Smart displays are basically hybrids of smart speakers and tablets, voice-controlled touchscreen devices that display useful bits of information, let you manage your smart home, and play music and videos. Powered by voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, you can bark commands from across your room in order to set up appointments, ask for a weather or traffic update, order something online, or inquire about, well, anything. Three of the best smart displays we’ve ever tested are the Lenovo Smart Display, JBL Link View, and 2nd-gen Amazon Echo Show. Save as much as $150 when you get them on Amazon and Best Buy today.
The Lenovo Smart Display is the jack-of-all-trades of smart displays: Not really specializing in one key area, but nevertheless good in all essential aspects. It’s powered by Google Assistant and is a great addition to any table or countertop, whether in the living room or kitchen. Available in 8- and 10-inch models (this deal’s unit is the former), this smart display looks streamlined, chic, and ultra-modern. You can either position it vertically or horizontally, although sadly, Google Duo calls will only work in portrait mode for now. The 8-inch screen is surrounded by white trim, with the prominent speaker component on the side. The outside of the device features a volume button, a mic on/off switch, and a camera on/off switch with a red indicator to show that it’s off, for those who are wary about losing privacy.
This smart display’s touchscreen has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels and it’s crisp, bright, and gorgeous. We recommend you place this in your kitchen as the ability to read the instructions or watch an actual video on any recipe is infinitely preferable to just having it read to you out loud. You can also customize what you see on screen. This smart display can act as a digital picture frame to display all your Google Photos, and a simple swipe of the screen will allow you to directly change brightness or sound or catch the previous card featuring the weather. Furthermore, setting up Routines will let the Lenovo Smart Display perform a set of tasks simultaneously. You can just say, “Hey Google, good morning,” for it to turn on all smart lights in your bedroom, give you all your appointments for the day, tell you what the weather is like outside, and show you YouTube videos or the latest news.
As a speaker, the Lenovo Smart Display is adequate. It can certainly fill a room with sufficient sound, although audiophiles won’t be bopping their heads to it. If you want superior audio you might want to take a look at the JBL Link View and Amazon Echo Show below.
The Lenovo Smart Display normally costs $200, but take advantage of Best Buy’s deal right now and get it for half that price.
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 or have Google Assistant read 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 $150 off. It’s practically a steal for just $150 instead of $300.
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 a refurbished unit now on Amazon for the discounted price of $210.
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 or kitchen. 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 Lenovo Smart Display, JBL Link View and Amazon Echo Show prove that they’re not just tablets attached to smart speakers. They offer expanded functionality thanks to their touchscreens and also work well as music players. Save up to $150. when you get them on Amazon and Best Buy today.
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