Not just a tablet
The Google Pixel Tablet may look like a regular Android tablet, but thanks to the included Charging Speaker Dock, it can be transformed into a smart home hub.
- Larger display
- Can be used as a traditional Android tablet
- Charging Speaker Dock is included
- Built-in Chromecast
- More expensive
- Does not include a Thread radio
Still the best smart display
The Nest Hub Max has been around for a few years now, and while it's getting a bit long in the tooth, it's still a fantastic smart display and has the benefit of being your smart home hub.
- Better audio thanks to larger speakers
- Features a built-in Thread radio
- Better as a stationary smart home display and hub
- The physical switch disables the camera and microphones
- Built-in Chromecast
- Less expensive
- Lower-resolution front-facing camera
- Outdated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios
- Lacks support for downloading more apps
Comparing the Pixel Tablet vs. Nest Hub Max might come as a bit of a surprise, but if you watched Google's presentation during I/O 2023, it's not that far-fetched. That's because while the Pixel Tablet is running Android and the Nest Hub Max is running Fuschia, there are more similarities than you might think.
Google Pixel Tablet vs. Nest Hub Max: Design and specs
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When docked, the Pixel Tablet and Nest Hub Max look virtually identical thanks to Google's inclusion of the Charging Speaker Dock. Essentially, you're getting a big screen attached to a speaker base that allows you to control your smart home, make video calls, or stream content.
The Pixel Tablet features a slightly-larger 10.95-inch screen with a 2560 x 1600 resolution compared to the 10-inch 1280 x 800 display on the Nest Hub Max. This immediately gives the former a leg up, as the screen will look more crisp, while also being better for media consumption.
Released in 2019, the Nest Hub Max is powered by the AMLogic S905D2 processor, which isn't really something you'll find in the best Android tablets. That's mainly due to the fact that Google's smart display is running Fuchsia OS, a Google-developed operating system meant to be "simple, secure, updatable, and performant."
Both of these devices also feature a built-in Chromecast, with the Pixel Tablet coming as the first Android tablet to include this. It provides the same functionality found with the Nest Hub Max which also includes a Chromecast.
Moving onto the speakers, the Nest Hub Max is equipped with two 18mm 10W tweeters and a single 75mm 30W woofer. In comparison, the Pixel Tablet features a quad-speaker array on the tablet itself, along with a single 43.5mm woofer built into the Charging Speaker Dock.
The Nest Hub Max also gains an edge in terms of smart home compatibility thanks to the built-in Thread radio. This is a networking protocol that helps to connect all of the best smart home lights and other accessories.
However, and rather surprisingly, the Pixel Tablet and its Speaker Dock do not include a Thread radio. This means that your Pixel Tablet won't be able to act as a central hub for communicating between different smart home accessories. Whereas the Nest Hub Max can do so and is more suitable for acting as a central hub in your home.
Google Pixel Tablet vs. Nest Hub Max: Features and pricing
As we mentioned previously, the Pixel Tablet is running Android 13 out of the box while the Nest Hub Max is using Google's Fuchsia OS. This makes for completely different interfaces, but Google is also starting to blur the lines a little bit.
In addition to including the Charging Speaker Dock, Google has implemented a new "Hub Mode" feature into the Pixel Tablet. When docked, the Pixel Tablet can be turned into a smart picture frame, smart home controller, and more. While they look different, it's pretty much the same functionality as what you'll find on the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max.
But the Pixel Tablet also has another major benefit, as you can remove it from the Charging Speaker Dock and just use it like any other Android tablet. This is obviously something that you can't do with the Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max. So essentially, the Pixel Tablet is a two-in-one type of device compared to the "set it and forget it" nature of the Nest Hub Max.
While the Nest Hub Max might be better suited for those wanting a smart home hub with its Thread radio, the Pixel Tablet is definitely the more versatile device. However, there's one more thing to take into consideration when comparing the Pixel Tablet vs. Nest Hub Max; the price.
Despite being released almost four years ago, the Nest Hub Max remains one of the best smart displays and still retails for $229. Meanwhile, the Pixel Tablet is priced at $499 and includes the Charging Speaker Dock in the box, giving you the full experience without needing to spend more.
We would venture to guess that Google is hoping that you will end up spending more, as you can pick up additional Speaker Docks for $130 a piece. This would give you the flexibility to dock your Pixel Tablet when you move between rooms. So instead of needing multiple Nest Hubs, the Pixel Tablet can just be docked wherever you go.
Google Pixel Tablet vs. Nest Hub Max: Which should you buy?
On one hand, the Nest Hub Max is arguably the better smart home hub simply due to the built-in Thread radio. This is an important piece of the smart home puzzle and something that Google doesn't include in the Pixel Tablet or its Charging Speaker Dock. The Nest Hub Max is also less expensive, so for the price of one Pixel Tablet, you could pick up two Nest Hub Max displays.
But on the other, the Pixel Tablet is easily the more versatile device of the two. Simply place the Charging Speaker Dock on a countertop or side table, and throw the Pixel Tablet on there to read recipes or to have something on in the background. Then, you can just take it off of the dock and use it as a regular tablet with all of your favorite apps.
It really just comes down to whether you value the versatility of the Pixel Tablet or just want a smart home display.
Versatility at its finest
Instead of releasing a productivity-focused tablet, Google took a different approach. Between the Pixel Tablet and the included Charging Speaker Dock, this provides much more versatility than most other tablets out there.
Controlling your smart home
We're still waiting for a successor to the Nest Hub Max, but the current iteration works almost perfectly. There are a few qualms and frustrations, but it has one purpose and it does it well.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.