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Lifewire / Gannon Burgett
Fantastic audio quality
Limited adjustments for display angle
A fantastic Google Assistant-powered smart hub to handle your recipes, music, videos, and inquiries. It did everything we hoped for in a smart kitchen assistant.
The Lenovo Smart Display is a smart home display that falls into the same category of smart home devices as the Amazon Echo Show and Google Home Hub. The device features the internals of a smart speaker but also includes an impressive 10-inch display that can be used for reading recipes, watching YouTube videos, and video calls (thanks to a built-in camera).
I’ve spent the past three weeks with the 10-inch version of the Lenovo Smart Display (there’s also a 7-inch model) and taken note of every pro and con imaginable over nearly a month of daily use. From how easily it picks up my voice across the room to its sound and video quality, read on to see everything I learned below.
As an item that will likely be out in your home for the world — or at least your family and visitors — to see, I’m happy to say Lenovo hit the nail on the head with the design of its 10-inch Smart Display.
This clean aesthetic fits in nearly any home and is frankly one of the best-looking smart displays I’ve seen.
The front of the device features a massive 10-inch screen with a vertical speaker grill on the left of the device. This clean aesthetic fits in nearly any home and is frankly one of the best-looking smart displays I’ve seen. Lenovo didn’t stop there though. On the rear of the device is a beautiful molded bamboo casing that covers and wraps around the entire back of the Smart Display. In my home, the back of the display wasn’t visible, as it was backed up against the wall, but it would easily look just as beautiful from the rear if it were sitting atop an island counter or on a coffee table in the living room.
During my first setup, I didn’t include any additional integrations, and from the time I turned on the Lenovo Smart Display until the time I was ready to start asking the Google Assistant questions, it took roughly 15 minutes. All initial setup takes place within the Google Home app (Android, iOS) and as with any other Google Assistant, a Google account is required, even for basic use.
The 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display features a 2-inch 10W full-range speaker and a dual passive radiator. This setup, as well as much of the internal components of the smart display are housed in an angular section that’s unnoticeable from the front of the device and also serves as a stand to hold the device vertically (something I’ll be addressing in the next section).
For how small the speaker arrangement is, the Smart Display can produce an incredible amount of sound with decent quality. Compared to a dedicated smart speaker, such as the Sonos One or Apple HomePod, the Lenovo Smart Display doesn’t stack up, but considering the price of the Lenovo Smart Display and the fact it’s more of a smart display than a smart speaker, it offers decent audio quality.
For how small the speaker arrangement is, the Smart Display can produce an incredible amount of sound with decent quality.
The speakers are a bit flat on either end of the spectrum, but the mids sound fantastic, especially when the Google Assistant is responding or providing an answer. In fact, I believe the overall EQ was most likely chosen due to the emphasis on this being more of an assistant than a direct speaker.
As its name indicates, the standout feature of the Lenovo Smart Display is its 10.1-inch Full HD (1920x1200 pixels) IPS screen. The display takes up the entire front of the device aside from the speaker grille to the left of it.
The screen proved more than bright enough regardless of the environment it was in and color reproduction was impressive. I’ve been using it as a photo frame, as a means of following recipes, and as a screen to play shows while cooking in the kitchen. Overall, it didn’t matter whether it was a still image, a wall of text, or a video, the image was bright and clear with even backlighting.
The screen proved more than bright enough regardless of the environment it was in and color reproduction was impressive. I’ve been using it as a photo frame, as a means of following recipes, and as a screen to play shows while cooking in the kitchen.
The Lenovo Smart Display 10-inch also features a 5-megapixel front-facing camera that can be used to make video calls using Google Duo. The camera is capable of recording 720p video, which is good enough for video calling, but still a bit behind the front-facing cameras on the latest smartphones. The video on both ends of calls was good as long as the lighting wasn’t too low and the internet connection was strong.
The Lenovo Smart Display 10-inch is powered by Google Assistant, similar to that of Google’s own Nest Hub Max. Although the 10-inch display is touchscreen, the device is very much meant to be controlled via speech, as evident by the dual-microphone array on both sides of the unit.
As with Google’s own smart home devices, the Lenovo Smart Display is fantastic at addressing nearly any inquiry or demand you throw its way. I spent weeks telling it to schedule appointments, set timers, play YouTube videos, pull up a playlist on Spotify and even tell me a few jokes. There were few times I had any issue with the device pulling up relevant information.
