Lenovo has knocked it out of the park on their first try - their Smart Display 10 is fantastically designed. Now it's up to Google to keep improving the Smart Display's software and to add more third party support.
Overview: Lenovo’s Smart Display 10″
The Lenovo Smart Display with Google Assistant was first announced back at CES 2018. Seven months later, the first Smart Display is here and it does not disappoint.
Lenovo’s Smart Display is just the first of many Smart Displays that will be coming out soon from different companies, such as LG and Sony. But we especially love the unique styling of Lenovo’s Smart Display because it’s not just another a boring black box. To that effect, its white color complimented by its bamboo back side gives it a fresh look.
The Lenovo Smart Display is available with either an 8” ($199) or 10” ($249.99) display size. The 8” model has a grey finish as opposed to Bamboo. The 10” display that we tested is large enough to watch a movie on comfortably, but not small enough to get lost on a kitchen shelf. The display’s visuals are bright, sharp and vivid. It’s also able to operate and stand in portrait mode for video calls.
The Smart Display is powered by the Qualcomm 624 Home Hub Platform. On the audio front, its speaker system is quite impressive and is capable of getting very loud – so much so that it’s good enough to replace a typical portable mid-sized Bluetooth speaker. The display also packs in dual array microphones. We found that the Smart Display could hear us easily from across the room, even with a loud AC buzzing away.
But what we especially appreciate about the Lenovo Smart Display’s design is that it’s privacy-focused; it has a physical privacy shutter for the camera, as well as a physical microphone mute switch. Thus, we find it comforting to know that we can stop the Smart Display from listening and watching us when we want to. Our only gripe with the hardware is that we wish the power brick cable was longer.
Now onto the software. There’s so much you can do with the Lenovo Smart Display. You can use Google Assistant to check the weather, listen / watch the news, access your Google Photos, play Spotify, watch YouTube videos or YouTube TV, manage your calendar, set alarms, get directions, order food, pull up recipes, play games, make video calls, and control your smart home.
Best of all – it’s all really easy to navigate. Google has done a fantastic job of making the Smart Display interface very intuitive. The user interface constantly offers helpful and contextual tips on what voice command are available to use.
When we first played with a prototype back at CES, the software on the Lenovo Smart Display was buggy, but it’s come a long way since then. As a matter of fact, the out of the box experience is so good, that it wipes the floor with the Echo Show. Google Assistant has always seemed smarter than Alexa to us, and now that he/she has a display, she’s even more versatile.
With all of that that said, we’d like to see more support for third-party services – such as Netflix. We also don’t like that video calls are limited to Duo. Does anyone actually use Duo?
We’re expecting an onslaught of similar Smart Displays with Google Assistant from other manufacturers to be released soon, but it’s clear to us that Lenovo has knocked it out of the park on their first try with the Smart Display 10. Now it’s up to Google to keep improving the software on the Smart Display.