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Lenovo Smart Display Review

Lenovo Smart Display

The Lenovo Smart Display is the first of a series of smart speakers with a screen that integrates Google Assistant (which also includes the LG ThinQ View WK9 and the JBL Link View) in its first attempt offers a very good experience.

The idea of this smart speaker is to offer the same functions that we currently use with speakers like Google Home Mini, but adding a camera to make video calls and a visual aspect to better understand the answers of the virtual assistant or to better interact with your requests.

The Lenovo Smart Display arrives, without a doubt, to compete with the Amazon Echo Show ( $ 230 on Amazon.com ) and although Alexa continues to lead in some aspects (later on that), the Smart Display manages to become a more complete package thanks to the Multiple Google services and their integration.

What is certain is that the Lenovo Smart Display does not work completely like a tablet with an integrated speaker, as one would generally imagine the first time you see it, which limits it a bit – although it also distinguishes it. This is important because although we have Google Assistant in millions of cell phones and tablets, the Lenovo Smart Display offers much more visual and attractive responses that accompany the voice of the assistant, but this also means that it does not have access to the app store of Android (runs Android Things, the operating system for smart home devices and the Internet of Things) as many would like, but is completely focused on Google Assistant extensions and apps that live mainly in the cloud.

Although the Lenovo Smart Display is the first of four speakers with a screen and Google Assistant that have been presented, the experience is good and opens the possibilities for your virtual assistant to reach more houses to help more users.

At this time it is the best smart speaker with screen that you can buy, although the Amazon Echo Show will offer you a better experience if you are very attached to the Amazon ecosystem and not much to Google. In addition, that horn has the advantage of allowing you to buy Amazon without problems and shows you the lyrics of the songs, although you will need to subscribe to Prime Music to enjoy all the music you want.

Editor’s note : This analysis was done using the 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display, but the differences with the 8-inch are few.

Price and availability

The Lenovo Smart Display is available in 8 and 10-inch versions priced at US $ 199 and US $ 249.

Lenovo Smart Display: Features and specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 624 (1.8GHz)
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 4GB
  • Front camera: 5 megapixels
  • Operating system: Android Things
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2×2) MIMO (2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth
  • Microphone: Double 2 x 2
  • Buttons / sliders: Mute microphone, block camera and volume
  • Energy: Electricity transmitted by a plug, does not work through battery
Lenovo Smart Display

The Lenovo Smart Display is the first smart speaker with a screen that integrates Google Assistant, the virtual assistant of the Mountain View company.

Differences between the model of 8 and 10 inches (in addition to the price)

  • 8-inch screen: HD resolution of 1,280×800 pixels (IPS)
  • 10-inch screen: HD resolution of 1,980×1200 pixels (IPS)
  • Sound of the 8-inch: 1.75-inch 10-watt dual passive radiator
  • Sound of the 10-inch: 2-inch 10-watt dual passive radiator
  • Weight of the 8-inch: 2.2 pounds
  • Weight of the 10-inch: 2.6 pounds
  • Dimensions of the 8-inch: 263.21×142.21×12.5 – 111.36mm
  • Dimensions of the 10-inch: 311.37×173.87×12.5 – 136.02mm
  • Color of the 8-inch: Gray
  • 10 inch color: Bamboo
Lenovo Smart Display

The Lenovo Smart Display is available in two sizes, one 8-inch (left) and one 10-inch.

What functions does the Lenovo Smart Display have?

  • Answer questions that you ask with voice and many visual support.
  • It allows you to control devices of the smart home and offers a visual guide of the state of the device and options to control them.
  • It offers cooking recipes with ingredients and a cooking guide with voice and text.
  • You can make purchases through Google Express.
  • You can search for restaurants and you can send the information to your cell phone.
  • It has a screensaver in which you can place predetermined images or your photos from Google Photos (it is synchronized automatically).
  • It has a screen always on where at least it shows you the time.
  • Allows you to make free calls in the United States and Canada.
  • You can make video calls to people who use Google Duo.
  • Play music (such as Google Play Music and Spotify), news and videos (YouTube).
  • The main screen shows the weather, as well as other related information such as your calendar or videos of your interest
  • Schedule alarms and countdowns
  • Create shopping lists
  • Play different games
  • You can search with your voice content that you have captured and stored in Google Photos.
  • You can create Google Assistant routines.
  • You can use it to communicate messages through other Smart Display or Google Home at home.
  • The camera has a privacy function that blocks it so that it can not always see what is in front of it (with a physical mechanism).
  • The microphone can also be silenced through a button.
  • Among other.

