“Move over Amazon: Lenovo’s Smart Display with Google Assistant features a sleek design and a crystal-clear display.”
- Two different sizes to choose from
- Integrates with Google Assistant
- Crystal clear display
- Manual camera shutoff option
- Plays YouTube
- Only usable in landscape mode, for now
- Sound quality could be improved
Now Google and the Google Assistant have elbowed their way into the mix. At CES, Google announced partnerships with third parties to build new smart assistant speakers featuring
The first thing we noticed about the Lenovo is its sharp design. The Lenovo is streamlined and minimalist — it looks a bit like a tablet being propped up with a case. The eight-inch model comes with a white trim and a soft gray color on the back, while the 10-inch model comes in a white trim with a bamboo-like texture on the back. Both devices feature a speaker on the front of the device.
One unique feature is that the Lenovo Smart Display can sit either horizontally or vertically depending on your preference, although sadly, only Google Duo phone calls work in portrait mode for now. Lenovo has told us that more functionality in portrait mode will come later.
The 10-inch model of the Lenovo looks huge, but somehow not bulky. We placed it in our kitchen, where it instantly looked at home.
The outside of the device features a volume button, a mic on/off switch, and a camera on/off switch that has a red indicator to show that it’s off, ensuring that those who are concerned about privacy need only glance at the top corner of the screen to check the status of the camera.
The resolution of the 8-inch screen is high definition (1,280 x 800) while the 10-inch screen is full high definition (1,920 x 1,200). We watched YouTube videos (something you can’t do on the Echo Show or Spot due to a feud between Google-owned YouTube and Amazon) on the 10-inch screen and found the clarity to be vivid and impressive.
We connected our Nest cam and were soon looking at bright, crisp camera footage from one of our test home bedrooms. We pulled up the same image on our Echo Show to compare. While they both looked similar, the Lenovo showed more clarity and crispness.
The Lenovo Smart Display is designed to do all the things that a Google Home or Google Home Mini can do. But instead of having that lasagna recipe read to you in the kitchen like you would with the Mini, you can also see the instructions, or watch a video of it being prepared on the screen. Having a screened voice assistant in the kitchen makes a huge difference, making it easier to follow along.
We placed it in our kitchen, where it instantly looked at home.
If you’re using
You can customize the home screen with pics from Google Photos or anywhere else you want to draw from. There are also several stock displays to choose from that include both digital and analog clock modes. You can swipe on the screen of the device directly to change brightness or sound or catch the previous card featuring the weather.
You can use the app to connect smart home devices and streaming music so that you can turn smart lights on or off by using your voice. Connecting to our Spotify and Pandora accounts was a breeze. The nice thing about the
The display features home screen tabs that you can customize by user through Voice Match as well as Routines. For example, you can set it up so that when you say, “Hey Google, good morning,” it can turn on a light in the room, give you a list of appointments for the day, tell you what the weather was like outside, and show you YouTube videos on the latest news of the day.
Speaking of YouTube, the continuing feud between Amazon and Google means that Amazon Echo Show users have been unable to see videos from the site on their devices for months now. We didn’t realize how much we missed YouTube until it came back into our lives via the Lenovo Smart Display. Oh, sweet, wonderful, time-sucking YouTube.
If you’re looking for incredible, life-changing audio, you won’t get it with this device, but that’s not really what it’s made for. We tested the sound of both the Smart Display and the Echo Show side by side by playing Coldplay’s “Magic” on Pandora. The sound was similar with both devices: nothing that audiophiles will write home about, but certainly good enough quality sound to fill a room during a dinner party.
One thing we noticed while trying to chat with the device during CES was that it didn’t hear us as well when the volume was loud. When we placed it in our test home, we tried to trick the device by talking softy, but had no similar issues with it hearing us.
The Lenovo Smart Display has a one year limited warranty.
With a crisp, clear display, a thin, beautiful streamlined look, and the brains of
Is there a better alternative?
In case you can’t tell, the Lenovo Smart Display’s biggest competition is the two Alexa products from Amazon with a screen, the $230 Echo Show or the $129 Echo Spot, which is small and round like an alarm clock. Both the Echo Show and Echo Spot feature
How long will it last?
The Lenovo Smart Display is sturdy, elegant and is backed by two trustworthy names: Lenovo and Google. We think the device will last years, and there’s no doubt that Lenovo and Google will continue to push supporting firmware updates from time to time.
Should you buy it?
Yes, especially if you’re already building a smart home powered by
Updated October 5, 2018 to note availability of the Lenovo and add information about the JBL Link View and the new Amazon Echo Show device.
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