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Google Home Hub

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Beware when buying third-party Google Assistant speakers and Smart Displays, updates and features are not equal

Another year, another category of Google-compatible products has flooded the market. A few years ago, it was the Chromecast, then it was the Google Home and Home Mini, and now it's the Google Home Hub. With every first-party release comes a slew of third-party alternatives, boasting the same features, same integrations, same functions, but with different designs and prices. On paper, they should be equal to Google's, but time and time again, we've learned that they're not.

Never though have the lines blurred as much as with the Home Hub and its Lenovo and JBL brethren. They look almost the same, both on the outside and in their interface, and Google pushed them earlier than its Home Hub, advertising them and talking about them as if they were its own.

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Save $80 when you buy a Google Home Hub with select Nest products

Google Home Hub has some neat integrations with various smart home products. You can, for example, use it to adjust thermostats, or see who's at the front door. Google-owned Nest just so happens to make both smart thermostats and smart doorbells, among other things — and right now, you can save 80 bucks by buying a Hub with select Nest products on the Google Store.

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[Update: Dead] Google Home Hub and Home Mini bundle just $99 from Walmart

We've seen plenty of good deals on Google's recently-released Home Hub smart display this Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Most retailers have had it discounted to $99, and there were some even better deals to be had with a bit of research. However, Walmart's $99 Home Hub and Home Mini bundle is the best offer we've seen yet.

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Google Home Hub and Lenovo Smart Display updates bring touch alarms and more

Both the Google Home Hub and Lenovo Smart Display have received updates that make them better alarm clocks: you can now set alarms by touch, without the need to talk to the devices. The new functionality comes in firmware version 4.4.1.16+prod on the Lenovo display and version 1.36 on the Home Hub — although the 1.36 update is currently only available for Hubs enrolled in the Google's Preview Program.

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Which to buy: Google Home Hub or Lenovo Smart Display?

It's the most wonderful time of the year when everything goes on sale and retailers everywhere push hard to get their wares into your hands. If you've been holding out for a sale before choosing between the Lenovo Smart Display and the Google Home Hub, now is your chance to find a deal. We’ll tell you where to look if you want to save some cash. But before you go shopping, here are some things to consider before you decide whether to bring home Lenovo's 8- or 10-inch smart display, or Google's smaller Home Hub.

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Target's Black Friday sale will include $50 off Google Home and Home Hub

Believe it or not, it's just two weeks and change until Thanksgiving — and more to the point, Black Friday. Target's ad is out, and the retailer has got some solid deals on Google goods: $50 off the Home and Home Hub, plus money off the Google Home Mini and both Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra.

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[Deal Alert] Get Google Home Hub for $99 ($50 off) in select Nest promo bundles

One of the most interesting things you can do with a smart display is to pair it with a doorbell that streams and records video, making it easier to identify visitors before you get to the door. If you have neither of those devices, Google is currently offering a bundle deal for its new Home Hub plus a Nest Hello doorbell that reduces the smart display to $99 from $150, bringing the total for the two devices to $328. Both the Google Store and Best Buy are also offering the discount when customers pair the Home Hub with a variety of other Nest and Google products, including the third generation Nest Learning Thermostat. 

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Chromecast and Smart Displays start showing portrait photos side-by-side

If you own a Chromecast, a Home Hub, or a Smart Display, you may soon notice something different when using Google Photos in Ambient mode. Instead of showing up centered, two related pics will display side-by-side.

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[Update: Duo audio calls too] Google Home Hub supports Duo calls, but the recipient will only see your profile pic

When the Google Home Hub leaks first started, everyone was miffed by the absence of a front-facing camera for Duo calls. Later, with the device's official announcement, those leaks were proven to be true, and Google explained that it chose to skip the cam for privacy reasons (though we all know the decision was more likely a matter of competitive pricing.) However, what we didn't know was that the Home Hub would indeed support Duo calls, even without the camera.

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Google Home Hub review: A smarter smart display

Google started talking about Assistant-powered smart displays earlier this year, but it let Lenovo and JBL roll out the first products. Google unveiled its Assistant display alongside the new Pixel phones, and it's not just the same guts in a new shell. Google has added some unique features and also omitted one that all other devices have.

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