Main differences with Google Home, Home Mini and other speakers with Google Assistant (without screen)

  • When you indicate a voice command you can see what it is that you are understanding (text in the upper left part of the screen).
  • The answers are usually complemented with visual information.
  • You can control different functions through the touch screen.
  • According to the question you ask, Google Assistant visually shows you some options to continue interacting with him.
  • You can watch and listen to YouTube videos without having to subscribe to YouTube Red.
  • You can make video calls.
  • The recipes are much more advanced, precise and useful – it is undoubtedly one of the most polished and outstanding functions.
  • You can watch live streaming of cameras, such as the Nest Cam IQ .

Design: Relatively elegant and well-built

I can not say that the Lenovo Smart Display is the nicest home device I’ve seen, but its good construction and its bamboo imitation backside looks great. In addition, the design is ingenious to allow placing it in vertical mode, in case at some point the whole interface is optimized for that, because currently it is not.

The horn is heavy, but it is not a device that you can carry everywhere or at least that is not the purpose. The Lenovo Smart Display does not have a battery, so it would not make much sense to try to take it everywhere if it is not going to work.

I would have liked the bevels to be a little smaller and although the combination of black and white feels good, maybe it would have been more interesting if the front were just a tone, or at least have that option.

Something good that arrives in the Lenovo Smart Display is the gateway that Lenovo has implemented in its laptops to block the cameras and offer more security. If you are very concerned about privacy, you can move the slider located on the side edge so that a plastic gate blocks the camera and can not transmit anything that can be identified. Even this gateway offers protection if the Lenovo Smart Display becomes hacked for some reason (I’m not saying that it’s going to happen but no device is fully protected), the mechanism is not electric, so it can only be controlled manually and offers that visual protection.

In addition, the Lenovo Smart Display also integrates volume controls and a switch to mute the microphone.

The touch screen reproduces well the colors and has good brightness, but this does not mean that it is the best screen I have seen – it is good for its purpose and fulfills what is necessary to have a good experience.

Lenovo Smart Display

The buttons on the Lenovo Smart Display and the bamboo back of the 10-inch version.

Navigation: Voice or touch screen

This intelligent speaker of Lenovo can be controlled with the voice as it is done with any Google Home, but its touch screen also allows you to control other functions of your Android Things operating system.

The main screen shows the weather and personalized information, such as reminders, appointments in the calendar or simply activities related to the last things you requested.

In addition, the Lenovo Smart Display has a screen saver in which you can select different default images or even use Google Photos (more on this below).

Also, the speaker with screen has a screen always on that shows you at least the time.

The interface is relatively simple and is large. Actually, there are not many things that you can customize but you can control if you want to show your calendar and personalized content on the main screen.

The screen works like any other touch screen, mainly through gestures. You can slide from the edge (left) to go to the main screen and you can slide from the bottom to access the brightness, volume, do not disturb and some settings controls.

Control center of your smart home

Like Google Home, Home Mini or Home Max, the Lenovo Smart Display serves as a control center for your smart home.

The same devices are compatible with this speaker with screen and work the same. However, the advantage is that the screen shows you the status of what you requested and also allows you to control it from there. This is something that you can not even do with Google Assistant on cell phones or tablets.

For example, for lights you can control the intensity or colors from there, as long as you have a smart focus like Philips Hue.

I still consider that Google Assistant is the most appropriate way to automate your home because you usually need to use your voice to activate or achieve something, similar to what Amazon Alexa offers.

However, I consider that platforms such as SmartThings and Wink manage to offer the closest that home automation we have imagined for the future, while they can also be integrated into different voice systems such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Lenovo Smart Display

For the smart home, the Lenovo Smart Display offers a view of the status and controls of different devices.

Something differentiating that for example the Echo Show can do with the Amazon Cloud Cam is that the Lenovo Smart Display allows you to ask Google Assistant to activate the live transmission of a camera like Nest Cam IQ on your screen.

A digital photo frame with Google Photos

One of the biggest strengths of the Lenovo Smart Display is its integration with Google services and one of them is Google Photos.

In the screen saver you can select an album or your favorite photos in Google Photos to be visible there to work as a digital photo frame. After a few seconds the photos change, but you can also pass them by swiping your finger.

Since this is synchronized in the cloud, if you mark a new photo as a favorite or add a new photo to that album, the Lenovo Smart Display knows it and adds it to that group of photos that it will show.

The bad thing here is that you can not currently control the time in which the photos pass or the effect that applies when this happens.

 

Play YouTube videos without problems

One of the results in the battle between Google and Amazon has been that YouTube was blocked from the Amazon Echo Show, although later Amazon managed to integrate through Firefox.

The Lenovo Smart Display does not logically have any problems with YouTube and can play the videos you want on your screen.

