The Google Hub digital photo frame has the power of a big brand name behind it – but does that mean it performs on par with big brand expectations? Let’s take a look.
The Google Hub works as a smart hub for your home, with the addition of the 7-inch 1280×800 resolution display. This display is used to showcase pictures from your Google Photos account directly on your frame. While this might seem like a great feature, several premium frames like the Pix-Star offer this basic functionality – while still letting you connect to Facebook, Dropbox, Flickr, and many more.
Any photos you want to view on your Google Hub digital photo frame need to first be loaded onto your Google Photos account. This is a big plus if you’re a big fan of the Google Photos platform, but quite a big drawback if you aren’t. There is limited internal storage as the frame is designed to work mainly off of the Google Photos cloud system.
If you compare the Google Hub digital photo frame with the Pix-Star by their capability as a digital photo frame – the Pix-Star comes out on top. You get unique features like the ability to link and control up to 25 frames from a single user account. There’s also a remote-control function that lets you manage your frame’s settings and slideshows from anywhere in the world.
You’re also not just limited to using Google Photos to load pictures onto your Pix-Star frame. You can link your frame to around a dozen photo-sharing and social media platforms including Google Photos & Drive, Dropbox, Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, and many more. These albums are automatically updated, synced, and saved whenever you add new photos.
You also have finer control over slideshow speed, style, and order. You can choose to play a specific folder of photos, or play several folders of pictures from multiple sources in the same slideshow. Additionally, you can choose to display newer photos from the past “x” number of days more frequently (or exclusively). Slideshows can be started directly from the home screen with just one or two button presses.
Unfortunately, the Google Hub digital frame uses a touchscreen. We usually advise you to avoid touchscreens as they are fingerprint magnets, which in turn can ruin the viewing experience and require constant wiping and cleaning. They’re also more prone to scratches and are generally less durable (and more expensive) than non-touch displays. This extra cost is often recuperated by sacrificing some useful functions and features.
The Pix-Star also has a more immersive display thanks to the thin bezels and larger 10-inch (or 15-inch) screen. Color and brightness settings can be manually adjusted. This is generally better than having it done automatically, as sensor-based adjustments aren’t very consistent in low light settings.
The Pix-Star digital photo frame and the Google Hub are very similarly priced. If you need a digital photo frame that has plenty of features and versatility (not limited to receiving photos and other media from a single source), the Pix-Star is one of the best options out there.
The Google Hub digital frame can play videos from various sources, but it can’t include those videos in slideshows mixed with photos. Many premium frames like the Pix-Star offer this feature, letting you choose to mute or unmute the videos within slideshows. It’s a neat feature to have if you want to view personal video clips mixed in with photos.
That being said, the Google Hub digital photo frame can play videos from some streaming platforms (not Netflix) and occasionally from YouTube. The audio quality on the Google Hub is known to be quite poor – though digital “photo” frames aren’t designed to focus on audio playback.
The only aspect of the Google Hubs functionality that you can control remotely is the Google Photos part. You can manage your Google Photos and folders remotely from any connected device, though this doesn’t let you sync or display them on your Google Hub digital frame.
Unlike many other premium digital photo frames (like the Pix-Star), you can’t remotely control the Google Hubs settings unless you’re within its range. You generally need to start slideshows in person and navigate through them using the touchscreen. You can send photos to the frame from the mobile app, but they’ll still use the Google Photos platform.
Web albums are photos and photo albums saved on your social media and photo-sharing platforms. These can also include photos imported from external sources and send to the frame/hub via mobile app or web interface.
The only web albums that the Google Hub can display are from your Google Photos account. There is no way to view photos from Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Flickr, or any of the other major photo-sharing sites or social media networks.
If you want a frame that is designed to play photos and videos, with features and functions dedicated to boosting and enhancing this experience, a digital photo frame is the better choice for you.
If you want a hub that can be linked up with your smart home (to varying extents) and can be controlled by voice command – but don’t mind sacrificing digital photo frame features and functions, a hub like the Google Hub might be the better choice.
It’s worth noting that the Google Hub is priced very similarly to most premium digital photo frames like the Pix-Star, but the feature-richness and versatility (as a digital photo frame) struggle to match what premium photo frames can do. That being said, there are also several features and functions on the Google Hub such as grouping photos by face recognition and location. These typically can’t be done with most digital photo frames (and you can’t use voice commands or link them directly to your smart home).