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Lenovo Smart Display vs. Google Nest Hub

Many of us are investing in home hubs, where we can get virtual butler service, smart home control, and organization of our smart home gear at our beck and call. While Amazon’s Echo devices and Google Nest Hubs are two of the granddaddies of home automation technology, Lenovo also makes a home automation hub that piggybacks on the power of the Google Assistant. So should you get the original Google Nest Hub or look to Lenovo’s Smart Display?

Does the Lenovo Smart Display work with Google Home?

Nest Hub Max tilted view.
Google Nest Hub Max John Velasco/Digital Trends

It’s important to note right out of the gate that both the Google Nest Home Hub and Hub Max are native Google devices, and obviously, Google Assistant is built-in and works seamlessly on these products. Google Assistant can do a lot for you, from answering questions to making calls and appointments, maintaining lists, and keeping you updated on the latest news.

Lenovo is authorized to use Google Assistant in its devices, meaning it will work with all the same smart home devices as the original Google Nest Hubs. Tools like Google Duo for Wi-Fi calling and Google Photos are built into the Lenovo Smart Display.

One other note: Google Nest Hub is the name of the devices that replace the formerly-named Google Home Hub since Google bought Nest a few years ago.

Does Nest Hello work with the Lenovo Smart Display?

Will all Google’s devices work as seamlessly with Lenovo’s Smart Display? Let’s use the example of a video doorbell like Google Nest Hello. Theoretically, since the doorbell is a Google device, it should work with something like the Lenovo Smart Display. However, users in forums and chatrooms are reporting that while it is possible to link Google Nest Hello and the Lenovo Smart Display, sometimes the connectivity can be intermittent.

When it comes to how the Lenovo Smart Display works with other smart home devices, if it says “works with Google” on the package, it should work with this smart screen, too.

Lenovo Smart Display versus Google Nest Home Hub: How to choose the one that’s right for you

Lenovo Smart Display 7 side shot.
Lenovo Smart Display 7 John Velasco /Digital Trends

When it comes to picking between these two smart devices, the truth is they are actually quite similar. Both are smart home displays with screens and speakers designed to answer your questions, help around the house with conversions and reminders, and control smart home gadgets, too (through Google Assistant). Let’s dig in to the key similarities and differences between these two models and which you should consider getting.

Design

When it comes to looks, you’ve got two really good-looking devices. Certainly, both are much more attractive options to have sitting on your kitchen counter over the boxy Amazon’s Echo Show screens.

Each brand offers different sizes. Google has the Home Hub and Home Hub Max, while Lenovo offers three sizes: A 7-inch screen, an 8-inch version, and a large 10-inch display. The Lenovo Smart Display comes out on top here though, thanks to it’s sleek Scandi-inspired design with lean lines and matte white plastic (the larger 10-inch version features bamboo for a natural look that is perfect for minimalists). Take the bamboo version out of the equation, and truthfully, the Google Hubs look similar to Lenovo’s screens.

Features

Google Smarts: The backbone of both the Lenovo Smart Display and Google Nest Home Hub Max is the Google Assistant — so we’re on even footing here. Does the native Google system in the Home Hub work any better? In short, no. You’re getting the same power and smarts in both speakers.

Orientation: The Lenovo Smart Display has a cool option where you can use it either vertically or horizontally, thanks to its angled wedge design, meaning if you’re doing a Google Duo video call with someone on a vertically-oriented smartphone, you can flip the display and match perspectives. You can’t do this with the Google Nest Hubs; they have a base and that’s where they stay.

Cameras: There are cameras in both the Lenovo Smart Display and Google Nest Home Hubs. Lenovo’s options are a 2-megapixel camera in its smaller Smart Display 7 and up to a 5MP camera in the Smart Display 10.

With Google Nest 2nd-generation, the smaller Hub lacks a camera (owing to Google’s wish that you put this one in your bedroom as an alarm clock to further ingratiate the Google ecosystem into your world), while the larger Hub Max sports a 6.5MP camera. If megapixels matter, you’re going to be all about the Google Nest Hub Max.

Speakers: The speakers are the other key feature since they not only deliver on voice responses from Google Assistant, but they handle music playback, too. It can sometimes be hard to compare them directly since different manufacturers use different marketing messages. Lenovo Smart Display has a 5-watt speaker on the Smart Display 7 and 10 watts on the larger displays. Google Nest Hub has what’s called a “full-range speaker” with a 43.5mm (1.7-inch) driver, while the Hub Max uses a stereo speaker system with 10-watt tweeters and a 30-watt woofer. We could debate the nitty-gritty on audio intricacies here, but for us average users, you can expect both speakers to sound just fine, delivering enough power and fidelity for kitchen listening.

Price and availability

Prices for these devices naturally vary depending on the size you want. At the moment, it’s not easy to find any Lenovo Smart Display, at least not from Lenovo’s website, which we could read as a hint that perhaps new options are coming (or there are supply issues) — so you’ll probably be able to find discounted prices on the unit. The Google Nest Hub sells for about $99, while the Hub Max is around $229, and you can find either option at almost all electronics retailers, meaning if you’re looking to get your hands on something right away, Google Nest is your best bet.

The verdict

These two devices are indeed quite similar, and the big differences mainly come down to aesthetics and looks, so you can take your pick. But since the Lenovo Smart Displays seem to be hard to find, we think that if you’re looking for a smart speaker with a screen today, go for the Google Nest Hub Max.

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