An exemplary kitchen assistant

One of the great strengths of the Lenovo Smart Display is directly in its utility in the kitchen, not only can be controlled without hands (or hands if you want) but you can search for recipes that shows you clearly on the screen, just as it tells you through the voice of Google Assistant.

The results offer photos, reviews, ingredients and the step by step of each recipe, including the preparation time and what it takes to cook it. Google Assistant not only tells you with your voice, but also shows it to you with text. Also, you are the one that tells Google Assistant when you’re ready for the next step and the screen stays on so you can still verify what you’re doing if you do not want to ask with your voice.

Lenovo Smart Display.

The results of the recipes of the Lenovo Smart Display.

Google Assistant is always active the same, so in spite of this you can ask all kinds of questions or play music – only many times you have to go back to the recipe.

As if that were not enough, Google Assistant includes all the other basic functions that can be implemented in the kitchen, such as programming alarms or countdowns.

An Internet music player

The Lenovo Smart Display works just like a Google Home Mini in the sense of playing music. You can use services like Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube Music and Pandora.

You just have to have your account connected to your preferred service, although Play Music and YouTube Music are already connected to your Google account. The company says YouTube Music is free for devices with screen like the Lenovo Smart Display, while YouTube Premium is mandatory on other devices.

Google Assistant meets the expectations here and in other smart speakers. The main difference with the Google Home is that it tells you what is being played, the status and offers controls on the screen, but it does not show the lyrics of the songs as the Amazon Echo Show does.

One half tablet

At first glance the Lenovo Smart Display looks like a tablet with a large integrated speaker. However, run Android Things (not Android P , Android Oreo, Android Go or similar) and does not have an app store that allows you to extend its functions considerably.

In fact, the Lenovo Smart Display depends entirely on Google Assistant and its apps that live in the cloud generally, so they are apps that you do not usually have to download or install.

No integration with Netflix or Sling TV

The Lenovo Smart Display supports content services such as YouTube, YouTube TV, Google Play Movies and TV, Hulu, HBO Go / HBO Now, Vimeo and CBS, among others, but it is not compatible or has integration with Netflix.

Many of the services depend on the function of Google Cast, but it is strange that not all the services generally compatible with Google Cast do not work here.

Performance and sound

In general, the performance of the Lenovo Smart Display is fine and I think it is just enough to offer a good experience.

However, sometimes the animations are not totally fluid, sometimes it takes time to recognize what you said and it seems to me that sometimes at a distance you do not hear as well as you would expect.

Also, some results in which Google Assistant gives you the answer or definition of what you searched through voice, on the screen shows only the word you define and a link.

In terms of sound quality, the Lenovo Smart Display fulfills a good sound balance with bass. It is clear that the quality could be better, but I think that because of its price and the kind of device it is, it meets expectations and offers a relatively good experience.

Lenovo Smart Display

When you ask about the weather, the Lenovo Smart Display shows you much more than it tells you.

conclusion

The Lenovo Smart Display is the best smart speaker with a screen that you can buy today, whether you prefer Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. However, if you are too tied or tied to Amazon products and services, the Amazon Echo Show would be a better option, although it will depend on if you are subscribed to Amazon Prime Music, you have more Echo speakers and what would be your main purpose to have this class of device.

The Lenovo Smart Display is not perfect, but its good integration with Google services and products (of the most popular in the world), its optimized interface for this kind of device and functions, such as the kitchen, make it an option Very complete.

Even more important, if you are one of those people who like to cook and search for recipes online, the Lenovo Smart Display is the best device that can assist you with this function for this purpose, whether using only your voice or your touch screen.

The functions offered by the Lenovo Smart Display with Google Assistant [photos]

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Lenovo Smart Display Review
  • Functions
  • Use
  • Design
  • Performance
4.3

Summary

The good: The Lenovo Smart Display works very well with the ecosystem of Google products and services, its interface is well designed for this kind of device, it is available in two sizes, it allows to block the camera to offer more security and its design is relatively attractive . In addition, its recipe guide is very well optimized and allows you to make free calls to the United States and Canada.

The bad: There is no Netflix support. Only allows to make video calls through Google Duo (how many people use Duo?). It does not always offer full fluency and in vertical mode, at the moment, it does not work very well. It does not show the lyrics of the songs that are reproduced, such as the Amazon Echo Show, and it can not be configured in Spanish.

Conclusion: The Lenovo Smart Display is the first smart speaker with a screen and Google Assistant that is very well integrated into Google’s products and services, and will be a great help in your home kitchen.

Kyle is the cheif editor of Today's Android. He's from Manchester, London. He's responsible for covering news from UK and around the globe.

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