As one of the more recent smart device trends, smart speakers can be found from a range of manufacturers and in a variety of sizes. The Lenovo Smart Display looks to take this trend and present it in a whole new way -- namely with the addition of a large touchscreen. But is it something that adds value to the device or a mere gimmick to entice buyers?
Reviewers loved the display’s design. Its asymmetric, triangular corner doubles as an integrated stand in both portrait and landscape modes while the speaker pumps out plenty of volume -- though some found it a bit shallow in terms of base and overall depth.
There are two variants available. One includes an 8-inch, 1280-by-800 pixel touchscreen display, a 1.75-inch, 10-watt woofer, and a grey rubberized rear coating. The other is a 10-inch, 1920-by-1200 touchscreen display, a 2-inch 10-watt woofer, and a smooth bamboo rear panel.
Reviewers loved the look of the larger model but found the smaller acceptable as well if space or budget concerns apply.
Powering the display, you’ll find a Snapdragon 624-based Home Hub platform with 2GB of RAM. While it responded fast enough to common commands, many reviews noted sluggishness when loading in-depth information -- such as playlists from Spotify or step-by-step recipe instructions from Google. Still, it wasn’t enough to be frustrating to most, simply enough to notice.
Microphones sit on the top edge of the display. Unlike many smart speakers, reviewers found the dual microphone array on the display highly directional. Issue commands from behind or beside the unit received mixed responses. However, speaking directly at it worked great.
This is important because while there is a touchscreen for added controls and interactivity, you still must use voice commands to start most commands or activities. Many reviewers hoped that Google or Lenovo would add a more touch-centric control to the display.
Most commands are started using “Hey Google.” With support for multiple voices and profiles, you can assign the whole family to a single speaker and get responses customized to their contacts, photos, and general preferences. But, there’s G Suite account support or Continued Conversations support. So don’t expect to look up work calendar entries or perform complex commands just yet.
There’s full integration with Android Things supported devices -- such as Nest thermostats, Nest outdoor cameras, Philips Hue lightbulbs, and full Chromecast support. There’s currently an issue with Netflix. However, most other apps stream to the display with no issues.
The display includes 4GB of storage. But, given it requires power to function, isn’t exactly portable, and connects to Google’s Drive cloud storage, that should be plenty to keep things moving along.
The display includes a 5MP front-facing camera with privacy shutter for detecting movement and placing Google Duo calls. While the video quality is decent, it will not work for recording vlogs or other high-quality video needs.
Overall, reviewers felt the display is an excellent example of what smart displays might bring to an already-crowded smart “things” market. Slash Gear says, “If you’re a Google Home user I’d say the Lenovo Smart Display is definitely worth considering for the extra functionality it adds, though the price delta between it and a Google Home Mini still makes voice-only the best starting point for most.” Android Police backs this up, saying, “With very few reservations, I can easily recommend Lenovo's Smart Display to anyone that can afford it.”
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