audio calls with Google Duo, but it’ll be an audio-only call because there isn’t a camera.
- If you have Nest Hello Doorbell, the calls display on Nest Hub. I’m not sure how useful this would be unless your house is huge, but it’s a neat feature.
- Google Nest Hub has a 7” display (1024px x 600px) with a sharp resolution (170ppi) and a brighter screen than Echo Show 5.
- It comes in four colors (Chalk, Charcoal, Aqua, and Sand) and has a pleasant minimalistic design.
- While a fixed angled screen won’t be perfect, Nest has a larger tilt of the screen. It makes more sense when you’re standing and with it on the kitchen counter.
- It’s the ideal size because it blends right into the kitchen, but it’s large enough to see what you need.
- 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 Nest 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.
Sound Quality (F):
- 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.
- The smart assistant’s voice is clear and rich. Although you shouldn’t use it for music because it’s only slightly better than a phone speaker.
- There’s no bass at all, and the highs sound empty.
- Nest Hub doesn’t have a 3.5mm out port, but Google lets you play audio through any Bluetooth speaker or “Cast-enabled” speaker.
Larger Option (N/A):
- Google Nest Hub Max has a 10″ display and includes a camera and a better sounding speaker. I’ll write about it when it’s released, but here are three intuiting features until then:
- It works as an additional Nest Cam. You can view Nest Hub Max’s camera via the Google Home App to see your house while you’re away. You can get 24/7 continuous recording if you have a Nest Aware subscription.
- Face Match recognizes your face and shows YOUR notifications and settings.
- Quick Gestures let you use hand gestures to pause and resume media. For example, when you hold your hand up while facing the camera, it’ll stop your timer without saying anything.
- 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, Wemo, TP-Link, Ecobee, August, and Arlo to name a few. Unfortunately, Nest products are no longer compatible.
- 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.
- Echo Show (2nd Gen) is slower than Nest Hub, but Echo Show 5 takes it to another level. There’s a full second delay (or more) when switching between menus.
- 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.
- The lyrics show on the screen in real-time when you’re playing Amazon Music songs.
Things To Do (B+)
- Four tasks that Echo Show 5 is far superior to Nest Hub:
- Communication between devices. 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).
- Video calls. You can receive video calls from Echo Show or Spot users or from the Alexa phone app. You can make and receive calls with Skype too.
- Shopping. Alexa is perfectly integrated with Amazon.com. My favorite commands:
- “Alexa, reorder [any previous Amazon order].” I use this to reorder coffee.
- “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.
- Sunrise Alarms. 15 minutes before your alarm is scheduled to go off, the screen’s brightness gradually increases.
- 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 right side, but the interface looks bad, isn’t intuitive, and is slow. It takes multiple taps to complete a simple 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 Nest Hub.
- 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.
- You can use Echo Show 5 as a digital picture frame, but the feature is buried in the settings, hard to set up, and doesn’t work as well as Nest Hub.
- 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.
- Echo Show uses a combination of Kitchen Stories, Side Chef, and Allrecipes for recipes.
- If you have Ring Video doorbell, it can display the video call when the doorbell is rung.
- Echo Show 5 has a 5.5” display (960px x 480px) with a 195ppi resolution. While the resolution is technically sharper, Google’s display looks nicer to my eyes.
- 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.
- The angle of the screen works better if you’re close to eye level. Show 5 makes sense for a nightstand, but the angle isn’t ideal if you’re standing while it’s on the kitchen counter. But you can fix the angle by buying the adjustable stand.
- It’s not ascetically pleasing and bulkier than it needs to be.
- Show 5’s screen size is fine, but the extra space on Nest Hub is great. Google nailed the size because there’s more screen real estate, but the device doesn’t feel bigger.
- There are volume and mic disable buttons on the top.
- Echo Show 5 only has two mics compared the four mics on Echo Show (2nd Gen).
- It has a one-megapixel camera. To disable the camera, you’ll slide the top button to the right and a cover slides over the camera. It gives you more assurance that no one is watching because you can visibly see the cover.
- The camera is 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.
Sound Quality (D+):
- It sounds similar to Echo Dot (3rd Gen).
- It sounds fine when Alexa speaks and for video, but I don’t recommend using it for music. Although, I’d pick Show 5 over Nest Hub for music if necessary because it’s louder, clearer, and has more bass.
- If you want a speaker with more power, Echo Show (2nd Gen) has the best speaker of any native Alexa device.
- It has a 3.5mm out port on the back for the option to plug in a better sounding speaker. You can use an external speaker with Bluetooth too.
Larger Option (C):
- Echo Show (2nd Gen) has a 10.1″ screen with a 125 PPI pixel density. It has the same features as Echo Show 5, but it has a superior speaker. Other notes:
- It’s ugly, bulky and oddly-angled. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. They couldn’t even make the top and bottom bezels symmetrical.
- 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.
- You can’t physically block the camera, but you can disable it via software.
- 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.
- When comparing this to a premium speaker, the bass is overkill for me and drowns out the other parts of the song.
- I prefer Sonos One and HomePod by a lot. Even affordable Bluetooth speakers, like JBL Flip 4, produce a more well-balanced sound.