Despite all the Lenovo Smart Display is capable of, there are a few specific areas where it truly excels: playing videos, playing music, finding/displaying recipes and showing off photos.
Playing videos on the Lenovo Smart Display can be done in two ways: through Chromecast or through the built-in YouTube connectivity. With Chromecast, the Lenovo Smart Display works nearly identical to any other Chromecast device; simply ‘cast’ the video you want to play to the Lenovo Smart Display and it will pop up nearly instantaneously. Even without the fastest internet at home, I didn’t have any issues with the feed or connectivity when casting ESPN to the device so I could watch Formula 1 while cooking up dinner.
The speakers are a bit flat on either end of the spectrum, but the mids sound fantastic, especially when the Google Assistant is responding or providing an answer.
As for the YouTube integration, it too worked seamlessly. While you can ‘cast’ any YouTube video to the display from a compatible device, you can also inquire using Google Assistant. Throughout the hundreds of video inquiries I threw its way over my weeks of extensive use, there were only a few times it struggled and it appeared to be due to the video I was looking up being pulled from YouTube, not necessarily an issue with the device itself. Aside from those two or three times, the Lenovo Smart Display didn’t have any problem finding the exact video I was looking for, be it a quick how-to video or the latest Daniel Tiger episode for my little one to watch while I was prepping dinner.
On the recipe front, the Lenovo Smart Display 10-inch not only found a collection of recipes using whatever dish asked of it, but it also broke the resulting recipes down into easy-to-follow steps once selected. Rather than having to read the filler text for the recipes, as I think we can all agree is the worst, the onboard Google Assistant will break down the ingredients and steps for the recipe and present them one by one. This makes it incredibly easy to follow along as you’re prepping ingredients and even more so when your hands are a mess.
The only complaint I have with the arrangement is that each time you ask Google to go to the next step you must first say ‘Hey Google.’ This might not seem like a major issue, but when there are twenty steps in a recipe, repeating ‘Hey Google, next step’ over and over again becomes all too monotonous.
The Lenovo Smart Display 10-inch retails for $250. Considering the current market for smart home hubs with displays, the Lenovo Smart Display 10-inch feels like it’s priced right. The build quality is fantastic, the choice of real bamboo for the rear of the device gives it a beautiful, natural touch and both the display and speakers are top-notch.
The smart home market is continually growing with new products being launched nearly every week. But two specific devices stand out as contemporaries for the Lenovo Smart Display 10-inch: the Amazon Echo Show (2nd generation) and Google Nest Hub Max. All three of these devices feature 10-inch screens, internal speakers, and embedded cameras, making them easy rivals.
The Amazon Echo Show retails for $230, just $20 cheaper than Lenovo’s Smart Display. Unlike the Lenovo Smart Display, the Amazon Echo Show hides the speakers on the back of the device. As expected for Amazon’s smart home products, the Amazon Echo Show is powered by Amazon Alexa and Alexa Skills come with it. Like the Lenovo Smart Display 10-inch, the Amazon Echo Show can play music, videos, make video calls, and serve as a hub to trigger other Alexa and smart home devices with a tap or voice command. The Amazon Echo Show comes in Charcoal (black) and Sandstone (gray).
The Google Nest Hub Max also retails for $230, $20 cheaper than Lenovo’s Smart Display. Similar to the Amazon Echo Show, the Google Nest Hub Max eschews speakers on the front of the device and instead houses the speakers in the mesh-covered base of the unit. Identical to the Lenovo Smart Display, the Google Nest Hub Max runs on a stock version of Google Assistant, which mostly features Google’s Material Design language and overall looks identical to the interface the Lenovo Smart Display offers. You can make calls, ask it questions, look up recipes, play videos, check smart home devices and use it as a photo frame when not interacting with it. The device comes in Chalk (white) and Charcoal (dark grey).
When looking at all three devices, there’s little difference, both in price and functionality. The only major difference is that unlike the Amazon Echo Show, which runs on Amazon’s Alexa platform, the Lenovo Smart Display and Google Nest Hub Max both run on Google Assistant, which not only features more integrations but also offers a more aesthetically-pleasing interface. If that isn’t a barrier for you, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these devices.
A great smart hub that combines form and function.
The Lenovo Smart Display 10-inch has proven to be one of the favorite smart home hubs I’ve tested. The design shows Lenovo paid as much attention to form as it did function and the device manages to offer just enough features without making the user experience too complicated or convoluted.
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