So you’re planning to start a smart home. Naturally, the first thing that you need to get is a smart speaker, and there are plenty of excellent ones out there. However, smart speakers are limited to merely telling you what you want rather than showing it. If you want the increased functionality of having a touchscreen on top of a voice assistant listening to your every command, opt for a smart display instead. Want Alexa to control all your smart home devices? The 2nd-generation of Amazon’s Echo Show is currently on sale on Best Buy for a cool $50 off. Or if you want Google Assistant to attend to your every whim you can purchase JBL’s Link View for an even bigger $200 off.
– $100, was $300
JBL is renowned as a speaker maker, so it comes as no surprise that the Link View sounds great. This pill-shaped smart display has a flat front showcasing the LCD screen, while flanking it are its speaker components. There’s a toggle at the back that acts as the shutter button for the 5-megapixel camera above the screen (also useful for making video calls), and another one below to switch off the microphone. The screen is customizable to display the time and weather, and can also display either beautiful stock pictures or your Google photos.
To summon Google Assistant, you have to use the wake words “Hey, Google” or “Ok, Google.” A white bar will appear on top of the screen to tell you that she’s listening. We’ve had a near-seamless interaction with her while using Google Home, and the Link View proved equally impressive. She’s usually pretty accurate provided you speak very clearly, although we did have a few complaints. The Link View doesn’t have a search bar, but you can scroll through different screens with suggestions for how to look up recipes, play games, and hear the news. And you also need to be very specific if you want her to play a song or a music video, as she might accidentally fire up Spotify or YouTube even if it’s not exactly what you’re asking for. On the other hand, recipes are far easier to follow because of the screen. You can simply swipe back to the previous page aside from having Google Assistant read to you the instructions, making the JBL Link View the perfect little kitchen aid.
JBL’s pedigree as a speaker company really shines with the Link View, offering a fuller, richer sound than most smart displays. We can spend hours listening to our Spotify playlists on it, although we encountered a problem when we placed it a room away from our Google Home. Both still battled over who could answer our command first. You can order the JBL Link View on Best Buy today for a huge $200 off. It’s practically a steal for just $100 instead of $300.
– $180, was $230
The second generation of the Echo Show is the Alexa-powered mini TV you need. A marked improvement over the original version, it now sports a bigger screen and improved acoustics. What’s even better is you can get it now on Best Buy for $180 instead of $230 – a cool $50 off.
Featuring a 10-inch crystal clear touch display (the previous one was seven inches), the bigger screen is easier to navigate and see from across the room. The picture quality has also improved tremendously, so much so that you don’t need a second TV if you already have this in your den, kitchen, or any room. Amazon has ditched the old version’s blocky and retro look in favor of a more streamlined form, with a sandstone or charcoal fabric backing. On top of the Echo Show are three buttons: One to mute and un-mute the microphone, and two volume control buttons. Finally, there’s a 5-megapixel camera on top for calling other Alexa devices (including those found in your home) or to call someone’s phone using the Alexa app. Soon the Echo Show will be able to support Skype calls as well.
The audio quality is excellent. The older version’s stereo speakers have been upgraded to dual premium drivers and a passive bass radiator, and the improvement can definitely be heard. You’ll be able to feel the bass reverberate when you play any beat-heavy song. And just like the Echo Plus, this works as a smart hub, so you can control Zigbee-compatible smart home devices through Alexa.
The JBL Link View and Amazon Echo Show smart displays prove that they’re not just tablets attached to smart speakers. They both offer expanded functionality thanks to their touchscreens and they also work well as music players. Get them today on Best Buy and save up to $200.
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