We tested smart displays by Google and Amazon to see how helpful they were in the kitchen.
Published Dec. 16, 2019.
At first glance, the latest smart displays from Amazon and Google are pretty similar. Both the Google Nest Hub Max and the Amazon Echo Show have 10-inch screens, operate by voice or touch, and can control other linked devices in your home, from lights to smoke detectors to small appliances. Both can play music, make calls, report the news or weather, and show photos and videos.
Smart displays are assuming an increasing role in the home, and more than half of all American households expected to have at least one smart display by 2021, according to Juniper Research. Many people put a smart display in the kitchen, which is often the hub of home life. Smart display manufacturers believe that using these devices as kitchen helpers and reference tools is one of the most important ways people have adopted this technology.
“We see cooking as one of the most retentive things we have,” said Lilian Rincon, director of product management for Google Assistant, the virtual assistant of Google Nest Hub Max. “People who discover that they can use Assistant in the kitchen tend to come back.”
So which one is a better kitchen helper: the Google Nest Hub Max or Amazon Echo Show? To find out, we devised a list of 58 cooking-related tasks and questions of increasing complexity. We started with tasks such as setting and adjusting one or more timers and basic questions such as “How many tablespoons are in ¼ cup?” Then we moved to slightly more complicated questions, such as those about ingredient substitutions. Finally we moved to an advanced round, asking a series of complex cooking-related questions with potentially hard-to-find answers. We ranked the responses as good, fair, or poor, assigning a numerical value to each rating, and totaled up the scores.
Along the way, we judged how easy or difficult it was to communicate with the devices, noting if we needed to carefully construct our requests or could use natural human speech and if the devices got stumped (and if they asked for more information when they did). We considered the accuracy and completeness of the answers we got and the relative reliability of their sources of information—if they provided a source at all.
We also considered the devices’ designs and controls as well as other functions and features that they offered, which we tested whenever possible.
Before we get to the scores, here are some kitchen-related abilities the devices had in common: Both were able to keep shopping lists, set timers, provide and display reminders at appropriate times, calculate recipe measurement conversions, answer questions abou...
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.